VideoVista covers rental and retail titles in all genres and movie or TV categories, with filmmaker interviews, auteur profiles, top 10 lists,
plus regular prize draws.
INDEX OF ALL REVIEWS
SEARCH THIS SITE
TOP 10 LISTS
INTERVIEWS & PROFILES
RETRO REVIEWS SECTION
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTORS
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER
SUPPORT THIS SITE -
SHOP USING THESE LINKS
visit other Pigasus Press sites...
The ZONE - genre nonfiction
Soundchecks - music reviews
Rotary Action - helicopter movies
cast: George Basha, Doris Younane, Firass Dirani, Clare Bowen, and Rashad Dehan
director: David Field
96 minutes (18) 2008
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2
review by James A. Stewart
In this gritty Australian drama - which is almost an antipodean American History X - director David Field attempts to bring to life some
of the quite real racial tensions that exist in Australia's larger cities, so much so he uses real images from 2005's riots in Sydney. Being by
its very nature a nation of immigrants (aborigines aside), Australia has, much like America, struggled to create and foster a national identity.
Aggravated Assault, or The Combination, as it is known in Australia, is a reminder that the human preponderance to segment people
based on a series of tenuous social conditions is one our species' greatest weaknesses.
Set in the suburbs of Sydney the film opens with Lebanese-Australian John (George Basha) returning from prison, having been incarcerated for
reasons never revealed. His family home lacks a father now and John takes on the oldest-male-in-the-household position but has landed in a place
where his family is shunned and his little brother (Charlie) is in cahoots with the local gang of non-Aussies. Of course, a la West Side Story,
the gang made up of Australian boys is the Sharks to the Jets of the multinational crew.
These tensions are brewing while John tries to rebuild his life. He is revealed as an ex-boxer after taking a cleaning job at the local gym and
finds love in the shape of the blonde hair, blue-eyed Syd (Clare Bowen). But he faces a battle to save his brother from ending up in jail just
as he did. This is a respectable film, very watchable and with some excellent acting. Perhaps the most accomplished is Ali Haider as the maniacal
Zeus who stokes the racial tensions with fatal consequences. Bowen gives a reasonable turn as the love interest to John, a character whom George
Basha gives a first-rate performance as.
On the downside, the soundtrack had me reaching for the remote as the music and the dialogue flitted between too loud and exceptionally quiet.
In addition, there were a fair few holes in the plot, such as; why was John in jail? Just what happened to the father? And - most perplexing -
after an arcade stabbing, how was the antagonist free to walk the streets the day after being arrested? As well as these faults, it is a film
that could generally have done with a shade more backstory weaved into the characters.
These flaws aside, Aggravated Assault is an honest low-budget movie that has a fair few points of interest. There is nothing remarkably
original about it but the acting, direction and script are all of a reasonable level and at just over 90 minutes it is worth looking out as we
wait for summer to come.
Lastly, and I suspect this is probably a phrase regularly used in Australia, but I did enjoy the retort from Chris (Lebanese background) when
he had been cornered by a local gang who were proclaiming their rights as 'true Australians' - the Lebanese laughed and said, "We came in planes,
you came in chains." The result was a pretty rough beating all the same.