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The Combination (2009)

6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 614 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 7 critic

Set in the multi-racial suburbs of Sydney, Lebanese-Australian John is released from goal to find his younger brother Charlie caught in the very same world of crime that put him behind bars.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
John Morkos
...
Charlie
Doris Younane ...
Mary
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
John Brumpton ...
Mr. Roberts
Rashad Dehan ...
Tom
Michael Denkha ...
Ibo
Adam Grossetti ...
Neighbour
Ali Haider ...
Zeus
...
Police Officer
Melissa Kleores ...
Police Officer
...
Issa
Guang Li ...
Nipper
Tyrone Lindqvist ...
Lesley
...
Clubbing Girl
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Storyline

Set in the maligned western suburbs of Sydney, Lebanese-Australian John gets out of gaol to discover his younger brother Charlie is caught up with drugs, hookers and crime. Charlie oscillates between the streets and school. Daily clashes between Scott and Charlie's gang escalate. This feud spills into the streets in a territory and identity battle that turns bloody. The Combination dares to shed light on the racial tension that has often boiled overĀ into incidents like the Cronulla riots. Suburban stereotypes are challenged when John falls for an Australian girl named Sydney. She presents an opportunity for a new start - yet with each step closer to her he is made painfully aware of the choice he will have to make - family or love. Written by The Filmmakers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Come see the real Australia See more »

Genres:

Drama

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 February 2009 (Australia)  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(HD)|

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the Australian Region 4 DVD cover, this movie "caused such a stir it was removed from some cinemas." See more »

Goofs

John drives to Ibo's house to deal with him, and ends up WALKING back home without his car for no apparent reason. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Honest ethnic drama
21 March 2009 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

This is a little Aussie movie that packs a punch. With a not particularly original storyline (older brother gets out of jail and tries to stop younger brother from going down the gangs - drugs – crime – jail path, a la "American History X"), the film puts the story in a Lebanese-Australian context. These Lebanese have a Christian background yet are still treated as aliens by the Anglos. Not surprisingly gangs form and are exploited by local criminals (the police, by the way, are pretty well on the sidelines).

What gives the story its power is the mapping out of the relationship of the older brother, former pro boxer John (George Basha) with his errant sibling Charlie (Firasss Dirani), and the effect of external pressures on their bond. John also develops an emotional relationship with a beautiful Anglo girl, Sydney, (Clare Bowen) but this is mild compared for the feelings he has for his family. There is plenty of headline stuff here, knifings in the street, drive-by shootings, teenage drug-dealing (cocaine seems to be the drug of choice these days) set against TV footage of our very own race riots at Cronulla in 2005.The ending, however, is not quite the disaster one might have expected.

One interesting question raised is: just what are Aussie values anyway? John as a migrant kid finds that his Lebanese relatives see him as an Australian, while fellow pupils see him as Lebanese. His Anglo girlfriend's father spouts the assimilationist line, but by the end Sydney seems to have gone over to the Lebanese side. Charlies' school is an ethnic battleground and relationships between the ethnic groups do not seem to be improving. John, however, shows every sign of climbing out of the mire and the film ends on a hopeful note.

David Field, a veteran character actor who specializes in downtrodden ocker types, has as a first time director come up with the aid of George Basha's script with a colorful, noisy dramatic, and yet authentic, story. He is aided by some standout performances from his leads and from a goodly number of not well-known but talented and experienced actors in some of the key supporting roles roles,. Doris Younane as John and Charlies' widowed mum Mary, John Brumpton as Sydney's dad and Michael Denkha as the local crime boss are particularly good, and the cinema photography and editing are first rate, though as I saw it screened there was a peculiar flicker.

The script is pretty crisp, but some of the characters could have done with a little more of their back story. How did Zeus the gang leader (the burly Ali Haidler, very convincing) get to be such a menace, for instance? What happened to John and Charlie's dad? There was also a surprising gap in the storyline when, about a third of the way through the gang is involved in the knifing of another student. They flee the scene but are arrested by the cops at gunpoint. In the next scene Charlie is free as if nothing has happened, and there is no further reference to the incident.

Even so, this is a bright start to Aussie movies for 2009, and the kerfuffle over it being withdrawn from some cinemas will have given it some much-needed publicity. Compared with "Underbelly", for example, this is a very honest piece of work.


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