Director: George Miller
Stars: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Review by Brian M. Sammons
This one almost slipped by me, but I managed to snag it at the last second. Granted, isn’t not a horror movie, so maybe that’s why it almost went under my radar, but can anyone out there deny that this movie isn’t made out of 100% pure awesome? It basically started the subgenre of post-apocalypse flicks that were in vogue in the early and mid-eighties and it put Australian films on the map. Well, for everyone outside of Australian at least. It was also the first time we got to see Mel Gibson before he became a superstar, and long before he became a raving crackpot. In all ways this movie is a classic and one all dudes must have in their collection or else hand over their dude card. So this flick has no masked slashers, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, and thankfully no vampires, but it’s pure badass action. Oh, and while not a slasher, it does have one memorable psycho, not to mention a great antihero, and so much car porn it ought to be illegal.
Mel plays Max, a young cop in a very strange world. This movie is often called “post-apocalyptic” but it’s like no other apocalypse ever put to film. Max’s world is at the beginning of the end. While it will be a full-blown wasteland in the two sequels, in this film everything is almost normal, but just slightly askew. There are no nuked cities or drooling radioactive mutants, but there is a police force struggling to hold things together in a world rapidly spinning out of control. The most noticeable and notable harbingers of the end times are the gangs that pillage and ravage at will, almost with impunity. Or so they think. When Max runs down a rampaging psychotic called The Night Rider, he is put on a path of conflict with his motorcycle gang led by an even bigger nutjob, The Toecutter. When Toecutter and his crew kill Max’s wife and baby, well that’s when he becomes Mad Max and a man out for revenge in the best Charles Bronson tradition.
If you like revenge flicks, then you’ll love this movie. If you like post-apocalyptic movies, then you might dig this film if you want to see a world spiraling downwards instead of a movie where everything has already hit the bottom. If you like action then you’ll need something to catch your drool as this movie has action to spare, especially of the two and four wheeled variety. And speaking of wheels, if you love cars, then you may need something else to catch another spewing bodily fluid as baby, does this movie love vehicles and the mayhem that they can bring about. Mad Max has some of the most spectacular car and bike stunts ever. Gearheads rejoice, your Citizen Kane is finally out in glorious High Definition.
This Blu-ray/DVD combo pack by MGM gives us the best looking Mad Max ever. It looks amazing and the action almost jumps off the screen at you. For a low budget film made in Australia in 1980, that was quite a surprise. To go along with the film’s good looks are a nice selection of extras and special features. There’s an audio commentary track, trailers, photo galleries and TV spots. In addition to those usual suspects there’s a nice featurette on what an international sensation the movie was called “Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon,” a documentary on Mel Gibson and his rise to superstar status, and a trivia track.
Like I said at the start, this movie is a classic and as such it is easily recommended. If you don’t already own this film, this is a great way to get it. If you already have the DVD then it’s time to upgrade. However you slice it, Mad Max on Blu-ray is a must own.