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Mad Max
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Mad Max More at IMDbPro »

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An Australian western that touches on several other genres whilst delivering a fast, frenetic and entertaining film.

Author: johnnyboyz from Hampshire, England
25 June 2008

Mad Max reminded me of a typical Hollywood western, little wonder then why it found such success in American and became the popular film that it is with its eventual third sequel being partly funded by America. But although I do not think there is too much substance to this first Mad Max film, it combines and updates so many typical conventions; realises its doing so and delivers it all in one satisfactory package that suffices in a department of a series of genres that it doesn't really matter.

The film feels like a western with its large, barren desert location and its masked riders resembling a posse as they cover this barren wasteland spreading fear and destruction. Mad Max represents the ultimate updating into a modern age, in terms of convention and genre. These masked riders do not ride horses but ride motorbikes; the film is somewhat needlessly set a few years into the future but adds to that science-fiction, 'updating' sort of atmosphere and the general feel you get during scenes is that you're watching something of a very post-modern type. At its heart, Mad Max is a revenge film but to say it is a revenge film spoils some of the films best scenes and reasons for character motivation. Mad Max, apart from being a western and a Cagney revenge film is a romance; a rural melodrama and an action film complete with shootouts and car chases.

Despite being set in the future, Max Rockatansky (Gibson) is a police ranger part of the law enforcement that deploy its officers with squad cars straight out of the 1970s. Max is given this hard-bodied and somewhat psychotic build up shot in close up format as he waits, like an animal further down the road, for his prey. His prey is The Nightrider but rather than targeting David Hasselhoff and his talking black car, he is after what we first presume to be a joy rider and his female partner who avoids and defeats the other police officers with ease. But after this introduction consisting of close ups of shades; the body; his car's revving exhaust and such, it is revealed Max is a more softer character – a family man who just wants to earn a living. So already Mad Max announces itself as a film that toys with what we think we identify as convention or formula and doesn't really let up from here.

The film develops from this opening scene more resembling the opening stunt to a James Bond flick than anything else into a menacing and eerie series of scenes revolving the biker gang's want for revenge. It appears this Nightrider was connected to this posse and now Max is in trouble. But this is where Mad Max focuses on atmosphere more than it does narrative or developing the characters, something that with hindsight we can all say Hollywood do nowadays predominantly with all their summer releases and sequels. With all this emphasis on the family man that is Max, the threat that the biker gang carries is rather menacing on more than one occasion and the director does do well in getting across the correct feelings we as an audience are supposed to experience.

Then there are the things that you don't expect to see in the film but are included anyway. There is a scene in which the biker gang hang out on a beach. It's been established they resemble a gang of outlaws in a typical classical Hollywood western but their transport are not horses, they're motorbikes; their choice of weapon are not Colt pistols but German Mauser pistols and pump-action shotguns and to add a further post-modern touch, they take pop-shots at a mannequin dummy for entertainment. But Max's time spent with wife Jesse (Samuel) on a farm owes more to rural melodramas of old and Max's cause and effect revenge sequence much later on in the film is played out with brutal pacing in a barrage of scenes in which some parts inside of you will want to cheer during. This sequence is the part of the film in which you feel the most is achieved, the most in which is accomplished. Away from the romance; the slow burning of the evil biker gang creating a threatening presence and the gradual destruction of Max's life involving friends and family, Mad Max's final third of revenge sees caution thrown to the wind in an entertaining and worthwhile sequence of events, culminating in a memorable scene in which an enemy character is given a choice of life or death.

Although the film looks patchy in its editing and the low budget does show, I don't think it detracts from the overall delivery of the film. Mad Max covers an array of genres and includes a great deal of action, menace and odd humour with close-ups of the eyes just as certain people meet their demise behind the steering wheel. People may watch it now for the chance to see where it all began for Mel Gibson, but Mad Max is an entertaining foray in Australian cinema and suffices for more Americanised audiences now purely for its genre-fusion and emphasis on its everyday, upstanding hero.

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Excellent Action Flick, if a little cheesy at times

Author: deneen0 from United States
7 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes this movie is good and yes it has some cheesy love scenes, but that only adds to the story which is vital to the movie. The movie takes place during a time of anarchy and the small fraction of civilization still trying to hang on. Max Rockatansky is part of the Main Force Patrol, the only thing standing between civilization and total chaos. This movie has some of the coolest chase scenes which are only outdone by its sequel "The Road Warrior". Surprisingly, there isn't so much gun play as there is vehicle carnage (but the scene where Max blasts Bubba with the shotgun is awesome). The story is good and the action scenes are well done for a movie at this time. Overall, the movie is fun to watch and it is a good setup to Mad Max 2.

