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Mad Max (1979) is a low budget Aussie film that became a huge success
in the U.S. because of it's sequel Mad Max 2 a.k.a. The Road Warrior.
Not only did this movie spawned a franchise but it created a new genre
of film (the post apocalyptic wasteland/road film) many rip-offs and
pro wrestlers inspired by the movie and it's sequels.
Mel Gibson (in his greatest role in my opinion) stars as "Mad" Max, a cop who has seen too much while trying to enforce the law in a dying society. After clashing with the Night Rider, he incurs the wrath of his bikie buddies Toecutter and co. Toecutter has to be one of the most scuzziest and at the same time coolest bad guys. I like the way he tries to justify him and his crew's actions. Ditto for his right-hand man Bubba. Beautiful cinematography, fast paced action and awesome stunts make this movie a winner.
I have seen both versions of the movie (the U.S. dubbed version and the original Aussie soundtrack). For full enjoyment stick to the original version because they sound like real people, not like cartoon characters or cheesy b-movie villains. A true winner.
After not seeing it for about seven years, I just saw it on DVD for the
first time. I remembered it as an exciting near-chaos-future adventure
with highway cops in muscle cars and one insane biker gang. It's great
how it keeps on standing the test of time. High speed and raw power are
of every age, past and future. The way the highway action is shot in
this movie simply stays exhilarating, putting it in the top ranking of
best high-speed-chase movies ever. Seeing the camera follow the highway
marker at high speed, along with the sound of a bike- or V8-engine
delivers a Mad and chaotic but really cool result. The pace of the
movie remains considerably high, without many slow moments.
Some aspects of the movie have (understandably) dated. Obviously the 70's clothing and hair styles. Sometimes the acting is a little over the top, and some characters could come directly from a comic book. And of course the story is not that deep or difficult. It's partly action-thriller, partly science fiction adventure. All weaknesses are covered and compensated by lots of a-moral fun though.
At the heart of this one of a kind look movie, there is a hero character named Max. This speed-demon-cop is at the top of his game on the highway, ruthlessly dealing with maniacs ravaging his jurisdiction. But he is also a happy family man with his wife and son. This duality makes the character human, timeless and very memorable. In some scenes you can clearly see Mel Gibson was only just getting into acting. For a rookie he was doing a good job nonetheless.
Others strengths lie within the scary nature of the biker gang. An extravagant rag-tag band of maniacs, led by the iconic villain The ToeCutter. To this day, their actions remain tough and very disturbing. It will have you staring at the screen dead serious, making Max' battle against them even more gratifying.
There is much to say about this movie, but first and foremost it is a must see. A cult classic still as enjoyable as it was nearly 30 years ago.
It was the very rawness and budgetary constraints of this little flick
made it what it was. A new kind of action hero in a new kind of world!
Gibson's laughably underpaid (though unavoidably so) contribution cannot
underestimated. He imbued Max with more than the script actually merited.
An attitude perhaps that struck a chord with many office-desk (wannabe)
vigilantes. After all, Max takes control of his own life - is not cowed
authority. Max is everyman, the one inside us that few get the chance to
loose. He is part Jesus, part Che, part James Dean, all Australian yobbo!
But this guy gets the job done - drop Max into Iraq next month and see
far Saddam Hussein gets trying to stock up on sarin!
Raw energy is what MAD MAX was all about! Distilled, tempered and inflamed by the time THE ROAD WARRIOR came around but at this juncture. a man on a mission and with the best tricked-up car since....well, THE CAR ! For those of you incidentally, totally mortified that his glorious black-hearted Interceptor was rendered dead-meat in MAD MAX 2, be comforted by the fact that it DOES in fact reside still in a museum in London (Why there and not Sydney I know not...perhaps for the same reason Australia still is not host to the cricket-ashes urn!) What chance of either's return when Greece can't even get the Elgin Marbles back?
