Blu-Ray Review: Smash Palace

I really don’t understand it myself, but there are lots of men (and a few women) who have a strange obsession with motor cars. What’s even more perverse is that they aren’t just content with driving/dreaming of driving their dream car, they also enjoy watching other people do it. Bizarrely, it’s even called a sport. Bonkers. For those who realise their ambitions of becoming racing driver, it can become a life-long obsession. This theme runs throughout Roger Donaldson’s 1981 film Smash Palace.

‘Smash Palace’ is a wrecking yard on New Zealand’s northern island run by a former racing driver Al Shaw (Bruno Lawrence). His time is largely split between doing up an old racing car and playing with his young daughter Georgie (Greer Robson-Kirk). His French wife Jacqui (Anna Maria Monticelli) is deeply unhappy and starts an affair with Ray (Keith Aberdein), Al’s best friend. When she moves out with their daughter, he struggles to cope and takes matters into his own hands.

Smash Palace is a distinctive drama which deals with obsession, repressed emotions and a stubborn refusal to change. Whilst Al is pig-headed, he’s also scared of change. Too frightened to move outside his comfort zone and occupy a space where he feels inferior. As for Jacqui, she simply can’t go on living like this. Smash Palace was Donadson’s second film and the one which earned him his big break (directing Mel Gibson in The Bounty). It’s a domestic drama which quickly spirals into a tense thriller.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition (Blu-ray) presentation
  • Original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Commentary by writer-director Roger Donaldson and stunt driver Steve Millen
  • The Making of Smash Palace, a 51-minute documentary on the film’s production featuring interviews with Donaldson, actor Keith Aberdein, filmmaker Geoff Murphy and others
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ian Barr, a contemporary review by Pauline Kael and the original press book

Smash Palace is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy on 25 May.

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