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Mad Max (1979)
Mad Max - bloody, violent - a load of fun
One of the best revenge films ever made, imho. Wild and woolly rural Australia ruled by free-range biker gangs barely kept in check by a woefully understaffed police force - Main Force Patrol.
This film appears to the casual viewer as merely a bunch of car chases and horrifying deaths strung together by scenes of poorly edited dialogue - particularly those that have only seen the 'Americanized' dubbing of the original Australian dialogue track.
While the car chases are impressive (not quite so much as the 'Road Warrior/Mad Max II) in and of themselves, and the deaths in the film are pretty gruesome in most cases, it's the psychology of the characters in the film that strikes me. The deviance of the motorcycle gangsters, the passivity of the townspeople they meet, the blind-eyed amorality of the mechanic and the unrestrained hedonism of Goose (Max's best friend) all are worthy of study. More developed and glaring is the tired resignation of most of the members of MFP - for the most part a group of burnt-out, overworked cops that have had all sense of idealism stripped from them in a crucible of bureaucracy, judicial corruption and wide-spread anarchy they have no power to control.
In the midst of this mess is Max - something of a knight-errant surrounded by chaos, trying to keep his integrity and character intact while trying to shield his family from the awful truth of his day-to-day worklife. Early in the film a glimpse is seen of what he fears most - that he himself is little better than the scum he battles daily. It is my opinion that makes his later descent to their level truly tragic.
I truly recommend this film, particularly if you can watch it with the original Australian soundtrack. For some reason, the version released and most commonly seen in the US was overdubbed with American actors' voices. While the meat of the picture is present in this version, I feel it warrants, at best, a 6 of 10 rating. However, the original version, with Mel Gibson and the rest of casts' own voices is definitely a cut above. The added layers of subtlety in this version makes it almost like watching a completely different film, hence the 8 or 10 rating given above. If possible, watch it multiple times. I've seen it nearly 20 times, including both versions, and still find something new with every viewing.