Retro Review: The Road Warrior

The text below the break is part of a DVD review originally published on March 7th, 2000.

Here are some updated thoughts:  I thought it appropriate that I dig up an old The Road Warrior (a.k.a. Mad Max 2) review since we are on the heals of George Miller’s 4th installment . . . Mad Max: Fury Road.  The bad news is that Mel Gibson is no longer associated with the franchise.  The good news is that the talented yet batshit insane Mel Gibson is no longer associated with the franchise.

As I mention below The Road Warrior was my first exposure to the Mad Max milieu.  I had no knowledge of the original Mad Max, which I quickly went back to and watched once I was able to find a copy of it (probably on VHS).  Beyond Thunderdome has it’s problems, the main being it’s incredibly boring and out of place middle section when Max is rescued by a group of children.  Ugh.  Fury Road returns Max to his true element:  a loner trying to survive in the wasteland against incredible odds.

The Mad Max series is one of the favorite in my DVD/Bluray collection.[divider style=”dashed” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]

I remember going to The Road Warrior back in 1982.  My brother suggested we go see this movie that I had heard nothing about, knew nothing about, and had no apparent stars in it.  Mel Gibson?  Who the hell is that?  I was up for it.  I had no expectations or knowledge going in . . . and I walked out of the theater in a daze.  I had just witnessed one of the most full throttled, visceral, action packed, car trashing movies I had ever seen.  This is the movie that the incredibly cheesy Death Race 2000 (a movie I had wanted to see as a kid, but was too young!) wished it would have been!  I had just witnessed the defining of a new genre:  the post-apocalyptic wasteland flick . . . or whatever its official name is.

[box type=”error” align=”” class=”” width=””]The Road WarriorMax is the anti-hero loner who drives the roads of outback Australia in an unending search for gasoline.  Arrayed against him and the other scraggly defenders of a fuel-depot encampment are bizarre warriors, notorious for never taking prisoners.  When battle ensues, the results are savage, violent and spectacular.

The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)
Director:  George Miller
Starring:  Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells
Genre:  Science Fiction / Post-apocalyptic
Media:  Film, 93 minutes
Rating:  R
Budget: $4.5 million
Box Office: $23.7 million, North America
Year: May 21, 1982
4.5 out of 5 stars[/box]

Mel Gibson stars as Max Rockatansky, a former cop turned burnout who had lost his family to a band of outback motorcycle thugs in the original Mad Max.  In order to regain some of his humanity, and out of necessity, he decides to help a civilized enclave that had tapped an oil well and is refining gasoline (or “guzzeline” for those Road Warrior regulars).  Gasoline being a hot commodity in the post-nuclear age caused this little group to be very popular with a gang of crazies led by radiation scarred Humungus.  What did they want?  Oh nothing . . . just to take all their gas, violate all the women, and kill everything left over.  Mad Max to the rescue, but it wouldn’t be that easy.

The action in The Road Warrior was spectacular back in 1982, and still is today.  Practical effects convey true threat and action far better than any cartoony CGI ever will.  Though it is still fresh and exciting, it pales in comparison to some of the high tech stunts done in today’s movies.  The cool thing about the stunts in The Road Warrior?  No special effects needed.  What you see is what you get . . . and that’s lots of burning rubber, exhaust fumes, flames, and explosions.  Many of the car chase scenes are filmed from asphalt level which makes the speed feel even more realistic and dangerous.  Wez (the dude in the header above) is one of my favorite antagonists in film.  You just love to hate this guy . . . and when he and The Humungus meet at the very end . . . well, I’ll save that for those who haven’t seen it.

What more can I say about The Road Warrior?  The film is light on dialogue and heavy on action.  The plot is pretty simple:  survive!  This movie defined a genre that has been unsuccessfully ripped off for years, and turned the loon Mel Gibson into a superstar almost overnight.  It’s a full throttled look into a violent and hate filled world fueled by the need for gasoline and survival.

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Note:   I’m revisiting and re-posting many older articles (almost 200) I’ve written (or contributed to) over the years, either for my own purposes or as contributions to other sites now long digitally decayed and dormant.  These reviews/articles will appear in their nearly raw, unaltered form, with a few updated thoughts at the beginning of each.

© 2015-2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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