Film Review – Chopper (2000, Second Sight Films Edition)

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Eric Bana is Chopper
Scanned by Oscans Imaging in July 2021 on authority of Michele Bennett

Mark “Chopper” Read was one of Australia’s most notorious criminals. His sociopathic tendencies emerged while he was in prison in the Seventies and they continued for the next twenty-five years until he properly served time for his crimes. Whilst there, he decided to write his life story and regardless of whether the recollections of his life were accurate or not, it became a best seller.

Chopper, the film on which the book is based is the directorial debut of Andrew Dominik who predominantly did music videos and the breakthrough performance of Eric Bana who became an international star. Now being released on a limited-edition Blu-ray it tells an intricate story of a man who believed in his own hype.

Read was also a very violent man, starting in the film with his first vicious attack of an inmate, his crimes only got worse. Bana also curiously plays Chopper as a happy go lucky man, the kind of person you may not expect to have committed such terrible crimes. However, that kind of insight into his behaviour makes his performance all the more sinister.

Perhaps bringing a lot of his experience from comedy into the role, Bana’s easy-going performance lends itself well to the sometimes darkly comedic tone of the film. Incidences where Chopper shoots a man in his own home only to drive him to the hospital and a time where he shot a supposed arms dealer in a car park are played out very differently. So, despite the wildly violent and often distressing scenes, they are played with a certain sense of humour when it feels suitable.

Director Dominik also shows his unique visual flair and comedic timing in certain scenes. In particular a scene where Chopper and his ‘friends’ are indulging in recreational drugs, only for the scene to be sped up to reflect the state of their mind and an event retold through the mouths of the victims themselves.

The Blu-ray is packed with special features including multiple audio commentaries from people such as film critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson, Andrew Dominik and Chopper himself. It also includes interviews with the composer and director as well as a documentary following Mark “Chopper” Read’s life. Finally, the physical release comes with a 70-page book with new essays by film critics, ​​Thomas Caldwell, Sally Christie, Cerise Howard and Joanna McIntyre plus 6 collectors’ art cards and it’s out now.

Crime, Drama | Australia, 2000 | 18 | 4K UHD, Blu-ray | 30th October 2023 (UK) | Second Sight Films | Dir.Andrew Dominik | Eric Bana, Vince Colosimo, David Field, Fred Barker, Simon Lyndon, Skye Wansey

Special Features 

  • New Second Sight Films restoration from a 2K graded scan
  • A new audio commentary by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas & Josh Nelson
  • Audio commentary with director Andrew Dominik
  • Audio commentary with Mark ‘Chopper’ Read
  • Stand-up Comedy and Violence: a new interview with Andrew Dominik
  • Not Your Typical Composer: a new interview with composer Mick Harvey
  • A Tale of Two Halves: a new interview with editor Ken Sallows
  • Weekend With Chopper
  • Chopper: Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes with optional director’s commentary

Limited Edition Contents

  • Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Nick Charge
  • 70-page book with new essays by ​​Thomas Caldwell, Sally Christie, Cerise Howard and Joanna McIntyre
  • Six collectors’ art cards