Fair Game [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (13th February 2018).
The Film

"Fair Game" (1986)

Jessica (played by Cassandra Delaney) runs a small wildlife sanctuary in the Australian outback taking care of horses, kangaroos, birds, and more. The peaceful rural life turns to escalating tension when she encounters a trio of kangaroo hunters. Sunny (played by Peter Ford), Ringo (played by David Sandford), and Sparks (played by Gary Who) with their revved up truck named "The Beast" start to irritate the animal loving Jessica, which may start as annoying taunts that but soon increase to violence. The men try to push her off the road while driving, leave dead animals at her place, even sneak in to snap Polaroids of her while she sleeps. The local authorities have no interest in the case and she is left on her own. While she tries to fight the men off verbally, they keep returning and there seems to be no end to their antics, and she must fight back...

"Fair Game" may seem to share similarities with female vengeance films and home invasion films, it sets itself apart by utilizing the rural Australian setting and the vastness of the landscape rather than an enclosed and claustrophobic environment. Jessica may be alone in her house but the sanctuary is wide with hills, cliffs, boulders, trees, fields, and more. Even though the police are inept to her pleas, any help from neighbors is miles and miles away. With many female vengeance films such as "Last House on the Left" and "I Spit on Your Grave", the rape scenes are the ones most talked about and the ultimate reason the audience can feel sympathy for the main characters aiming for justice in violence. Even in the home invasion films such as "Straw Dogs" the rape scenes are the most talked about moments. But with "Fair Game" there actually is no actual rape scene but instead one that is metaphorically a rape scene, and is the one the film is the most infamous for. The three men bound and gag Jessica to the front of The Beast, partially rip off her clothes and they drive at high speeds down the road as she is completely helpless. The sexual humiliation and the physical endangerment is certainly visceral cinematically and with The Beast representing the penis and the helpless partially topless woman with most of her clothes torn off being rammed from behind is a metaphorical rape scene with nothing hidden. After that if anyone continues to side with the men from that point on, sorry but you are a sexist asshole for one thing, and for anyone to think there is no way these men will survive by the end of the film are obviously correct. It may sound like a spoiler, but it is all about the execution - literally.

For newcomer Cassandra Delaney this would be her second acting appearance following "One Night Stand" in 1984 (and not counting an appearance as an unnamed bandmember in "Rebel" the following year). Being the lead and featured in almost every scene in the film, Delaney actually pulls things off quite well playing both the girl-in-distress plus the girl-who-kicks-ass in an almost equal fashion, as she is helpless in some while very adept in some of the later scenes. While it must be said that she does have the least amount of dialogue as she is alone for quite the runtime, her performance seems stronger in the physical sense rather than the verbal. As for the trio of men, the casting of the three was inspired by casting three very different characters. Peter Ford plays the leader who has a strict and understated scariness to the character of Sunny. David Sandford as Ringo is straight out of "Mad Max" or "Dead-End Drive In" with his wild and crazy look and actions. Gary Who as Sparks is the big but dangerous idiot that doesn't seem to know what he is doing half the time. The three probably make the most unattractive male personalities rolled into one and they may present complete unlikability, but that works best to represent the villains in the production. The film is not perfect at all by any means. There are plotholes, some inconsistencies, and some of the taunting banter does get repetitive, but it's all about the exploitative nature and the action that drive the story forward, not looking back.

For director Mario Andreacchio and screenwriter Rob George "Fair Game" would be their first feature film, though the two had worked on shorts and documentaries in the past, with the two collaborating on the short film "Abduction... Who's Next?" in 1984. Set on making a suspense thriller with comical violence and tension, the film was already presold to various territories including the UK, the US, and Japan as the exotic location and exploitation genre were easy sellers to foreign countries. The film was released on July 24th, 1986 in Australian cinemas and the $1.26 million film grossed a small $13,902, a fraction of the original budget. In the UK the BBFC ordered about a minute of cuts due to the sexual violence. in Japan it was retitled "Death Game - Jessica's Revenge" and went straight to video. It also suffered the same fate for the United States going straight to video. Years down the line filmmaker and film buff Quentin Tarantino expressed his love for Australian exploitation and especially for "Fair Game", especially the insanity of strapping a woman to the front of a truck for the infamous scene. The cult following for the film increased and more than thirty years later, the slightly forgotten film received a 2K restoration and a Blu-ray release for the first time by Australia's Umbrella Entertainment in 2018.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray with some bonus content in 1080i 50hz, which can play back on any Blu-ray player with 50hz/PAL capability

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in 1080p in the AVC MPEG-4 codec, in the original theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film was restored in 2K and the Blu-ray transfer is quite good, though imperfect. It is a dark transfer with the Australian outback setting looking dark golden brown and skin tones looking tanned and red, giving the heated feel of the film a gritty and warm edge. There are some minor specs and dust still visible though there are no major wear and tear to be found. Film grain is left intact and stability is not an issue, properly framed at the theatrical ratio. Some of the dark scenes loose finer detail and there are obvious issues due to the low budget shoot from more than thirty years ago. Overall it is a pleasing transfer and ahead of the previous DVD editions.

The runtime is 85:48.

