Sizzling summer strife Down Under.

Australia. 2008. 96mins. Director David Field Production company See Thru Films Distribution Australian Film Syndicate (Aus) Producer John Perrie Screenplay George Basha Cinematography Toby Oliver Main cast George Basha, Clare Bowen, Firass Dirani, Doris Younane, Ali Haidar, Michael Denkha, Tony Ryan.

A high-energy, low-budget, independently financed tale of gangs, guns and racial hatred in the hot, flat suburbs of Sydney, The Combination hit the headlines at home after violent outbursts at some of its screenings. But it has also attracted some good notices.

Exploring the fraught relationship between Sydney's Lebanese-Australian community and local Anglo-Aussies, actor-turned-director David Field has delivered a good-looking, action-packed urban thriller. However, its wider home release and prospects abroad will be dented by the muffled street diction of a mostly inexperienced cast. The Lebanese/Arabic dialogue comes with subtitles - but a large portion of the English/Australian dialogue needs them too.

Screenwriter George Basha also plays the lead, John, returning to his community after a prison stretch. He tries to stop his school-aged brother Charlie (Dirani) from falling into the same traps as he did - drugs, guns and underworld promises of easy money. Charlie is in a Lebanese gang led by reckless Zeus (Haidar), whom he follows into a doomed deal with dangerous drug lord Ibo (Denkha). Tempers flare, knives and guns are pulled, and death and destruction seem inevitable.

Basha has a stolid integrity, but lacks the heroic appeal that followers of the action/revenge genre may expect. The Combination races to a bloodthirsty climax, well choreographed by Field and editor Ken Sallows.


Solid, decent-looking gang drama.