Monday, April 4, 2011

Red Hill - Ryan Kwanten's Engaging Australian Western

Australians are getting more adventurous exploring the western and action genre. One such oeuvre is the director Patrick Hughes' western-style "Red Hill". If you're familiar with HBO's fantastic vampire series, "True Blood" - then I am sure you know Ryan Kwanten who plays lead.


A young police officer relocates to the desolate and arid town of Red Hill to give his wife the chance to carry their baby to term. She has had miscarriage before and may not survive the stressful city life. But Shane Cooper's (Ryan Kwanten) transfer isn't as easy as it looks. On his first day at work, he couldn't find his gun. Moreover, the sheriff and his colleagues aren't very welcoming souls. To make matters worse, a convicted murderer named Jimmy Conway has escaped prison and is believed to be heading their way for his revenge. What's a guy to do?

Despite several scenes involving idiotic characters who would rather crawl to their deaths than use their rifles on an expected assassin, you somehow sit up and watch as the young constable is gradually coming to grips with the mechanics behind this vendetta - and why crazy Conway spared his life when he had the chance to kill him.

Some narrative threads unravel too easily (a confession letter handed down by someone who was on the verge of death), but the characters are, on the whole, an intriguing bunch. You'd somehow wonder why the local population of men would refuse "back up help".

We all know how naughty Ryan Kwanten's highly-sexed town hearthrob Jason Stackhouse is in "True Blood" so it took me awhile to warm up to a thoughtful, mild mannered and soft spoken Shane Cooper - our protagonist. But Kwanten competently acquits himself. The use of its dusty and craggy location (filmed in Omeo, Victoria) effectively creates a sense of isolation. I am not too crazy with its theme of redemption in vengeance, but there is catharsis to be had from justice. Despite a bevy of imbecilic characters who can't shoot a stationary target even at close range, "Red Hill" is sure fire entertainment.

But really now, a panther in Australia?

Kwanten as Constable Cooper falls off a hill and survives.

Vendetta stalks the sleepy town of Red Hill.

Youthful Ryan Kwanten is Constable Shane Cooper in "Red Hill". He is actually 33 years old with 2 brothers - a musician and a doctor. As an Australian actor, he was in soap "Home and Away" for 5 years playing the role of a lifeguard.

Ryan' s advice to his "True Blood" cast mates on nudity: "I seem to be the go-to guy for any kind of nudity advice on the show because I came out of the gates pretty strong," he says, chuckling. His advice for the fellow players getting ready to bare it all? "To tie the "modesty sock" on really tight," Kwanten says, laughing, "because you don't want that thing coming off, because there will be evidence of that forever."

Newbie director Patrick Hughes

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