Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Marcario De Souza.
Bra Boys Part 2?
Local film maker Marcario De Souza is obviously fascinated with the whole outlaw surfing culture that he explored in Bra Boys, which took us inside the rough masculine culture of the Sydney beach side suburb of Maroubra. Their chief interests seemed to be brawling, surfing, drinking and chasing big waves. This is a world De Souza knows well. Bra Boys became the highest grossing Australian documentary of all time.
De Souza returns to similar territory with this look at two more of the wild Maroubra boys – surfer and MMA cage fighter Richie ‘Vas’ Vaculik and champion surfer Mark Matthews. For them surfing was the answer to most of life’s problems and frustrations. Both boys grew up in the beach side suburb, and both came from broken homes. Friends since school they also have a similar outlook on life, and their philosophy was that to survive you had to outdrink, outsurf and out fight everyone else. It was a creed that led the pair into some dangerous situations, and neither man thought that he would live to see 25. At the core of the film though is the close personal relationship and tight bond between the two friends.
De Souza spent three years filming this warts and all documentary, and he obviously gained the trust of both Matthews and Vaculik. Both men talk candidly about their youthful exploits, which landed them in trouble. Following a serious accident off the coast of Tasmania Mark’s Big Wave surfing career is in jeopardy, and he has to overcome his fears and begin surfing again. Meanwhile Richie is facing a jail term for his role in a drunken Queensland brawl.
But neither of the subjects is particularly likeable or especially charismatic to justify the 90 minutes spent in their company. There are also interviews with friends like Mark’s former girl friend, champion surfer Kelly Slater, Koby Abberton, two-time World Surfing Champion Mick Fanning, surfer Bruce Irons, four-time Women’s World Surfing Champion Steph Gilmore, and two-time UFC World Champion BJ Penn, who trained Richie in Hawaii.
The interviews are shot in fairly static and unexciting fashion, and a lot of the material is fairly repetitive and dull. However, technically the film is well put together, and there is plenty of surfing action to satisfy the fans. While the Bra Boys was narrated by Russell Crowe, Fighting Fear has been narrated in sparse fashion by Joel Edgerton. Landing him to provide the narration is something of a timely coup given his appearance in the recent Warrior, which is set against the background of MMA fighting.