Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms

I’m not really a subscriber to the theory that dramatisations of criminals is necessarily “glorifying” them.

Drama is about context, and while a network may package such characters in sexy promos, in my experience these types always get their come-uppance in the miniseries or telemovie when viewed in full.

TEN’s Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms benefits from perfect timing. Stories of motorcycle gangs are back in the news in Sydney, including referencing both the Comancheros and Bandidos clubs. In 1984 both infamously went to war on Father’s Day at the Viking Tavern in Milperra. Seven people lost their lives, including one child, with many more injured.

Now it has been turned into a six-part miniseries, produced by Screentime (Underbelly, Cloudstreet, Crownies, Tricky Business) for TEN.

Leading the Comancheros is Jock Ross (Matt Nable), a self-appointed chief recruiting bikers to his club. Ross wants to make the Comancheros the best club in Australia.

Newly recruited is Snoddy (Callan Mulvey), who is new in town and grateful to fit in. It’s deceptively alluring: riding hot bikes, hanging out with sexy girls, lazing on the beach and plenty of beer. He even gets a swift education on how to secure a suped-up bike without ever having to pay for it.

The Comancheros also stick together. “If you insult someone, we defend ourselves,” he learns. “It’s all about your mates.”

Much of the first episode, penned by Greg Haddrick, focusses on Snoddy’s induction into the club.The script is based on a book of the same name by Sandra Harvey and Lindsay Simpson.

Foggy (Richard Cawthorne) isn’t so welcoming -unlike the groupie girlfriends, letting it all hang out. Yes in the early 80s the women were quite happy to get about topless (the blokes only respond with bare buttocks).

Susie Porter as Jock’s squeeze Vanessa, is one of three key female roles. She doesn’t get to do much in episode one.

Director Peter Andrikidis (Underbelly, East West 101, The Informant) brings some of his Underbelly DNA to this project. There are slow-mo scenes, montages and a fair whack of female breasts. Some scenes drag, reiterating what has already been well-established.

Nable is strong as the Comancheros leader, while Mulvey (sporting one of several dodgy wigs in the drama) is used to delivering aloof performances. But his viewpoint provides an accessible way into this story, given he will have a pivotal role in the fatal war.

Other roles will be played by Anthony Hayes, Todd Lasance, Luke Ford, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Damian Walshe-Howling, Nathaniel Dean, Aaaron Fa’aoso and Luke Hemsworth. Mark Lizotte will provide music an Production Designer Tim Ferrier has done a good job in recreating the era.

Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms is in cruise-mode for some of its first instalment. This feels like it will hit the money when the fight takes place at the Viking Tavern. Looking forward to those scenes.

Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms premieres 8:30pm Tuesday on TEN and is preceded by Bikie Wars: Here & Now at 8pm.


  1. I’ve been watching Bikie Wars,,Brothers in Arms. What a load of shit..How the hell can a “true Story”be so wrong!
    To the makers of this show…I would sack your researchers or get them a stint on a kids program. They obviously didn’t do their job.

  2. At last a Ten drama which easily gets over one million viewers? It has been years since this has happened and these ratings really over shadow Offspring. So well done Ten. But really the drama itself is a bit underwhelming with lazy montages instead of real story telling and repetitive rock n roll. Again another Aussie drama is let down by pedestrian writing. Perhaps Ten just needs to commission more Aussie drama and bring a much more critical eye to it and it will get great drama and strong ratings.

  3. I think Anthony Sharwood’s review on The Punch site says it best:
    “Bikiewars: Brothers in Arms premiered on Channel Ten last night and it was fine television, if by fine television you mean yet another drama glamourising the absolute dregs of Australian society.”

  4. This is the best show ive seen in yrs!!
    I just with now it was a proper series. Ten should do something like this to keep as a series like sons of anarchy.

  5. Well, it was funny (it was supposed to be a comedy, wasn’t it?) – at least, we enjoyed taking the piss out of the first 10 minutes before we dropped off to watch Mad Men.

    Not as funny as the show before it, though. Kept expecting Chas Licciardello from The Chaser (or Mike Moore from Frontline) to take over…

    “The combined clubs are preparing to ride en mass to Kings Cross, where they plan to deliver parcels – or ‘presents’, as they’re known in bikie slang – to unsuspecting sick children…”

  6. Too slow – nothing happened – it’s all set up for the next episode. Funky soundtrack is wallpapering over huge cracks in the script. Very disappointing. From the promo it looks like something actually happens in the next episode.

  7. The comparison to Dexter is not a valid one. There is a large number of people who live on the fringe and potentially emboldened by glamorisation of petty hoodlums (the fact these people receive their just desserts by the end of the story doesn’t really matter). Only a very small part of the population has potential to become a serial killer and would probably do so without Dexter’s help. Also, Dexter is American and a totally unbelievable character, whereas shows like Bikie Wars are rooted in reality.

  8. I agree David, Dexter isn’t glorifying serial killers is he, or what about the more recent series The Client?

    I’m just not sure if putting this against the family friendly Rafters will help them and maybe it should be on at the later 9:30 time slot?

  9. Secret Squirrel

    Gotta say, I have the same reservations as Tex from the ads I’ve seen. It looks like a turd. An inaccurately glamorous turd but one all the same.

  10. Noticed how bad the wigs look from the promos… Same hair and make up department as “Tough Nuts” on CI? It’s already put me off a bit. It just looks cheap…

  11. Not that I’ve seen it, and I should know better than to doubt you David, but is this really a 3 1/2 star show?

    From the ads so far, it looks like an Aunty beard drama from the 70’s (Rush, etc) transported to the real 70’s (i.e. fewer muttonchops, more sideburns), with Underbelly-level T&A & Holiday Island-level script and acting.

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