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set the stage for many imitators to come

Author: disdressed12 from Canada
26 April 2008

for a low budget Australian film,this movie is quite good.the action never lets up.the story is interesting,and the musical score is brilliant.this is the first of three Mad max movies,the second being the Road Warrior,and the third and final one being Beyond Thunderdome.this movie inspired a lot of movies to come,some good,some mot so was also inspired by a few film before it.depicts an Australia of the future,a bleak time over run by vicious biker gangs,and general lawlessness.enter"Mad" Max Rockatansky,(Mel Gibson),police officer,and the only brave enough to take on the criminal element.for me,this is a very good film.i give Mad Max a 9/10

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One of the Best Revenge Films Ever Made

Author: Scars_Remain from United States
9 February 2008

If revenge is a sub-genre, it's my favorite one. This is definitely one of the best revenge flicks I've ever seen and also one of the most enjoyable films in general. I think it's definitely an underrated film that deserves more recognition because of how it basically shaped the whole post-apocalyptic genre. This is one that I'm sad I didn't see sooner.

This may be my favorite performance from Mel Gibson, he does such a fantastic job. The story is pretty simple but a revenge plot doesn't have any need to be complex. It's very obvious that a lot of films today have taken inspiration from Mad Max, and if you see it, you'll know what I'm talking about.

If you're a junkie for revenge films like I am, you owe it to yourself to see this amazing depiction. Just sit back and enjoy it for a what it is. A true film classic!

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"They say people don't believe in heroes anymore. Well, damn them! You and me, Max, we're gonna give 'em back their heroes!"

Author: ackstasis from Australia
19 January 2008

As an Australian, it was almost blasphemy for me to have never seen George Miller's 'Mad Max (1979),' a low-budget post-apocalyptic action film that proved an enormous overseas hit, spawning two sequels and making a star out of Mel Gibson. However, I finally got around to it, and, though the local film is certainly not a masterpiece, it is immediately clear why it achieved such monumental success, a rip-roaring jumble of fast cars, slick editing and jaw-dropping explosions. Unmistakably Australian, and frequently very funny {especially when a young-looking Steve Bisley occupies the screen}, 'Mad Max' is fast, mean and exciting – a wacky and testosterone-charged ninety minutes of pure entertainment. Back in 1979, out of fear that audiences might not understand the Australian accents, the American studios unthinkably distributed a redubbed version, though the original cut has since become the preferred release for the bulk of fans; to take away the local accents would be to rob the film of its distinct personality.

In a bleak, dystopian future, the highways of the Australian outback are ruled by roguish gangs of motorcycle riders, who travel from town to town, stealing, raping and killing as they go. The citizens' only defence against these criminals is a respected, but poorly-funded, unit known as Main Force Patrol (MFP), comprised of courageous law-enforcement officers in V8 sedans. The most esteemed member of the MFP is young Max Rockatansky (Gibson), a determined family-man with a special skill in bringing down bikers. Shot on a modest budget of A$400,000 {and going on to make around $100 million at the box-office}, 'Mad Max' was also the first Australian picture to be filmed with a widescreen anamorphic lens. George Miller's direction seems somewhat shaky in the film's less adrenaline-charged sequences, with Brian May's original soundtrack, though distinctive, having a tendency to over-dramatise otherwise unexciting scenes. However, if you're going to watch this film, then it is for the extensive chase sequences, which are absolutely incredible, the camera weaving across the barren desert roads with a sort of gritty gracefulness.

A film like 'Mad Max' requires a terrible, loathsome villain, which is where, I think, Miller's film goes completely astray. Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the leader of the biker gang, rather than inciting terror or hatred, was merely a cartoonish caricature, and he spoke as though he had just emerged from the Bible. However, the strength of the hero, played with bravura by a young Mel Gibson, almost compensates for this misstep, and Steve Bisley's wise-cracking sidekick is the icing on the cake. If there's one advantage to watching a local film, it's being able to recognise the filming locations {I'm not far from Hanging Rock, for example}. Apparently, one of this film's most explosive scenes was shot just a 15 minutes' drive from where I live, and I'm just waiting for a good day to head down there and see for myself.

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Finally Got the DVD

Author: Stephen Bierce (FPilot) from Knoxville, TN
23 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Got the DVD and got around to seeing it overnight. I'll probably see it again sometime very soon too. But I have to say this first: The audio track is really messed up. The dialog is recorded too soft and the sound effects and music are too loud. This frustrated my father with him perpetually resetting the volume on our TV set while trying to follow the speeches. The sound probably worked better in theaters, but for a home system it doesn't work well at all. I know the filmmakers probably didn't have a choice. I guess when I watch it again, I'll put the closed captioning on.

So as not to repeat (or dispute) anything said by others up to now, a few thoughts of my own: I saw "The Cars That Ate Paris" last year on cable, and I'm thinking of it now as a kind of prelude to "Mad Max", if not an actual prequel. You see, in "Cars" you have a societal breakdown of the kind that could produce a world like "Mad Max"'s. The same goes for Roger Corman's dark comedy "Gas-s-s-s"...but "Cars That Ate Paris" is a better match. Heck, in "Cars" you even have a similar story about a man wrestling with issues of conscience and madness in the face of psychological trauma, in addition to the vehicular violence.

Perspective for the times...going into the end of the Seventies, you had Hal Needham's stunt spectacle movies like "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Hooper" in theaters...and I bet George Miller saw them and got ideas from them in making "Mad Max". And then there was Corman and his multitude of biker gang movies and "Death Race 2000".

