Saturday, January 9, 2010


[Reprinted from Hey, Did You Ever See the Movie...? The most important film blog since Sight and Sound, curiously censored by the government...]

A conservationist on her own in the Outback on a wildlife refuge is harassed by a trio of kangaroo poachers. Their games start simply: shrewd come-ons at a trading post, running her off the road, driving their trucks through her bird sanctuary. Kid stuff, you know? She retaliates one night by sneaking into their camp and welding their rifles together. Of course, she should have known better than to mess about with a man’s gun. Before she (or the viewer) knows what’s happening, they have her stripped to the waist and lashed to the front of one of their trucks as they do doughnuts in the dust.

Now, as the old saying goes, it’s personal. Or, for Jessica (played by Cassandra Delaney, once married to that bastion of manhood, John Denver), it’s war.

Fair Game is a very tense “Oz-ploitation” thriller from the Land Downunder. It has all the trappings of an exploitation flick: skuzzy baddies, gratuitous nudity, nasty motor vehicles and all kinds of laws broken and civility stomped to mush. But this isn’t I Spit On Your Grave. Jessica isn’t victimized for one second, even lashed to the front of that truck. While rape is implied, it isn’t shown and her will is never broken. Naturally, the local law is no help and her husband is away—one of the villains asks her “Where’s your man, Sheila?”—but she never seems to despair. Of course, the audience knows the violence will escalate before she does. She just wants them run in for ‘roo poaching.

Director Mario Andreacchio keeps the action moving and the whole cast does wonders with Rob George’s deceptively simple script. On the whole, it’s really nothing you’ve never seen before, but it’s so well done and Jessica such a cool heroine, it’s hard not to be on the edge of your seat the entire time. The nice thing about her character is while she’s smart, she keeps making the mistake in thinking that somewhere down deep her antagonists are civilized. But they’re as wild as the land they roam and feel that whatever they want is theirs to take. And they really don’t like a woman showing them up. It’s the clearest case of wounded male ego put up on screen in the longest time. That she never gives up drives them utterly mad with testosterone. It makes for both an exciting and vicious ride.

Fair Game is currently available in the U.S. on a no-frills DVD and it’s well-worth checking out, especially for fans of survival horror combined with (on the surface) revenge flicks.

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