UNDER THE RADAR: DVD
Brandon (Nathan Phillips) absolutely lives for the surf. Too bad for him, an unfortunate episode of surf rage has him miles from the beach, doing community service at a home for the variously disabled. He meets Adrian (Clayton Watson), who suffers from a rare condition of short term memory loss after a terrible childhood accident, and the cerebral palsied but mentally alert Trevor (Steady Eddy). Brandon, ever the fun lover and thrill seeker, proposes to matron that a day of surfing would do the patients good and takes the two lads along, only to get embroiled in a case of inter-gang warfare over a haul of drugs. And a dead body.
Review by Andre L. Urban:
Young Queensland filmmaker Evan Clarry showed a natural cinematic talent with his debut teen comedy road movie, Blurred, and producer Chris Brown rightly wanted to take Clarry further and helped produce his second film, Under The Radar. This film is again aimed at a young market, although not exclusively, and the casting of Nathan Phillips ensures that the lead character has oodles of credibility. Brandon is an irreverent young larrikin with a heart of gold, and Phillips nails him, giving us a wholly rounded character with whom to undertake this escapade. He is the film's saviour.
Phillips is ably supported, especially by Steady Eddy, Chloe Maxwell and the gangster cast which makes the most of their opportunities, but it's on his shoulders that the film rests. It is through him we participate, and in whom we believe.
Clarry's storytelling structure is less successful, choosing to use two major flashback blocks to invert the linear plot. This doesn't come off smoothly. (At one stage I thought the reels had been mixed up.) There is also discordant unevenness - almost conflicting - about the tone of the film, making the audience uneasy about some of the violence in the context of its comedic sensibilities, and confused about the drama. The night scene where the three black-garbed hoods have a discussion prior to the anticipated murder of our heroes is clearly a specific tribute to Tarantino, but it just doesn't quite come off, and seems forced. Perhaps this is the scene that demonstrates the difference between homage and attempted emulation . . .
These are distracting flaws, and while the craft side of the filmmaking is generally stylish and smooth, a couple of noticeable continuity gaffs undermine the impact: in the opening sequence, the amnesia-afflicted Adrian (Clayton Watson) is roughed up and has the special advisory note-tag around his neck yanked off. In the continuing scene that follows, it is still around his neck and is a significant prop. In a later scene, Brandon's special necklace is seen inside then outside his T shirt. This may seem like nitpicking, but this is the special necklace with great sentimental and symbolic value, being his first ever surfing prize, at the age of 12.
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UNDER THE RADAR: DVD (M)
CAST: Nathan Phillips, Clayton Watson, Steady Eddy, Chloe Maxwell, Robert Menzies, Syd Brisbane, Teo Gebert, Damien Garvey, Gyton Grantley, Robert Rabiah, Rory Williamson
DIRECTOR: Evan Clarry
SCRIPT: Steve Pratt
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: December 15, 2004