A FEW minutes into Two Hands, we’re outside a strip club on Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, when two menacing Aussie legends fill up the frame: actor Bryan Brown in the passenger seat of a purple XA GT hardtop. It’s an arresting, iconic image.
Brown plays Pando, the local crime boss, and the GT is the prized possession of his merciless enforcer, Acko (Field). A few scenes later, Pando prevails upon Acko to lend the coupe to the gang’s new recruit, 19-year-old Jimmy (Ledger):
Pando: “Give him your fucking keys.”
Acko: “You’re not taking my fucking car!”
Pando: “It’s only going to take 20 minutes; he needs a car, so give him your fucking keys.”
Acko: “I just got the gearbox done.
Pando: “Good, that means it fucking works. Now give him your keys.”
Jimmy takes the XA to Bondi to deliver 10 grand to one of Pando’s contacts, but he stuffs things up royally and both the money and the XA are stolen.
Jimmy flees to his bad-arse sister-in-law, Deirdre (a distractingly foxy Porter). Meanwhile, Acko and his mates track down the XA, which then becomes a symbol of terror as the gang prowls the streets of Sydney, hunting Jimmy.
Despite being one of the few people in history to discover an actual use for the Sydney Monorail, Jimmy is soon caught by the gang and bundled into the back of the coupe to meet his fate. But the spirit of Jimmy’s deceased older brother (Vidler) – who looks a little like a decomposing Bon Scott and serves as the film’s narrator – intervenes, and Jimmy escapes.
Rather than follow the sensible advice of his new love interest Alex (Byrne) and leave town, Jimmy implores Deirdre to organise a bank robbery to repay his debt to Pando.
This leads to the film’s second iconic image. Deirdre drives a hot HQ Statesman, and when we arrive at her mum’s place where the heist is being organised, the front yard is filled with the Statesman, an HT Monaro, an A9X-style LX hatch and a VL Walkinshaw. The letterbox is topped with a Belmont badge, and the number of the house? 186. It is clear that, unlike in Mad Max, the ‘good’ guys in Two Hands drive Holdens while the bad guys drive Fords.
Jimmy’s accomplices even use stolen Holdens for their bank job. “What are we riding in?” asks nappy bag-toting head robber Wozza (Le Marquand).
“Commodores,” replies the crew’s driver, Craig (Darcy-Smith).
“All right,” says Wozza, approvingly.
Poor Craig doesn’t survive the robbery, and a grieving Wozza gives a memorable eulogy as the three surviving members of the crew count their earnings: “He was a good mate. A bloody good driver. He was a top mechanic. I seen him once tune twin-barrel carbies by ear. With a beer in his hand. He could do a full reco on a 350 donk and get it back into that car in less than a day.”
THE BEST CAR MOVIES OF ALL TIME
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WHILE it might have only one real car chase, Two Hands offers enough hot car action to satisfy, and many other attractions besides. It’s suspenseful, funny as you like and even moving. More than two decades after its release, it now also has the power of nostalgia on its side, showcasing a Sydney that is mostly long-gone. The soundtrack (featuring Powderfinger, Crowded House and more) is a cracker, too.
- 1973 XA GT hardtop
- 1982 XE Falcon sedan
- 1993 VR Commodore
- 1988 VL Walkinshaw
- 1977 LX Torana hatchback
- 1969 HT Monaro GTS
- 1971 HQ Statesman
- 1990 Toyota Celica
- 1987 Nissan Pathfinder
- Heath Ledger
- Rose Byrne
- Bryan Brown
- Tom Long
- Susie Porter
- David Field
- Steve Vidler
- Mariel McClorey
- Kiri Paramore
- Steve Le Marquand
- Kieran Darcy-Smith
Bank robbers flee the scene of the crime in a stolen Celica, chased by a radio station promo car trying to present them with a big cash prize
A 19-year-old strip club spruiker gets caught out of his depth in the Sydney underworld
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COOL FLICK FACT:
The XA coupe was owned by director Gregor Jordan, and was later bought by comedian Merrick Watts and featured in Street Machine. Watts sold the car at auction in 2011.