When Hurricane Smith was released in the early 1990s, I didn’t realise it was an Australian film – so I didn’t bother with it – figuring I would catch it at some stage on video. I never did. The poster certainly doesn’t give anything away, and the casting of Carl Weathers as the hero, and Jürgen Prochnow as the villain, suggest it is an international action thriller. And I guess it is, but if you were to compare it to the other ass-kicking action blockbusters of the time, such as Lethal Weapon, Die Hard (and even the Beverly Hills Cop films – as Prochnow starred in the second), then this film comes up short. It doesn’t have the budget to compete with Hollywood action extravaganzas.
However, if you were to look at Hurricane Smith as a late entry in the Ozploitation cycle, then there’s a lot of fun to be had over its meager 85 minute running time.
Billy ‘Hurricane’ Smith (Carl Weathers) is given a warm Aussie welcome by Shanks (David Argue).
Carl Weathers, plays Billy ‘Hurricane’ Smith, a Texan whose mother has just died. To settle affairs, he needs to find his sister Sally Mae, who he has not seen in years. Her last known whereabouts, was in Surfers Paradise, on the Gold Coast, in Northern Australia.
With only a few postcards to go by, Billy flies to Australia, and begins tracking his sister down. His first port of call is a fancy high-priced brothel, where he meets Julie (Cassandra Delaney – for those curious, Delaney was the naked, car hood ornament in the Ozploitation thriller, Fair Game).
Julie explains she used to share a flat with Sally Mae, but it was said she went back to the US.
‘Hurricane’ and Shanks, chased by Dowd’s minions in speedboats.
Billy knows this is not true and investigates further. This puts him into contact with two shady organised crime figures. The first is Howard Fenton, played by Tony Bonner. The second is Charlie Dowd, played by Jürgen Prochnow. Both are keen for Billy to return to the US, and express this desire, by having Billy beaten up, and then tossed from a moving car. Of course, Billy is not the type to turn tail – especially without knowing his sisters whereabouts.
The film is fairly professionally put together, but I suspect hastily filmed. Throughout the movie, there is barely one close up. Nearly everything is filmed in a medium shot – which is fine for the action sequences. But for the more dramatic scenes, it would be nice to be able to see the actors faces, and know what the characters are feeling. Secondly, I have seen a few production stills, which feature sequences not in the film. Of course, the shots could have been staged simply for publicity – but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the film was chopped and changed around as it was being made.
Shanks blasts away at Dowd’s minions – albeit with his eyes closed
Two local character actors, David Argue and John Ewart almost steal the movie from their international co-stars. Argue plays Shanks, a small time pimp, and loyal friend to Julie. He starts off against Billy, but as the film goes on, he comes around to the side of good and virtue. He also has a good line (well, it would have been good in 1990). In a moment of danger, as bullets rain down on his position, he says ‘he is too young for this shit’… obviously riffing off the popular ‘too old for this shit’ line in the Lethal Weapon films.
John Ewart plays Griffo, a crotchety old publican, who hates ‘septics’. For those who don’t know, us Aussies call Americans ‘septic tanks’, which is rhyming slang with ‘Yanks’. Ewart chews up every scene he is in, with his ‘ocker’ than ‘ocker’ performance. He’s great fun to watch.
The villainous Charlie Dowd (Jürgen Prochnow) holds a gun on Julie (Cassandra Delaney) – the tart with a heart
I am pretty sure, Hurricane Smith, was not a hit. But it is not a stinker. It is just a lower-tier, 80’s action film. It has a likeable cast, and enough mayhem to satisfy most action junkies. It’s strange that appears to have almost disappeared off the face of the earth.