Smash Palace Blu Ray review

New Zealand cinema came to Cannes for the release of this melodrama that released the year after Kramer vs Kramer, is dark, bitter and often frank. When former racing driver Al (Bruno Lawrence) and his French wife Jacqui (Anna Jamison) divorce, after a series of arguments, life becomes toxic. They both want whats best for their child. However an ugly custody battle ensues. Al is separated from her, he is pushed away from his community and finally the only person he has, cant get through to him.

Smash Palace is a new adventure for me. It comes from a genre, which I have a great affinity with, the melodrama. In the late 70s and into the mid 80s, the genre exploded. Often my delight in melodrama is that it is wrapped in social commentary. Wrapped for instance in themes of social position perception, (put simply it means where I belong and why I belong there.) In Smash Palace we can see this directly. A teacher and a racing driver marry, they have a child. Two polar opposites merging. This event has trapped them in to a conflict of place and position. Unlike say Kramer vs Kramer, class is extrapolated into this. As is a racing drama. Its a sometimes unbalanced mix, verging into excess but it is also emotive and engaging.

The disc

Transfer is a Hi Def version. Nicely keeping the cinematography but ironing out some of those transition and edit issues (wear and tear). The 3 top features are the rich and often revealing commentary. Millen on the driving scenes is excellent. Donaldson on the motivation of the man is excellent. The making of, is filled to the brim with details, interviews and conversations about the film and its topics.


  • 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



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