WHEN was the last time you shifted your Levi’s off the couch and into a movie cinema for a proper Australian-made bikie flick? Those old enough to remember might recall Stone way back in 1974, and the original Mad Max five years later, but other than that it’s been slim pickings for scoot-jockeys since.
A movie like 1% is long overdue and a welcome respite from the favoured cage flicks gracing our silver screen, but to say it’s just a bikie movie is selling it short. Very short. This is a violent, confronting, and multi-layered rollercoaster that rockets through its 90 minutes leaving a trail of blood, destruction and shattered destinies. Interesting to note those multiple layers were designed to resonate strongly with Shakespearean tragedies like McBeth and King Leah, while also relying on the universal theme of the father’s iron fist versus the empowered but conflicted son. Throw in the Shakespearean village idiot into the mix and like fuel-on-the-fire things are going to get intense.
Matt Nable wrote the screenplay on which 1% was based, and while Matt has been in some big Hollywood blockbusters (ie Riddick), playing a club Prez is already in his play-book. In the TV mini series ‘Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms’ back in 2012, Nable played Jock Ross, the President of the Comancheros MC while they warred with the Bandidos. This time Nable comes back as the Prez again (Knuck), but of the fictional Copperheads MC, but the warring is contained within the club.
After being released from a three-year stretch, he returns to the clubhouse to find it full of new patches and commercially enterprising ideas. VP Paddo (Ryan Corr) has been busy in Knuck’s forced absence. Deeply conflicted in his loyalties, the plot centres around his ambitions to move the club forward with the backing and seemingly equal say of his club barmaid girlfriend Abbey Lee (Katrina).
The club has been raking in cash from its vaguely-alluded-to dealings, and is offered a helping hand to wash it by the leader of the rival Devils MC, played by Aaron Pederson (Sugar), who is incredible to watch being truly evil at every moment.
Paddo is stuck between his loyalties to his simple brother (Skink), and the immovable rock that is Knuck.
Backed by an authentic performance from Josh McConville (Skink), Knuck’s steadfastly loyal partner Simone Kessell (Hayley), and a staunch if under-utilised Eddie Baroo (Webby), it’s a cinematic ticking time bomb with very little left in the tank come the final chilling shot.
1% was filmed entirely around Perth, Western Australia, with the opening credits rolling to the nighttime urban coldness of the Northbridge tunnel while a huge train of bikes snake through it. A directorial debut by Perth local Stephen McCallum, the production’s tight budget meant most of the club members were unpaid, donating their time and motorcycles to be a part of the experience.
“They brought their own personalities to the club and screen, and we couldn’t have done it without them” admitted Stephen. “I wanted a cinematic ‘Kick in the teeth’ with 1% and I think along with help from everyone involved, we have done just that. The audience will definitely be confronted. It’s not an easy watch. People might not like it initially, but brave viewers will be rewarded.”
Go back and reflect on the plot, or go watch it again and you’ll see where seemingly unrelated scenes give away obvious clues as to where this juggernaut and all its secrets are heading.
Stephen would also like to extend his thanks to Perth Harley-Davidson and Frasers Motorcycles for their support in supplying five bikes each, with PH-D also assisting with tailoring the bikes to suit the main characters destined to ride them.
1% screens in Australian cinemas on October 18. It’s one ride worth hanging on tight for.
Review by Brad Miskiewicz