Much has been made (and remembered) of the high-power car chases in this film, held by many in absolute reverence. In fact after the main cops vs The Nightrider work-out in the first few minutes of the flick, its pretty much all downhill in the action stakes - nothing subsequently in MAD MAX (1) comes near this brief sequence. This situation (with a way bigger budget) was inarguably reversed by the time THE ROAD WARRIOR came along. The stunts in THAT film have never been surpassed and remember this was without CGI fx.
MAD MAX has that indefinable 'something" the sequels didn't...perhaps just a raw innovation couldn't be duplicated - rather like ur first kiss. It might not have been the best, but it sure IS fondly remembered.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember my parents being such fans of Mad Max when I was a kid, but
the movie looked so boring in my eyes. I never really wanted to get
into it, I mean, I was a kid after all. But a few years ago in my film
appreciation class, we were watching clips from Mad Max 2 when studying
Australian films and I was intrigued with it. I finally remembered a
few weeks ago how I wanted to see the three movies, so I just watched
Mad Max and I have to say that I understand it's cult following. Mad
Max promises and delivers, it's a low budget action film, but has a
terrific story and excellent stunts. Mel Gibson, before he was Mel
Gibson in Hollywood, you could see why he made it so big, his presence
on screen is truly hypnotic and he makes a great hero. This story is so
scary in the fact that I don't think that we are far from this future.
Max Rockatansky lives in a time where his country has been taken over by violent, vicious motorcycle gang members who just go around torturing and killing people. Max and a few friends are the last members of the "semi" police force that is trying to get things back under control and bring some peace to their town. But when the gang messes with Max's friend by nearly burning him alive, Max is ticked and goes after them. But when the gang messes with Max's wife and child and kills them, oh, they've gone too far and now it's personal.
Mad Max's plot is basic and can be considered typical, but it's a fun action movie that truly delivers. The action sequences were really exciting, especially Max's revenge sequence, he was so amazing and I don't remember the last time I rooted so hard for the good guy to win. Mel Gibson was really cool and I had a good time watching Mad Max. I'm looking forward to the sequels. I would recommend this movie for a watch, it's a fun cult classic that I'm sure any action fan would enjoy.
This movie is primarily a classic, in my opinion, because it was the prequel
which led to THE ROAD WARRIOR, which really is a classic. MAD MAX was made
on a low budget, yes, and some nice things were done with very little money.
(Although choppy editing is inexcusable no matter how low the budget, and
there's lots of nonsensical editing in this flick.) THe opening sequences of
the film, in which the various police chase Nightrider, is fairly effective
and sets one up for ever increasing excitement. However, the movie heads
pretty much downhill from there in terms of excitement.
The events that make Max "Mad" happen so late in the film, and then his revenge is so abruptly carried out that it is about as anti-climactic as anything can be. Toecutter, whom we've grown to despise, should face a clever, hard-fought death at the hands of Max, instead of the abrupt end that comes to him almost without Max's help.
Mel Gibson is okay in the movie, but has little to do. THe actor playing Goose is the most fun, certainly. I only recommend the movie to those who feel they MUST have the backstory to The Road Warrior, but frankly, the future envisioned in MAD MAX is very different from the truly post-apocalyptic world of the ROAD WARRIOR.
Dr. George Miller's low budget Mad Max franchise impacted on Australian
culture and altered the perception of Australia and Australians
overseas in a way that no other Australian film had done. The films
explores themes such as 'man and the environment', 'fear provoking
post-apocalyptic future, family', 'masculinity in crisis', 'good versus
evil (Max as an iconic hero), Australian ethos and car culture; themes
often featured within Australian films yet presented in a stark and
dramatic way. The cinematographic impact is powerful; the human and
emotional appeal is timeless.
Australia's barren deserts presented the ideal setting for a post-apocalyptic environment. The film set is more identifiable as Australia as it was filmed around the city of Melbourne. Long deserted roads feature significantly in the film and the cinematographic device of taking long distant shots of Max demonstrates how small he is in the scale of the environment that he is living. It is a relentless, unforgiving environment which demands defeat or survival and marks the characters which play upon its stage.
