Predator, along with Clifford, Lethal Weapon, Naked Gun 2½, and Annie (shut-up), are my most watched childhood films. My younger sister and I watched Predator so many times she knew every word, even the Spanish ones and she didn’t speak Spanish. So when I discovered that “Dillon” or as you might know him “Carl Weathers” had starred in the Australian action drama Hurricane Smith, I wanted to see it. The plot keywords on the film’s IMDB page were a further enticement: “interracial relationship”, “arms tied over head” and “bare-chested male bondage.”
Australia/USA, 1992, Colin Budds
The man who puts the “Carl” in Weathers, plays Billy “Hurricane” Smith, an oil guy who learns that his mother has died. Hurricane, who lives in Texas in a house that appears to be Australian and appears to be surrounded by Australian flora, leaves the States for Australia to locate his missing sister and his missing shirt.
When Hurricane steps off the plane in Brisbane, he announces, “I’m Carl Weathers and I’m here to smash up the Gold Coast.” I’m not sure why he refers to himself by his real name, but he does. You don’t need to watch the film to prove my memory right. Hurricane is greeted at the airport by bikini ladies and is given a toy koala. Australia treats foreigners pretty decent, eh?… How wrong you are. But I will get to that later.
At the immigration office Hurricane shows the officer a photo of his missing sis and a photo of a random naked girl (no joke). The officer recognises the house in the background. He doesn’t know the address but he knows it’s “down south.” Luckily, Hurricane encounters Australia’s best taxi driver and the driver finds the house “down south” in about 2 minutes. Unluckily, the taxi driver is a bloody racist.
Surely this kind of racial abuse is just a one-off for Hurricane?… You are wrong again.
Hurricane soon discovers the house his sister was last seen at, is a brothel. This is when I started to get excited. Not because I am a full pervert, because there have been some memorable Ozploitation scenes set in brothels. Including the hilarious opening to Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Strike of the Panther and the bizarre brothel aerobics montage in Running from the Guns. Though the brothel scenes in Hurricane Smith don’t quite measure up to those examples, Carl Weathers does get to point a gun at David Argue’s dick and balls.
David Argue usually plays bleating, tough guy twits. His role in Hurricane Smith is no different. Except for one aspect. He also is a massive racist.
Now before you get upset, this was the 1990s. Things have changed in Australia. We accept every race and creed here. It’s not like our government has their hands over their ears yelling “lalalala” as non-whiteys are drowning of the shores of Australia, is it?
Brian Trenchard-Smith’s martial arts masterpiece The Man from Hong Kong has a similar premise. That is: a foreign tough guy gets caught up in the drug-dealing underbelly while trying to deal with hilariously-inappropriate racism.
In this case, Charlie (Jürgen Prochnow), the druglord who owns the brothel, doesn’t like Hurricane snooping around. So he and his muscle goons strip off Hurricane’s shirt and tie him up. It reminded me of the scene in Lethal Weapon when Riggs gets tortured. But a tad friendlier. It’s not the only Lethal Weapon reference in Hurricane Smith.
The 28 minute mark is an odd point in a movie to viciously mistreat the main character. What’s odder is letting him off with just a warning. But Charlie is an unconventional bad guy. Instead of killing the guy who is meddling with his drug business, he kills his beloved girlfriend. Swings and roundabouts.
That’s not the only action-writing misstep. Some folk would say not involving your main star in the film’s major chase sequence would be a mistake. Those folk would be right. This is exactly what happens in Hurricane Smith when Charlie and his gang chases and shoots at Julie (Cassandra Delaney), a prostitute/best friend to Hurricane’s sister. This all happens while Hurricane is in his hotel room. But don’t blame Hurricane for not helping. He is lying there wondering why almost every Australian he encounters points out the colour of his skin.
After the chase sequence the film slows almost to a snail’s pace, as Hurricane falls in love with Julie and kind of forgets about his missing sister.
Side note: if you are writing an action film, make sure your protagonist is in a rush. Even if the protagonist is just walking faster than every other character. It will give the illusion the protagonist has purpose.
As the 3rd act kicks in, the pace fires up again. Hurricane gets his shit together and hunts down the bad boys responsible for his sister’s disappearance. A pretty cool boat chase leads to a shoot-out as Hurricane and his racist best mate team together for another Lethal Weapon reference.
All this excitement made me forget the pacing issue. In particular, the time when Hurricane halts his mission to have a 3 hour coffee break.
Hurricane Smith concludes with some superb helicopter strangling.
Hurricane Smith isn’t a great film. Only once is he addressed by the name Hurricane. His love interest says, “I heard your were called Hurricane because you once saved you’re sister from a hurricane… and because you’re just like a wind of force 12 on the Beaufort scale.” Or something. Hurricane replies with “I don’t like the name Hurricane. Please don’t call me that for the rest of the film.” So no one mutters his name again.
Apart from that slight gripe, there is enough in Hurricane Smith to enjoy. Including two deaths by sharks. Carl Weathers is solid and David Argue is his usual amusing yobbo self.
And if you are a fan of racism, this is the film for you.