It’s fairly easy to be critical of a film like this for its weak storyline, bad acting, clichéd characters and banal one-liners that make most of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speaking parts sound like Shakespearean prose. But it’s important to remember that it was 1983 and the Australian film industry was still recovering from the effects of the Ginger Meggs movie in 1982 and understandably still cautious about another film with a red-head cast in a leading role.
It is difficult to quantify how much credit BMX Bandits deserves for the rapid improvement in Australian cycling that followed this film's release, but history does not lie – despite not having won an Olympic medal in cycling for over eleven years, just seven months after this film’s release, the Australian Mens Team Pursuit won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles games. While it could be argued that BMX riding and Team Pursuit racing have little in common, the fact is that they both showcase single-speed bicycles, silly helmets, banked turns and the occasional crash.
If you’re a bit confused about the whole wheel size debate but just feel like you want to be involved, then the Buck-20 (sporting a 36” & 20” wheel) might just be the bike for you. Seen here with Damo from Cog Bike Cafe.
On the road there are the classic 27 × 1¼” traditionalists, your standard white bread 700C roadies, the 650C crusaders and Pursuit Bike purists who favour a low and aero front end. But while this debate rages on, BMX has always acted like a steadying force. If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that BMX bikes have the smallest wheels and the first feature film to feature BMX bikes may (or may not) have been influential in Australia’s Olympic success on the track.
Bicycle Network Victoria (formerly Bicycle Victoria) and the much-vaunted Wheels of Justice, although, I’ll admit that this might be a rather tenuous link.
There’s certainly nothing on any of their websites that recommends fundraising by selling stolen goods, infiltrating semi-organised (and mainly incompetent) crime rings and unwelcome vigilante action to apprehend armed bank robbers as a lobbying tool to generate funding for bicycle infrastructure and safety.
The stunt riding for Nicole Kidman’s character, Judy, was famously performed by an 18 year old boy wearing a wig in this film. And while this goes off without a hitch most of the time, some of the other stunt riders, at times, look a little second rate:
Obviously the tight budget on this film didn’t allow time to re-shoot this botched landing.
quite impressive prices on eBay).
The acting is noticeably bad, although 16 year old Nicole Kidman’s performance is the definite standout. The music and sound effects seem quite inappropriately futuristic, the characters are incredibly clichéd and the plot quite farcical. Despite what David and Margaret might have said about this film…
BMX Bandits – 2.5 plastic spokes (out of 5).