Just as the physical setting is stark and desolate, the time setting and its associated events create an atmosphere of fear and foreboding which plays on the minds and emotions of contemporary viewers. In this fear provoking post apocalyptic future the few survivors of the nuclear holocaust are in warfare with one another, the rebel bikers and the police.
Good versus evil is a dominant discourse in many film genres and one which embraces the Australian ethos. Max possesses some highly valued "Australian" traits; in particular, those of the underdog, the battler, the hero. External forces beyond his control stop him from "winning" completely. Contrary to the Hollywood hero, the Australian hero is a pawn in the game of others, which explains why Max can never quite "win" in absolute terms. There is little public glorification of success in Australia; heroes are remembered for their style rather than for their achievements. (Venkatasawmy, 1996) Mad Max represented a tradition hero, a hero to whom many diverse cultures are able to relate, as a story of a lone hero is a story that goes back through centuries of storytelling, and as a consequence the film achieved colossal success within Australian and around the world. The Australian cultures and lifestyles shown throughout these films give Australians an understanding of their country in the landscape, the language, and the way we treat people, life and life in exceptional circumstances.
Reference Venkatasawmy, R. (1996), Australian Film in the Reading Room: The Hybridity of Film-making in Australian National Cinema: Formulating a Cinematic Post-Diaspora. Retrieved March 14, 2005, from http://wwwmcc.murdoch.edu.au/ReadingRoom/rama/CHAPT4.htm
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In spite of the fact that the 1981 film The Road Warriorthe second
influential cinematic work of writer/director George Miller's Dystopian
vision of the near future trilogyleads to receive the anti-hero Max,
released two years earlier, is where it all started
For it was here
that Miller first brought to the screen his hellish vision, where civil
society is under siege by crime and disorder, with the strength and
charisma of a new young, tough, good looking actor by the name of Mel
Gibson was just 23 years old when he took the role of Max Rockatanskya young hotshot cop so emotionally woundedand was such an unknown star that when the film was hitting the screens in the States, the preview trailers didn't even mentioned him but instead focused on the movie's coolest and most original car action ever filmed In retrospect, of course, Gibson's portrayal of a relentless vigilante is an essential element of the picture
In the Australian outback, Rockatansky is a motorcycle cop trying to keep order in a quickly disintegrating society Vicious lawless bikers and road-raging psychopaths race up and down the forbidden territories, raping and pillaging the peaceful towns, and one such bunch ends up at the door of Max's wife (Joanne Samuel), and their 2-year old son When they are both lying dead in middle of the road, Max is all driven over the edge, and so starts a high-speed pursuit involving wild rides, chilling fights, and memorable fast-motion suspenseful scenes rarely equaled in cinema
"Mad Max" is one of those films that is on everyone's top film lists.
Not only did it introduce us to Australian cinema, but also a young
21-year old newbie named Mel Gibson. "Mad Max" was dark, it was
brooding, it was destructive, and it never gave us that glimmer of hope
for humanity, but now - nearly 20 years later - does it still remain
the classic that it started? Sure, it was impressive to watch the crash
scenes, it was powerful to see the world through Mr. Miller's disturbed
eyes, but is it re-watchable? Does it have the appeal to see new things
throughout if watched and watched again? For me, the answer seemed to
float near "no". While I loved what "Mad Max" represented, what it was
- a full body of color and action - it wasn't something to be watched
again and again. Gibson does a great job as Max, a man torn between the
evils of the road and his personal philosophies. He begins as an
ominous optimist, able to stop crime as it occurs on the streets, but
then as his sense of normality is turned upside down, his ability to
react and adapt is seen. The final moments, he has transformed from the
man we were first introduced to into something quite terrifying. One
could also compliment Mr. Miller's directorial outing, at times it felt
a bit episodic with tough edits placed, but for the majority he told a
deathly story with great ease and excitement. So, again, there is no
arguing that "Mad Max" is an important film, one that I am glad to have
finally seen, but once was enough. It seems to be lacking that re-watch
