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Fair Game (1986) Review

In the press release for their rerelease of the Ozploitation classic Fair Game Dark Star Pictures mentions its influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. And for many that will be a reason to check it out. I was more interested in revisiting it due to its connection to another Australian film, Russell Mulcahy’s Razorback. It’s almost as though writer Rob George (The Battle for Jericho, Selkie) and director Mario Andreacchio (The Dreaming, Sally Marshall Is Not an Alien) decided the Baker Brothers were wasted playing second fiddle to a killer pig and made them the lead villains here, with memorable results.

Jessica (Cassandra Delaney, One Night Stand, Pledge Night) runs an animal sanctuary somewhere in the Outback. One morning as she’s driving into town for supplies she’s nearly run off the road by a pair of trucks driven by a trio of kangaroo hunters Sunny (Peter Ford, Mad Max, Gallipoli), Ringo (David Sanford, I Can’t Get Started, Great Expectations: The Untold Story), and Sparks (Gary Who, Dead End Drive-In, All Together Now). This isn’t the first time they’ve harassed her but the local cop (Don Baker, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Time Guardian) refuses to do anything.

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Of course in a movie like Fair Game that’s not surprising, Nor is the fact that the incidents continue to escalate, with Jessica getting the worst of it every time she tries to fight back. Until in the film’s most notorious scene she’s tied topless to their truck and driven around like a human hood ornament. After surviving that, she’s out for blood.

Fair Game lets us know what we’re getting right from the start. The opening vehicular confrontation with Ringo leaping between the three of them is an impressive scene. And shortly after one of them crawls under her truck to take an upskirt polaroid as she’s getting into it. Why she merely pours flour on him rather than stomp on his face is a bit of a mystery.

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The film maintains the same nasty tone as the back and forth between Jessica and the trio gets worse. Animals are killed, guns are destroyed, and at one point they sneak into her house to take pictures of her as she sleeps naked. Given the sexual nature of so many of the offences against Jessica, and the level of fucked up the film’s villains operate at, it’s somewhat surprising that Fair Game doesn’t turn into an Outback version of I Spit on Your Grave and the violence stops short of rape. I do wonder though if its plot of three men stalking a woman through the desert scenario wasn’t an inspiration for Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge.

What we do get however are some solid action scenes and stunt work thanks to stunt coordinator Glen Boswell, who has worked on everything from Turkey Shoot and Razorback to last year’s The Wrath of Man. Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (I Am Legend, Lord of the Rings Trilogy) contributes great shots of Australia’s natural beauty, both its landscape and Ms. Delaney, as well as atmospheric night shots that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror film.

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My one complaint is that Fair Game takes too long to get to its final showdown. Stuffed into the film’s last ten minutes, it’s certainly well done, including the expression on the other two’s faces when she takes the first of them down. They look genuinely offended that she dared to take things to their level. But it feels rushed and could easily have done with another five or ten minutes.

One of the better, and unfortunately overlooked outside of its home country, Ozploitation films Fair Game was due for rediscovery. Hopefully, its cinema run will be extended to other cities, including one near me.

Dark Star Pictures will release Fair Game theatrically in Los Angeles on July 8th. It will be available on VOD and Digital on the 12th and on Blu-ray on August 30th. And if you’re looking for films like it, FilmTagger has a few ideas.

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Where to watch Fair Game
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