Release Date(s)1987 (June 2, 2021)
Studio(s)Umbrella Entertainment (Ozploitation Classics #4)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: C+
- Extras Grade: B
[Editor’s Note: This is a Region-Free release, NOT Region B as stated on the packaging.]
During the 1980s, many a film was released in the teen comedy milieu, some being raunchier than others when it came to the content. Everything from Summer School to Valley Girl to The Last American Virgin got their shot, and despite not all being successful, many are now considered cult classics. Windrider, on the other hand, is one that many haven’t seen, mainly because it doesn’t have much of a following outside of Australia. It’s perfectly generic, but in a charming way that only films from that era can be.
Stewart P.C. Wilson (Tom Burlinson) is a young executive at his father’s company by day. During his off hours, he’s a world class windsurfer, eager to prove himself in the upcoming world windsurfing championship against a rival, but equally-talented, windsurfer. However, upon meeting a beautiful, young rock singer named Jade (Nicole Kidman), who watches him perform a perfect 360 degree windsurfing move, the two fall in love. As the championship grows closer, P.C. begins to wonder if he should hang up his board for good and grow up, despite the encouragement of Jade and his father to continue, leading to a final windsurfing showdown.
Windrider is familiar 80s territory, drawing parallels to other similar stories in Risky Business, Top Gun, Real Genius, and One Crazy Summer, just to name a few. Its story is mostly about P.C (Tom Burlinson) transforming himself from a self-centered jerk to a more well-rounded person. It takes tiny detours with often unfunny gags and stale comic relief from his fellow beach bums, as well as Jade’s laid-back, pot-smoking band members. The film saw mild controversy due to a couple of nude scenes featuring Nicole Kidman, who had grown up in the eyes of viewers after appearances in films like Bush Christmas and BMX Bandits. Upon the film’s release, she told the press that she was fully comfortable with it, but later said she felt exploited. Regardless of what the actual situation was, it didn’t ultimately matter. Windrider bombed upon release in the US and was quickly forgotten by most.
We previously reviewed the MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray release of Windrider, which featured a nice transfer from a theatrical print. The new Blu-ray release from Umbrella Entertainment, as part of their Ozploitation Classics line, appears to use the same master, but with mild filtering to smooth out the grain. The bit rate is also a tad higher than the MVD release, so it gets the most out of it. The rest of the presentation is identical, right down to the crushed blacks and occasional print damage. The color palette offers a nice variety of hues, from the interiors of P.C.’s office building to the sun-soaked beaches with clear blue skies, and nice skin tones that aren’t overly warm. Brightness and contrast levels are acceptable as well. Leftover damage includes scratches, speckling, changeover cues, and streaking, the latter of which is more noticeable in some shots than others. There’s also minor instability from time to time. Which presentation is superior is up for debate. Most won’t approve of the heavy grain in the MVD presentation as they might perceive it as “noisy.” Others may enjoy the Umbrella release because it smooths it out a bit and appears mildly softer by comparison. Both look good, but your mileage may vary.
For the audio, there’s an English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio track with optional subtitles in English SDH. The MVD release featured an English 2.0 Mono LPCM track with no subtitles, meaning this release has a slight advantage. It’s a fairly flat presentation with little to no widening. Some of the dialogue overlaps a bit, but there’s no obvious distortion. The music selection comes through well, but sound effects tend to have little to no life to them, including the crashing waves and the screeching of P.C.’s tires at a stop light. Like its video counterpart, it could use some improvement, but it works for the presentation at hand without any major interference.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Vincent Monton, Every De Roche, and Mark Hartley
- Running Hot: Reflections on Windrider (HD – 5:09)
- Nicole Kidman Music Promo (Upscaled SD – 1:11)
- Young Days Music Video (Upscaled SD – 1:41)
- Extended and Uncut Bedroom Scene (Upscaled SD – :40)
- Windsurfing Promo (Upscaled SD – 2:51)
- Stills and Promotional Gallery (HD – 48 in all – 2:31)
- TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :27)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD – 1:47)
The audio commentary with director Vince Monton and writer Everett De Roche, moderated by filmmaker Mark Hartley, is a lively chat as Monton and De Roche reminisce about the film while Hartley interjects with questions and receiving plenty of interesting answers. There’s also Running Hot, which features interview footage of Monton and De Roche taken from interviews shot for the Not Quite Hollywood documentary (a new addition); a brief music promo featuring “Nicole Kidman” (Lisa Hill actually) singing the song Running Hot; a music video promo for the song Young Days by Boyd Wilson; a slightly extended love scene between J.C. and Jade, sourced from VHS; a windsurfing promo set to a rock version of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor; and an animated still gallery featuring 48 behind-the-scenes images, posters, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles (including all of the stills from MVD Rewind’s release). Rounding things out is a “TV spot,” which is more likely an Australian VHS preview for the film, and the film’s trailer. The only thing missing from the MVD release is a fold-out poster. Not included from Umbrella’s original DVD release are the film’s press kit and script. The disc sits inside a clear amaray case with double-sided artwork. The inner sleeve includes a note from the director, and the outer sleeve features the film’s Australian poster on the front and the US poster on the back. Everything is housed within a slipcover featuring the same new artwork as the MVD release.
Windrider may appear pretty toothless at first glance, and it is, but it grows on you the more you watch it. There’s nothing overly aggressive about it, but once you’re on P.C.’s side and want him to succeed, you’ll find yourself caught up in it. Umbrella’s Blu-ray release of the film ups the ante set by the MVD Rewind Collection release, but which offers the better transfer is up for grabs.
- Tim Salmons