Kangaroos are so cute, aren’t they? That’s why kangaroo hunters make for such bastard villains. They were bastards in Crocodile Dundee and they were bastards in Wake in Fright, which is a superb film, by the way. However, neither of those films concern kangaroo hunters quite as much as Fair Game, a slick little exploitation film from 1986.
The hunters, of which there are three, have a pretty simple dynamic. Two of them, Sparks (Garry Who) and Ringo (David Sandford), are total morons – man children with a cruel streak, while Sunny (Peter Ford), their leader, looks like an RM Williams ambassador. He behaves like one too, presenting himself as a fair dinkum bloke. However, he rather spoils that image when he relentlessly antagonises Jessica (Cassandra Delaney), pursuing her through the outback.
That is the plot – three men antagonising a woman, and it begins quite well with a synthy score and a visual style of filmmaking. In fact, Fair Game is a well-photographed and edited movie. Crane shots, pan shots, dolly zooms – they’re all there, and they bring dynamism to the action set pieces and an evocative sense of place to the scenery. Best looking of all is Cassandra Delaney, who is a great B-movie pin up.
There’s not much talking in this film; it’s an exercise in “show, don’t tell”. But when the characters do speak, there’s an odd stiffness to the dialogue, which has an air of dubbing about it. That stiltedness can be forgiven in a exploitation flick like this. But what can’t be forgiven is the lack of edge to the whole thing. Frankly, exploitation films are about bloodletting, and there isn’t nearly enough of it in Fair Game. The characters aren’t vicious enough, either. Sunny may look like an RM Williams ambassador but he is flat and underdeveloped – a wallflower compared to Wolf Creek‘s Mick Taylor (John Jarrett), whose “head on a stick” routine is truly monstrous.
Fair Game will be released on digital on 12 July.