I'm not saying Miller wasn't an innovator...he certainly was. His use of camera angles in "Mad Max" is particularly striking. "Mad Max" didn't start a trend so much as it took existing trends, merged them, and threw them into a new direction that is still influential some 25 years later.

One of the posters included in the DVD gallery called "Mad Max" "The 'Easy Rider' of the Eighties"...and that was a good description of its stature, at least. In my video collection, I have at least three "Mad Max"/"Road Warrior" imitators that I can think of. I suppose the thinking of the age was if George Miller could do what he did with such a small budget, why not somebody else? And of course, they all failed...because they matched the style but not the substance.

Somebody at my alma mater High School had a souped-up black Mustang fastback with the slogan "Mad Max" on the windshield.

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See it on DVD

Author: MTree
8 January 2002

Like most people in the US, I had only seen this movie with the dubbed soundtrack. The DVD restores the original sound, and it makes a huge difference. The "old" version seems somewhat cheesy in that the voices are all overdone, like a bad kung fu movie. This version seems completely natural and makes the film seemless.

The picture quality is also first rate on the DVD. Director Miller makes great use of widescreen and those spectacular car crashes come across better than ever. If you've only seen this on TV or an old VHS rental, you should see it again. It's a whole different movie.

I would have given the old version a 6. The new one gets a 8.

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Revenge fantasy and it's well done

Author: Zach James ( from Ohio
6 January 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(contains spoilers) Mad Max is the ultimate revenge fantasy, just look at the title. The film is well written and has a great storyline. It does an excellent job of portraying a post apocalyptic world where chaos rules. Take the first scene for example, when you see the road sign that keeps track of the number of deaths on that particular highway. That alone tells you that this is not a fairy tale.

I love the characters in this film and the action scenes and chase scenes. They make this film a classic. Take the first action sequence for example, when all of the patrolmen are chasing the Nightrider and Max is still working on his engine. Then everybody gets crashed out and Max is the only one left who has a chance to get him. He gets in his car and takes his sweet time getting the car up to speed, and you know he's going to take care of Nightrider. Then of all things, Max decides he wants to quit his job because he is afraid of turning crazy like the thugs he gets paid to chase. Then in an ironic twist, the thugs end up running his wife and child down on their motorcycles. Now Max has lost everything and becomes consumed with vengeance. He decides to return to his earlier ways and hunt down every single one of the thugs who killed his family. The movie has some excellent plot building here, like when the Toecutter comes out of the mechanic shop and finds pictures of Max's family in his bike helmet. That alone tells you he's in for it. Then there are some awesome chase scenes which were very well done and Max gets his revenge. Then the movie ends on a hopeless and depressing note which is what revenge is all about. A masterpiece of a film which is now a classic. Also take into consideration that this is over 20 years old and was done on a low budget. It's the ultimate revenge fantasy played out with motorcycles and hotrods. Classic.

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"I'll see you on the road, Scag"!

Author: cloudburst from Melbourne, Australia
17 December 2001

Mad Max is one of those rare films where a young director just lets rip, regardless of budget constraints, and creates something special.

There's something George Miller captures about cars and their sounds, like the beautiful gurgle of a big block V8. I've never felt a vehicles collision quite as much as in a Mad Max film. Go on, compare it to watching a huge CG explosion in some other contest. This is also the film where I most appreciate Editors and what they do...simply superb. I still get goosebumps watching the opening chase scene.

I would love to hear the US version, just for a laugh, as I've only ever seen the original. This was also one of the first Aussie films that really showed we could make these kinds of films, and make them well, Razorback notwithstanding. It's too bad we stopped there with this trilogy, although there are signs of promise now. PROMISE = Exclusion of dysfunctional families populated by oddball characters.

Miller utilizes his TODD-AO photography extremely well in conjunction with the south australian setting, having all the mysticism and desolation he wants on tap. The sound in this is an absolute ripsnorter as well. Hugh Keays-Byrne is at his wackiest (as in TV's "Secret Valley","Stone") as The Toecutter, and Vince Gil is memorable as the Nightrider. Note - the Brian May who did the score isn't in Queen....sorry, different guy.

Mad Max is a kinetically charged, eye popping(heh) visual feast whereby the only bluescreen used by the stuntmen was the open sky above them. They really don't make 'em like this anymore.

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A small wonder

Author: LewisJForce ( from Wolverhampton, England
12 October 2001

In it's own small, eerie way, 'Mad Max' feels like an almost perfect film to me. Owing a lot, both in terms of perspective and flavour, to Sergio Leone's 'Dollar' trilogy of revisionist westerns, the film foregrounds its formal elements (editing, photography and mise-en-scene) over 'classic', recycled plot templates in order to create it's own stark mythology.

Like Leone, writer/Director George Miller is far more interested in his picture's stylistic organisation than any thematic or character development. But as with the Italian maestro, this actually serves to bolster his vision rather than detract from it. The piece is a near masterpiece of Eisensteinian montage in its chases.

Brian May's thundering orchestral score deserves special credit. Verging on parody in its overstatement, and often mixed higher than any dialogue, it perfectly complements Miller's approach.

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