But why has that conclusion been made? What makes "Mad Max" mediocre instead of powerful? It is hard to pinpoint the exact scene, but the sense of "alright, I've seen it - now what" was definitely present by the end. Yet, there were points that I just loved. Gibson was perfect. He was incredible as Max, and the world that Mr. Miller created was intense. The opening scene, the car crashes as our bearded villain just yelled "Toecutter" was fantastic. "Mad Max" has one of those openings that just pulls you in, that makes you excited to watch a film of this intensity, but then where do you go? Miller seemed to indicate that more car crashes, more violence, more cliché family drama would indicate a stronger film. At times he was right, his ability to create different scenes set across the same backdrop demonstrated his originality, but then there were times where it just felt recycled. One scene that stands out, is where our gang of bikers track down a couple that happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, they chase them down and demoralize them as Max and his partner find them - then, almost repetitively, it happens with Max and his girl later in the film. In this post-apocalyptic world, there seems to be no problem finding someone. Space seems to not be a problem. This was another unexplained moment - where the coincidence of discovering Max or finding the biker gang should have been more difficult. These repetitive, essentially simplistic scenes seemed to detract from the power of what Max represented. One also needs to ask about the story, the unknown of what time or place we are following Max - would this have strengthened the story knowing what world we lived in? The understanding that this was a low-budget film was rooted in my mind, the techniques provided were impressive, but should that have been neglected for mediocre storytelling? Perhaps I misread this film, perhaps I missed the joy of why this is hailed as such a cult success.
Another weakness against "Mad Max" has to be the relationship between his wife/girlfriend and child. Again, the lacking story helped confuse this viewer as to what dynamic they had, but when we have scenes in which the child is completely forgotten about - it just decimates the reasons behind Max's anger and utter breakdown. There were several scenes in which I yelled at the screen, "What about the child", then finally they would remember - he seemed to fade in and out of existence too often for one film. Then, when disaster strikes, we are forced to believe that suddenly Gibson would release his inner rage? It just didn't work. The same can be said for his wife/girlfriend. A stronger definition of character, and even more lines spoken would have helped me see the relationship. She seemed angry at first, the product of a failed marriage forced by this post-apocalyptic world to stay together, then we were introduced to love, then suddenly, she moved to idiocrity. Who would believe that running down a road, when there are open fields around, is the better option? It was these small inconsistencies that forced "Mad Max" from greatness to just another average action film. Two-plus hour sweeping epics aren't always needed, but stronger characters do help in creating the world that we, as viewers, are to inhabit for 90-ish minutes.
"Mad Max" is an important film, there is no question in my mind about that. The door that this film opened for future cinema in America couldn't have been done by a better group of filmmakers, but it isn't a promising classic. I could not watch this film again. The sequels I am ready for, but this ride is over - and the park is closing. I realize that I am in the minority, but "Mad Max" is a low-budget film that uses repetitive film-making as its staple - originality is present, but you must search to find it.
Not many low budget flicks age very well but Mad Max certainly has.
I watched it again recently, as I only had vague memories of watching it years ago, but I found it to hold up well. Only by reading the other user comments did I discover that it had been dubbed! What a load of crap. Why would a movie in English be dubbed in English! If you cant understand Aussie accents, you dont deserve the pleasure of seeing this movie. I cant imagine this movie having the same effect without the Australian accents.
What George Miller did with this fairly simple script is remakable. The camera angles and speeds with which this film moves along at times were thrilling, Not to mention the great stunts and even the barbaric humour (the ripped off arm!).
The car which Mel Gibson eventually gets revenge in (an Aussie Ford coupe) looked as menacing as a car could! built for the movie for A$35 Grand, a replica was used for the final crash 'n burn scenes of Mad Max 2. The original car was salvaged and is still around somewhere, appearing at car shows in the late 80's.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Australian movies have slowly gained in both quality and in popularity.
I had always heard good and big things about a very old Australian movie
known as 'Mad Max'. With a fascinating story, strange and wacky
a vast arrangement of high octane cars and motorbikes and starring a huge
Hollywood star, who was not so big when this film was made, 'Mad Max' is a
revelation of a movie. It also proves that a small budget will not hamper
what sort of movie you will see.
