If you’re of a certain age (i.e. you grew up during the 1980s), then chances are you recall a children’s movie called BMX Bandits. The film – an Australian adventure movie about three BMX-riding kids – could often be found in video rental stores or on television (usually via the BBC during the school holidays).
In our house, BMX Bandits was a firm favourite and easily one of our most popular titles to rent. Well, I say “our family”; what I really mean is BMX Bandits was a film my brother and I insisted our parents rent every time we visited the video shop.
If you’re not familiar with BMX Bandits, then let me take this opportunity to provide you with some key details:
- BMX Bandits is set in Australia
- The film features one of the earliest film roles for Nicole Kidman
- This movie couldn’t be more ‘80s if it tried
Yep, I think that just about covers everything you need to know.
As I am such a fan of BMX Bandits, and because I have not watched it in a while, today I thought I would revisit this *cough* absolute classic. In a moment I will be watching and commenting in real-time, to provide my thoughts, feelings and general musings as I go along.
I’m excited, are you?
BMX Bandits (1983)
Here we go…
1mins – If you have kids who ever ask you what the 1980s was really like, then show them BMX Bandits. Within one minute they will get a clear grasp of the decade without you needing to utter a word.
3mins – The film opens with two of the lead characters, P.J. and Goose riding around sunny Australia, performing stunts on their BMX Bikes.
This sequence alone makes me wish I was riding around sunny Australia on a BMX bike… instead of sitting on the sofa in gloomy England, ramming Monster Munch into my gob.
3mins 45secs – Oh, what’s all this then? Some no-good ‘crims’ are about to pull off a bank robbery? Strewth!
7mins – Watching this movie now, as someone in his late ‘30s, I can see why I loved it so much when I was a kid. BMX bikes are so cool, plus (as demonstrated here) they offer the opportunity to explore a world outside the home/surrounding street! I would have watched this film as a kid, then would have hopped on my bike and pretended I was P.J. or Goose.
8mins 30secs – Nicole Kidman has arrived!
10mins 50secs – OK, so the ‘bad guys’ (aka the bank robbers) have appeared in this film twice now and on both occasions they have come across as very menacing. These are scary baddies.
12mins – The boss of this gang – who incidentally is called ‘The Boss’ – is explaining his plan to pull off another robbery, using the latest technology (from the US no less). This technology will allow him and his goons to remain one step ahead of the law.
What is the technology?
Walkie-talkies which can be tuned to the local police radio signal! No, seriously.
12mins 30secs – I appreciate that walkie-talkies were the height of technology back in 1983, but watching The Boss present these devices as ‘the next big thing’, is like watching Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses trying to flog knockoff tracksuits he acquired from Mickey Pearce. He ain’t convincin’ anyone.
23mins – P.J., Goose and Judy (Nicole Kidman) have discovered the walkie-talkies and are selling them to the local kids.
30mins – A couple of goons are now chasing the kids, in the hope they can get the walkie-talkies back. This scene involves a pretty creepy nighttime sequence set in a graveyard. The goons are dressed in monster masks. How was I not scared by this movie?
34mins 30secs – Goose has just tried it on with Judy… because that’s exactly what you do when you’re being chased through a graveyard by crims! Way to look like a jerk, Goose.
39mins – Using money they gained from the sale of the walkie-talkies, the kids have just kitted themselves out with the latest BMX gear. Not gonna lie, I wish I dressed like this… instead of being dressed in boring clothes… covered in the remnants of Monster Munch.
48mins – The situation over the walkie-talkies is getting serious. Judy is in trouble with the goons – cue P.J. and Goose to the rescue! Also, cue an extensive scene of BMX riding/stunts through the neighbourhood.
55mins 30secs – One of my favourite scenes is playing out now, as the kids are chased through a waterpark, resulting in the trio sliding down water chutes, fully clothed and with their bikes in tow!
I thought this scene was awesome back in the ‘80s and I still think it’s awesome now (and something I want to do).
1hr 1min – Blimey, the BMX bike/rescue sequence is still going on! They don’t call this the ‘Citizen Kane of BMX movies’ for nothing, you know.
1h 2mins – No, honestly, this film is referred to as ‘the Citizen Kane of BMX movies’. I’m not sure who called it this, but I do remember it being written on the DVD case.
1hr 9mins – After 21 minutes, the bike/chase sequence is finally over. For a scene which has proved to be very lengthy, it has certainly been entertaining.
1hr 15mins – And now into the grand finale (already). The kids have turned the tables, by going after the goons.
1hr 16mins 45secs – FFS, Judy has been captured again.
1hr 18mins – P.J., Goose and all of the neighbourhood kids (who all own BMX’s) are tracking the goons. But will they rescue Judy?
1hr 20mins 20secs – The cavalry has arrived!
1hr 22mins – Kids vs. goons!
1hr 22mins – The kids have their bikes and bags of flour to use as weapons against the goons, while the goons have baseball bats. Inexplicably, the kids are winning!
That’s what I call ‘flour power’.
1hr 25mins – The bikes have been ditched for a dramatic showdown on the back of a truck. It’s so exciting.
1hr 27mins – And as the film draws to a close, the goons are arrested and all the kids take part in a bit of BMXing around a bike track.
1hr 28mins 30secs – And just incase any kids at home think it’s a good idea to steal some walkie-talkies, take on thugs, and attempt to pull off some of the bitchin’ stunts depicted in the film, a nice little disclaimer pops up on screen to point out how dangerous this would be. Which it would.
It has to be a good decade since I last watched BMX Bandits, and while it is clearly not aimed at my age demographic, I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching it. The film has drama, danger, plenty of sun, some laughter and most important of all it has lots of BMXs!
Is BMX Bandits the greatest movie of all time? Alas, it is not. But it is bloomin’ fun and a kids’ film that deserves a little more recognition.
If you are fan of this movie, but you’ve not seen it in years, then give it 90 minutes of your time. And if you’ve got kids, share it with them too – I’m pretty sure they would enjoy it.
When I last checked, the DVD has long been out of print and in the UK it has never been released on Blu-ray. The digital edition is also no longer available, but at present the movie can be streamed on YouTube (at least for now) so you’ve got no excuse.