Bustin’ Down the Door ( 2009)


Despite looking like a beach dweller for a significant portion of my life, surfing is not a sport that I have ever taken a particular interest in. I know the name Kelley Slater and I’ve seen a few pictures of him looking inconsequential and tiny on enormous waves but that really is the extent of my knowledge. I had no idea about the evolution of the sport from a past time in to a global phenomenon and that is the path that Bustin’ Down the Door takes.

The film centres on a group of Australian and South African surfers who made the trip to Hawaii’s North Shore in the 1970s with ambitions bigger than the current scene was able to hold. Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholemew, Mark Richards Ian Cairns from Australia and Shaun Thomson from South Africa would all go from noisy upstarts to world beaters and this is a catalogue of the highs and lows on that journey, and what a beautiful looking journey it is.

The story is simple enough, a rags to rags tale that sees a group of talented individuals chase their dreams but The vintage surf footage from the 70’s is what really makes this film stand out. The crashing blue waves are mesmerising even without the spectacle of young men risking their lives in an attempt to dominate the ocean. The hypnotic footage is inter cut with face to face interviews in which the main subjects look back on a life of following their dreams. They are a likable group of older men and their passion for the sport, even this far beyond their glory days, is still evident. To a man they are all in love with surfing and that love comes through in the film.

The only real problem the film faces is when it begins to stray in to violent territory. Around two-thirds of the way through the story the mood shifts from celebratory to tense as tales of violence and gang threats are recounted. It feels as though this section has been overblown in order to give the film some edge and break up the steady rise of good vibes that the film builds. The cover of the DVD contains the phrase “When the North Shore went to war”, but for the vast majority of the interviews it seems to be competitive but friendly between the native surfers and the newcomers.

Despite the blip in the narrative the film is well presented and well put together. The startling visuals combined with a great soundtrack ( that includes David Bowie, The Stooges and Leonard Cohen) and Edward Norton’s Fight Club voice-over narration mean that on a purely aesthetic basis Bustin’ Down the Door is a film worth watching. Beyond that, however, there is a great tale of young men chasing their dreams and succeeding.


Director: Jeremy Gosch

Certificate: 15


  • Extended interviews with Shaun Tomson, Rabbit Bartholomew, Eddie Rothman, Peter “PT” Townend, Mark Richards and Michael Tomson.
  • Extended non-stop surfing footage.
  • Founding the ASP featurette.
  • Formation of the IPS featurette.
  • The North Shore featurette.
  • Hawaiian Legends featurette.
  • World Premier footage.
  • Dan Merkel photograph slideshow.



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