Max Rockatansky is a policeman in the near future who is tired of his job and wants out, so he can spend time with his wife and baby son. Since the apocalypse, the lengthy, desolate stretches of highway in the Australian outback have become bloodstained battlegrounds. Max has seen too many innocents and fellow officers murdered by the bomb's savage offspring, bestial marauding bikers for whom killing, rape, and looting is a way of life. Then Max's world is shattered as a gang led by the evil Toecutter murders his family in retaliation for the death of one of its members. Dead inside, Max climbs into a souped-up V-8 racing machine to seek a big and bloody revenge.
What is most impressive about this movie is the action and car stunts that are present in the movie for almost the entire 90 minutes. I mean seeing bikies fall, cars blow up, go through caravans, and the high octane V-8 that Max uses are all terrific. The main stunt co-ordinator of 'MM' was Grant Page, who did a fine job in brining through those ideas of the dangers on the road, in addition to the fine stunts, that were effective to the movie's final make-up.
However the writer/director of Mad Max, George Miller deserves just as much praise for bringing MM to our screens. Being his first feature film, he practised as a doctor to fund the film's finances, which just shows how tight a budget this movie was on. I enjoy the pace and feel of the movie that Miller presents to us in 'Mad Max', which I can only describe, as 'unsettling', but in a good and effective way. Miller went on to direct the next two Mad Max Movies.
The main star of MM is one of the more recognised Hollywood stars Mel Gibson. He was young in this movie, but it did not take away from his gritty performance. I am sure at the time that he played this character that two things were not going through his mind, that this would become a huge film franchise, and that Gibson himself would be a huge Hollywood actor. Gibson brings humanity to the film, which is set in a depressive future. I guess the only part of his character that I wanted to see more of, was Max being angry, which did happen, but took longer than I thought.
There are other good cast members in this nasty of movies. Jim Goose (Steve Bisley) is a crazy kind of cop, who pushes and does not like to be pushed. Some of the things that he does and has happen to him are quite remarkable. Bisley has had a successful career in Australia movies and TV, with such titles as the funny film 'The Big Steal', and being a part of Aussie TV shows like the medical drama 'G.P.', the media spoof 'frontline' and the top cop drama 'Water Rats'. Max's wife Jesse (Joanne Samuel) loves Max a lot and the movie clearly shows this through her performance. But again, what happens to her character is also hard to take.
This then leads me too the mean characters of the film. The bikie gang is led by the horrible Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne), whose performance in the movie is pretty good. I love his evil body language, especially his smirk that sent a chill through me many times in the film. All his bikie gang are not much better, with the Nightrider (Vincent Gil) an important member of the story. I like the actors that were in this gang, as they were all bad and nasty.
There are other aspects to the film that I liked. The use of the Australian setting was invaluable, as we get to see many different places along the Australian coast. But what brought out the scenery of the film were the unique camera angles that are seen throughout the entire movie. This has to be due to the good work of cinematographer David Eggby, who did many low camera angle shots, that I was really impressed by. Another important element that created great tension for the film was its musical score. It was in for the greater part of the movie and was extremely effective. The composer of MM was Brian May.
After I had seen Mad Max, I wanted to show this film to my father, as I believed it contained enough elements to keep him entertained, being a car enthusiast. By the time we had watched the movie together, I was amazed by how knowledgeable my father was on many of the movie's various aspects. I was just glad that he liked the movie, because I know that did. A friend and I also believe that this movie influenced the famous American TV show, Knight Rider. I only think this for two reasons. One, because there is a scene very similar in a Knight Rider episode, as there was in this movie, and two, because of the car that Max speeds around in at the end of the film, as it looks similar to the Trans Am used in the Knight Rider TV show. I am looking forward to seeing the two Mad Max sequels that been made, as they are widely popular movies. Also look out for the forth instalment of Mad Max, coming up next year.
CMRS gives 'Mad Max': 4.5 (Very Good - Brilliant Film)
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