A gang of violent neo-Nazis from Footscray, Victoria, Australia, attack three Vietnamese Australian teenagers, in a tunnel at Footscray Station. The gang is led by Hando with his friend and second-in-command, Davey. They meet Gabrielle the day after her sexually abusive, highly affluent father Martin, has her junkie boyfriend arrested, before Gabrielle starts a romantic association with Hando.
Friends visit from Canberra; one of whom has joined the Royal Australian Navy. A party at the warehouse follows, the next day two boys go to their local pub. Unbeknownst to them, the owner has sold it to a Vietnamese businessman. Upon seeing the new owner and his sons, they inform Hando and he and his gang arrive and savagely beat the new owner's sons. A third Vietnamese youth phones for help, before Tiger and several armed Vietnamese men descend upon the skinheads. The Vietnamese outnumber the skinheads and force them to retreat to their rented warehouse, where the Vietnamese ransack the building before setting it on fire.
The skinheads find a new base at a nearby warehouse, after evicting a pair of squatters, and plan their revenge against the Vietnamese. Learning that gang members plan to buy a gun, two female friends of the gang depart. Gabrielle suggests the gang burgle her father's mansion. They ransack the house, beat up Martin, smash one of his cars, and raid his wine collection. Gabrielle tells Martin the burglary is revenge for his years of abuse. Gabrielle reveals to Davey her plan to take Hando away from his violent life. Martin frees himself and uses a handgun to scare away the gang before they can take any of his property. However, Davey begins to have doubts about his violent lifestyle.
Gabrielle criticizes Hando's handling of the robbery, and he abruptly dumps her. Davey announces his intention to leave at the same time and gives Gabrielle his German grandmother's address, where he will be staying. Gabrielle informs the police of the gang's location and spends the night with Davey. However, Davey reveals his doubts about his violent lifestyle, having removed the racist patches from his flight jacket out of concern for his grandmother.
While Hando is out, the police raid the warehouse and the youngest skinhead is shot in the head after pointing a deactivated gun at the police. The police arrest the rest of the gang. However, Hando watches from a distance and flees.
Arriving at Davey's flat, Hando finds his friend in bed with Gabrielle. Hando accuses her of informing the police, but Davey says they were together the whole time since leaving the squat. Hando convinces Davey to stick by him, and the trio go on the run. They rob a service station, before Hando strangles the Asian attendant to death; and, driving all night, they stop at a beach. The next morning on the beach, Gabrielle overhears a conversation wherein Hando tries to convince Davey to leave her behind. Gabrielle sets their car on fire and admits to phoning the police. Hando attacks her, attempting to drown her in the surf. However, Davey stabs Hando in the neck with his Hitler Youth knife. After the fight, Davey cradles a horrified Gabrielle, watched by a busload of Japanese tourists; and Hando gazes at the ocean as he bleeds to death.Russell Crowe as Hando
Daniel Pollock as Davey
Jacqueline McKenzie as Gabrielle
Tony Lee as Tiger
Alex Scott as Martin
Leigh Russell as Sonny Jim
Dan Wyllie as Cackles
James McKenna as Bubs
Eric Mueck as Champ
Frank Magree as Brent
Christopher McLean as Luke
John Brumpton as Magoo
Geoffrey Wright's script was inspired by the highly publicised crimes of leading Melbourne Neo-Nazi skinhead Dane Sweetman. Wright contacted Sweetman via mail in 1991, to request an interview. Sweetman was at that time in the process of serving a life sentence in Pentridge Prison for murder. The interview could not be arranged in a timely manner due to prison regulations, so the two men commenced correspondence, and Sweetman furnished Wright with a transcript of his murder trial, from which Wright drew influence. This influence is most clearly seen in the line delivered by Hando when scaring off squatters from the warehouse: "I'll chop your legs off". It is a direct reference to Sweetman's having cut off the legs of his victim.
That was one of many aspects of the film that mirrored Sweetman's life. A further example is the characters Gabrielle, Davey, and the punk girls were all based on associates of Sweetman. Sweetman's name was conspicuously absent in the end credits, however. This issue was raised in the Australian media during the publicity phase of promoting the film. Russell Crowe acknowledged the origin of his character during an interview on Tonight Live with Steve Vizard in 1992. Wright also spoke of the influence during a radio interview in the same year.