Audio

English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo
The original theatrical Dolby Stereo audio track is given a lossless track on the Blu-ray. The soundtrack has also been remastered and sounds very good. The music score fully utilizes the left and right separation while the dialogue is mostly center based and well balanced. The ADR is quite evident in some scenes though lip movements are properly synchronized so there are no issues with sync. There are no hisses or pops in the track and dialogue is always clear. A pleasing restoration of the audio track.

There are no subtitles provided, even though the rear cover lists them mistakenly.

Extras

Note that some of the extras are 1080i 50hz encoded, which some Blu-ray players such as North American, Japanese, and other players will not be able to play back those bonus features.


Audio commentary with director Mario Andreacchio & writer Rob George
This track featuring the director and writer is not exactly the most enlightening commentary, as both laugh at inconsistencies, the absurdities, and also some of their jokes from many years ago. There are times that one will ask the other questions like "How did you end up casting him?" and the answer would be "Auditions..." Not the most exciting or in depth answer! Not to say it is a complete waste as they do talk about some of the production details such as the stuntwork, the music, and the cast, but there is some dead air as well. It's unfortunate a moderator or critic could not join them to enlighten the conversation more and to get some more information out.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Extended Interview with Cassandra Delaney from "Not Quite Hollywood" (15:24)
Director Mark Hartley's "Not Quite Hollywood" documentary was filled with lengthy interviews from many figures involved in Australian cinema during the 70s and 80s, and Cassandra Delaney was one of the subjects. While only a few minutes were used in the documentary, presented here is an extended version, in which she talks about making the film, working on the characterization, working with "The Beast", doing her stuntwork, and more. Interestingly she talks about doing the infamous tied-to-the-front of the truck scene twice - once with her clothes on and later a second take in which was discussed about having her partially topless for the scene. She also states that the first time she saw the film she was NOT topless in that scene, but all accounts point to the topless scene always being part of the film. Hmm, whose memory is accurate here?
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"On Location with Fair Game" featurette (3:39)
This vintage behind-the-scenes footage shows some of the destruction of the house scene coming from a standard definition PAL video source, which actually looks very good. Strangely, the original audio from the video comes from the left speaker while added background music comes from the right speaker, sounding strangely unbalanced.
in 1080i 50hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Behind the Scenes" 1985 TV Report from NWS9 Action News (0:36)
A vintage news report from the set, taken from a very weak video source is presented.
in 1080i 50hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Behind the Scenes" 1985 TV Report from ADS-7 State Affair (2:21)
Another vintage news report from the set with interviews from the cast and crew, and this is also taken from a very weak video source.
in 1080i 50hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Behind the Scenes with Dean Bennett" documentary (52:01)
Mario Andreacchio claimed that Dean Bennett's 1981 short film "Projected Death" was tahe best 8mm film he had ever seen, and invited Bennett to shoot the behind the scenes footage for "Fair Game", which is presented here in uncut form. There are scenes of the stuntwork, blocking, rehearsing, and more here, but note the standard definition PAL video is not exactly in the best condition looking fairly weak with colors washed out, some tracking errors, and static in some shots. There is no narration or in depth discussions in the footage.
in 1080i 50hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Image Gallery (24:18)
This is an automated slideshow with 99 chapter stops. included are poster & promo artwork, video release artwork, ""he Beast" car & concept art, press & marketing, press kit, storyboard & treatment, stills, and behind the scenes all presented in high definition. The images can manually be skipped as well. There is no music accompaniment.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1

Storyboard (8:05)
Presented are black and white storyboards for two sequences with music accompaniment, coming from a standard definition source.
in 1080i 50hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, LPCM 2.0

Mario Andreacchio Short Films (89:30)
- "Vandalism" (1981) (14:04)
- "Break-In" (1983) (13:33)
- "Taken by Storm" (1984) (23:39)
- "Abduction... Who's Next?" (1984) (14:18)
- "Under Pressure" (1986) (25:06)

From educational films, documentaries, reenactments, and even a film noir parody, these six public education films directed by Andreacchio are presented in one continuous title with individual chapter stops for each short. Each film shows a good deal of interesting camera work and editing techniques. The night time scenes in "Vandalism" and "Abduction", the cutting of the crash with interviews in "Under Pressure", and the breaking of the fourth wall in a few of the films are quite entertaining as well as inventive, even if they are educational films. The films are not exactly in the best of quality. "Vandalism" looks especially dark, "Taken by Storm" has washed out colors and muffled distorted audio, "Abduction" seems to be coming from an analog tape source. "Under Pressure" surprisingly looks the best but the colors are a little on the bright side.
in 1080i 50hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Theatrical Trailer (1:03)
The original Australian trailer is presented here in a remastered form.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.85:1, in English LPCM 2.0 with no subtitles


Considering that the film's DVD releases in the past had no extras to speak of, and to add to that the US DVD from Vanguard was a PAL to NTSC transfer with a 1.33:1 transfer, so this Blu-ray debut of the film certainly leaps it ahead of the competition.

Packaging

The packaging mistakenly states there are English subtitles available.
The coverart is reversible, with the only difference between them is the Australian ratings logo removed on the other side.

Overall

"Fair Game" takes the savage home invasion film to the vast outback with fairly satisfying results. It is a flawed low budget film with limited characterization, but is still a fun ride on the vengeful quest of one woman vs three in an escalating battle to the death. Umbrella Entertainment's Blu-ray release features a great transfer of the 2K restoration with good extras to accommodate the feature. Recommended.

The Film: B Video: A- Audio: B Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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