LFF 2017: 1% Review
More on BFI London Film Festival 2017
The Copperheads are a biker (bikie) gang whose leader Knuck (Matt Nable, also the film's writer) is in jail. While he's behind bars, his second-in-command Paddo (Ryan Corr) is in charge. With encouragement from his girlfriend Katrina (Abbey Lee), he has ambitions to take over the gang. But another problem is his brother Skink (Josh McConville), who has learning difficulties. Skink has had a run-in with rival gang leader Sugar (Aaron Pedersen), and Paddo has to ask himself where his loyalties lie...
1%, a Perth-shot debut feature from director Stephen McCallum, follows in the tradition of many an Australian crime thriller, though unlike Animal Kingdom, Hounds of Love and Snowtown on the large screen and Underbelly on the small screen, it's not based on or inspired by a true story. That said, it's certainly a familiar one. The biker gangs in the film are the whole film: if there is an outside world – such as, for example, that of law enforcement, - it's incidental if not almost absent entirely. The film's strong point is its delineation of this self-contained world, of drug dealing and casual violence, of evenings in bars with strippers and pole-dancers gyrating in the background. A very male world, then, and the women in the story seek to find their place in it, not least in the case of Katrina, and Knuck's girlfriend Hayley (Simone Kessell), as actual or would-be Lady Macbeth-style powers behind the throne. When Knuck leaves jail, his inclination is to settle scores by violence, but Paddo clearly sees in that way lies trouble.
Following in the even longer tradition of Ozploitation, 1% touches all the genre bases: bikies, violent action scenes, sex. It's proficiently enough made to give the sense of a calling card for both its director and its writer/star. Matt Nable gives a strong performance as Knuck, at times brutal and at others vulnerable, with a none-too-secret sexual taste in young men as well as women. Abbey Lee is also good in a female role given rather more dimensions than usual in a film like this. But ultimately there's nothing very new or unique about this film, and no special reason to watch it when there are better Australian crime movies around.