The film was financed by the Australian Film Commission with Film Victoria.
The film's score was released by Picture This Records. It included the orchestral music and the energetic punk rock music similar to the Oi! genre (recorded by studio musicians).
White Power labels have bootlegged the RAC tracks and released them on a 7" many times since the soundtrack's release. In 2011, a Russian WP label released the whole soundtrack on a 12". The RAC songs are often misattributed to real RAC bands on peer to peer sites, with Skrewdriver being used often. The band is also often called "Master Race" due to Peter Pales's German-language monologue in the beginning of "Pulling On the Boots". Some people have also considered the Australian punk band the Bastard Squad to have done the soundtrack, due to the line "Jason from the Bastard Squad" being in the thank you section at the movie's end credits. The actual versions of the RAC songs used in the film are earlier versions to what ended up on the commercial CD—most obvious being "Fuhrer Fuhrer", which plays in the scene after Hando is notified about Vietnamese being at the Railway Hotel—Clifford-White's intonation is slightly different and there are no backing vocals in the chorus.
John Clifford White – vocals
John Hewett – guitar
Chris Pettifer – bass
Phillip Beard – drums
Peter Pales – German vocals on "Pulling On the Boots"
John Hawker – conductor
Produced by Doug Brady
All songs composed and written by John Clifford White
- "Romper Stomper Theme"
- "Pulling on the Boots"
- "Skinheads Go Shopping"/"Gabe Sees Swastika"
- "Mein Kampf"
- "Fuhrer Fuhrer"
- "Let's Break Some Fingers/Brawl Crawl"
- "The Smack Song"
- "Tonguey for the Skins/Nightmare for the Hippies"
- "At the Mansion"
- "We Came to Wreck Everything"
- "Wild Animals 1"
- "Bubs Dead/Gabe Finds Davey"
- "Gabe and Davey"
- "Fourth Reich Fighting Men"
- "Night Drive"
- "On the Beach"
- "Wild Animals 2"
- "Fourth Reich Fighting Men (Reprise)"
- "The Dead Nazi March"
The film was nominated for nine Australian Film Institute Awards. It won Best Achievement in Sound, Best Actor in a Lead Role and Best Original Music Score.
Romper Stomper grossed $3.2 million at the box office in Australia. The film was has an approval rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. David Stratton of SBS The Movie Show praised the acting style in the film but was appalled at the level of violence, and as a consequence refused to give it a rating while fellow Movie Show critic Margaret Pomeranz gave it four-and-a-half stars. Stratton also described the film in Variety as "A Clockwork Orange without the intellect". Wright was so upset by Stratton's rating that he later poured a glass of wine on Stratton during a chance meeting at the 1994 Venice Film Festival. Stratton would many years later clarify his rating stating: "I think Romper Stomper was a very well-made film and an extremely well-acted film, and I thought Geoffrey Wright had a lot of talent. What troubled me about Romper Stomper was that it was made in a time, I think 1992, when there had been some racial problems with young Vietnamese people, particularly in Melbourne, and...I thought the film could stir up more violence..."
The film was highly controversial because of its violent content. In March 2000, British prisoner Robert Stewart bludgeoned his cellmate, Zahid Mubarek, to death with a wooden table leg at the Feltham Young Offenders' Institution. In 2004, Stewart was found guilty of the racially motivated murder of Mubarek and was jailed for life. Stewart compared himself to Hando in Romper Stomper as well as Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange. An inquiry heard that Stewart had watched Romper Stomper two days before the killing. A member of the inquiry team said he was a prolific letter writer, and much of his correspondence contained racist and violent content: "He sees himself in the correspondence starring in the film Romper Stomper as a racist thug attacking gooks," the inquiry was told. The Anti-Nazi League protested against the film's London premiere.
Dylann Roof, the perpetrator of the Charleston church shooting, had an image of Hando dying on the homepage of his personal website.
In August 2017, Australian video streaming service Stan announced that it was producing Romper Stomper, a six-part television series, as a sequel to the film. The film's director, Geoffrey Wright, will direct two episodes, alongside fellow directors Daina Reid and James Napier Robertson. The actors reprising their original roles are Jacqueline McKenzie, Dan Wyllie and John Brumpton.