With a subtitle as creative as The Next Chapter, it’s safe to set your expectations very, very low for this one. Aussie Park Boyz: The Next Chapter is the sequel to Aussie Park Boyz (2004), which I have never seen, but now plan to. While there are fleeting moments that clearly refer to the first film, you don’t need to see the prior instalment to keep up with this sequel. As a movie about a tough-as-nails fist fighting gang, the film needs to be simple so its target demographic can stay with it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the writer, director, and star of the picture.
A gang of beefy Australian UFC-types are eagerly looking forward to the return of fellow member Pep (Joe Murabito) from his trip to America. Pep’s glad to see the gang, but most excited to reunite with his cousin Cam (Nunzio La Bianca), who is nowhere to be found at this welcome home barbecue. Pep soon learns that Cam hasn’t been the same since his brother Vinny died, which I assume happened in The First Chapter. He’s a mess these days, using body-enhancing narcotics and when he’s not fighting in underground boxing tournaments, he sits in his room drinking all day. He’s an alcoholic version of Rocky, spiking his raw egg yolk with Merlot.
To save dishes, he uses the eggshell as the shot glass.
Cam works for Jimmy (Jamie Mercanti), the leader of the underground fighting ring. He’s an exposition device/ story catalyst, pissed that Cam keeps losing every fight. Jimmy gives him one last chance. If he doesn’t win, he’s out on his ass. During the match, footage is slowed down and sped up in attempt to hide the awkward fight choreography. Cam loses his fight and Jimmy beats the shit out of him, disposing of his wrecked body in an alley.
This movie takes the first of its many ‘stock footage breaks’ here, where a sequence of establishing shots featuring the Australian wilderness are pointlessly inserted to showcase the passage of time. When Pep and the rest of the Aussie Park Boyz track Cam down, he has a new resolve and brings the fight to Jimmy. Now the movie’s on repeat, because Jimmy defeats Cam again, this time by shooting him.
There are a lot of editing problems with this film, or perhaps the necessary coverage wasn’t available to work with. It’s hard to tell how we get from one place to the next. After Cam is shot, there’s a fade to black, another stock footage break, and then Cam wakes up in a shack… somewhere. He’s surrounded by a group of complete strangers treating his gunshot wound. It looks like Jimmy just can’t kill this guy! The good Samaritans found him in the wilderness among the kangaroo stock footage, I guess.
And they say never to talk to strangers.
Cam becomes fast friends with his ‘wise’ healers, who impart life advice using an allegory about campfire smoke. You have to bury your brother, they tell him. They’re speaking metaphorically of course, but Cam’s too much of a moron to realize this. He instead gets his gang together and they venture out to find and exhume Vinny’s body, so that he can have a proper sendoff and burial.
The wise healers cleanse his soul by waving campfire smoke into his face.
At this point, Cam’s character arc is complete, and we’re barely halfway through the film. He’s found his purpose among his gang, who embrace him for having returned to his former self. He’s back in charge, and they’re eager to serve their leader. He has nowhere else to go from here. If he didn’t take metaphors so literally, the movie would be over. But instead of end credits, we get to watch as he puts his entire team in danger in order to get some bones.
The events that follow are jumbled near the point of incoherence. The entire gang hops in the back of a truck and they travel outside their rightful territory, where they run into confrontation with gang after gang. The sound quality is so terrible that the overlapping dialogue in these gang fights makes it impossible to tell who is screaming what to who. Is it really worth risking the life of everyone you know just to find your brothers bones and move them somewhere else?
Things escalate quicker than Anchorman news team fights.
The fights continue for the remainder of the film, and its unclear who any of the gangs they come across are. It’s beyond me why they can’t they can’t just go straight to the gang that has Vinny’s bones. All these detours through other gang’s territories just put the lives of their entire team even more at risk. It’s idiotic. But then again, with Cam in charge, I’m not surprised this is the strategy they use.
When they finally track down the right gang, Cam goes psychotic and plays a game of Russian roulette with himself. He gets lucky five times, and uses the sixth shot of his revolver to kill the rival gang’s leader. The rest of Cam’s gang just stand back and watch him behave this way. Actually, in a lot of the fight scenes, only three or four people will fight, and a large crowd just sort of stands around watching. So Pep and the gang sit back as Cam comes insanely close to death five times in a row like the total nutjob that he is. Once the rival gang is defeated, they step forward and console him. Together they discover his brother’s bones underneath a rusted car.
Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.
With this revenge Cam finally finds the closure he needed. He accepts Vinny’s death and can finally move on. There’s nothing clever about this. It’s just not cinematic to watch a group of characters make a plan and then carry it out successfully. It’s like watching someone shop for groceries without straying from their list. A more satisfying ending could have involved a situation where Pep’s life is in danger, and Cam has to decide between Pep and Vinny’s bones. In saving Pep, Cam would learn in a visual way not to risk his friends lives to hold on to the past.
Aussie Park Boyz: The Next Chapter provides that same sense of superiority you’d get from watching a reality TV show. The people are dumb, and with more resources than brains, they do dumb things with what they have. The movie is redundant and repetitive, with a sloppy edit and a terrible sound mix. The performances are okay at best, considering everyone just screams and swears at each other. Every character blends in with the rest since they all behave the same way. The fight scene choreography is clunky and awkward. It’a mess of a movie, but at the same time a lot of fun and really worth the watch.
At the end of the film, Pep wonders, so what’s next for the Aussie Park Boyz? Cam pauses for dramatic effect before answering: “We do what we always do. We Punch On.”
Shouldn’t you have a massive scar there?