Spetters [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (1st September 2018).
The Film

Oh, to be young, horny and attractive as all of the participants in Paul Verhoeven’s coming of age story "Spetters" (a Dutch slang term with many different definitions, but essentially Hot Shot in English, but also it can mean splatter such as when Fientje is making French fries) set in Rotterdam in the ever loving hey days of youthful indiscretion, the early 80’s. Everyone here is attractive, but especially the three main male characters: Rien (Hans van Tongeren), Eef (Toon Agterberg) and Hans (Maarten Spanjer), and they are lining up like sex starved idiots when they get an eyeful of new hottie in town, Fientje (Renée Soutendijk) with her curly blonde locks and pert breasts on display as she slings hash in a camper outfit that is manned by her and her brother (Peter Tuinman). And did I mention that there is plenty of sexuality on display here; all kinds and types, and those blatant instances of sexuality came under fire as Verhoeven managed to push everyone’s buttons simultaneously causing the critics to lambast this film as a work of perversion. Perhaps, but this is perversion that is thoughtfully presented and framed by cinematographer Jost Vacano as he has an excellent eye for details and the participants in the film.

The plot as it unfolds is about the three lads and their mutual love of the sport of motocross but there is much more going on than simply ridding around a dirt track on a fast bike. All three boy’s engines are running on high octane fuel as they are quickly growing into manhood and leaving adolescence and its rituals behind. Rien is quickly getting the lion’s share of attention as he is swiftly becoming a motocross champion in the footsteps of their local hero Witkamp (Rutger Hauer); the other boy Hans, and their mechanic, Eef are all pals in a town on the outskirts of Rotterdam. All three are looking for something in one way or another but they become unified in their pursuit of Fientje and all three are changed afterwards by the experience. I remember seeing Verhoven’s later film, "The 4th Man" (1983), that starred both Renée Soutendijk and Jeroen Krabbé in a stylish thriller that contained elements of Film Noir and signalled a new talent on the scene; Verhoeven later went on to direct the Hollywood success’ "Robocop" (1987), "Total Recall" (1990), and "Basic Instinct" (1992), but here in this film we can see the director trying out some new directions.

This film reminded me of the American film "Breaking Away" (1979) directed by Peter Yates with its similar themes of escape from the boundaries of home and the pursuit of excellence via bicycle racing. There is a darkness revealed in the trio’s behavior as all three boy’s lives are altered in their pursuit of the blonde fry cook. The character of Hans is played strictly for laughs as he has the cycle that constantly fails, but in the end, he is the victor as he ends up with Fientje after the other two boys have given her a go. Rien and Eef both undergoes serious changes in their lives; Rien suffering a life changing accident that lives him paralyzed and ends his career. Eef, displays a criminal bent with his gay bashing behavior that momentarily rewards him with money, but in the end, he is brutally gang raped by Fientje’s brother and his pals, thus uncovering a concealed homosexual streak.

Verhoeven really pushes the good taste envelope as sexuality abounds in this film, including several scenes of frontal male nudity, female nudity, and in one scene an explicit homosexual act. I was impressed that Verhoeven had convinced his young stars that the nude scenes were needed for the importance of the film and not simply for an erotic charge. However, on a sad note the actor that played Rien, Hans van Tongeren actually ended up committing suicide on August 25, 1982; he had admitted to identifying all too strongly with the characters he was portraying.

Rutger Hauer is all flash in this role as he is all Nordic good looks and a beguiling smile as he portrays the champion racer Gerrit Witkamp. This film was only a few years before Hauer would be awing American audiences as the lead replicant Roy Batty in Ridley Scott’s impressive sci-fi detective hybrid "Blade Runner" (1982), but here he is a supporting player and not one of the leads. Hauer was a regular character actor for Verhoeven as he had starred in the lead in his earlier film, "Turkish Delight" (1973).

There is a lot of youth culture in this film and although some of it definitely appears dated with its Blondie tracks playing on the radio and its disco dancing contest, I still found myself completely pulled into its storyline. I kept thinking that Hans van Tongeren was a dead ringer for James Honeyman-Scott from the earlier lineup of The Pretenders with his red feathered hair and leather jacket. This was an interesting variation on the typical coming of age story with an unexpected depth coming from all of the characters. The soundtrack is all screaming 80’s guitars and is appropriately fitting given the storyline courtesy of composer Ton Scherpenzeel.

Video

Presented in widescreen 1.66:1 mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The image is very good considering the date of the materials, featuring a brand new 4K restoration. There are many interesting shots in the film and the film is tightly edited. The images are very sharp and clear with no signs of damage or scratches.

Audio

The only audio here is the original Dutch DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono, the audio track is generally average with some scenes exploding with screaming guitars on the soundtrack or with the revving of motorcycle engines as they race around the track. Optional subtitles are included in English.

Extras

Kino Lorber includes an audio commentary track by Director Paul Verhoeven. In English with a strong accent.

There's an animated image gallery (4:24).

The original theatrical trailer for the film is also featured (2:10).

Finally there's a bonus trailer for:

- "Flesh and Blood" (2:34).

Packaging

Comes packaged in a plastic Blu-ray keep case with some b*tching artwork, dude!

Overall

"Spetters" is a surprisingly engrossing drama about some youths and their friends set in Rotterdam with a backdrop of motocross racing.

The Film: A Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: B+ Overall: B

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.