George Miller's post-apocalyptic tale of a future of anarchists and law enforcers could just as easily be carried out on horseback as motorcycles and cars. The "rebuilding" of Australian civilization mirrors the classic western perfectly, with the bikers representing the cowboys and Max Rockatowski embodying the spirit of a down-under fuel-injected Wyatt Earp.
Max (Gibson) is an "Interceptor" for a ragged band of policemen who work the desolate highways of the Australian coast. When a high speed pursuit brings about the death of a gang leader called the Nightrider, his cohorts come to town, leaving a trail of bodies and destruction. When Max decides to call it quits to protect his family, he soon realizes (tragically) that the world is a safer place with him behind the wheel, and hunts down the bikers in a revenge fueled frenzy.
Mad Max was as influential a film as virtually any other, inspiring the post-apocalyptic look and feel of countless 80's rip-offs and dictating the way British motorbikers would dress for years to come (hehe). It was also butchered in its American release, with an awful American dub (back in 1979, the producers were not sure if an American audience would be able to relate to an action film voiced by Australians) that actually ruined a lot of the film for me. The voices fit for some parts (Gibson dubbed himself), but other characters came off completely ridiculous, and the film felt like a camp-fest. On this MGM disc, however, the original Australian track is restored and presented in 5.1 and it sounds terrific. No longer do we have to live with that gruff wrestler voice-over for Fifi McCafee or the flamboyantly gay sounding Toe Cutter. Instead, we hear the way these guys were meant to sound and it's good, damnit! With this audio track back in place, it's rather like watching the film for the first time, and makes for a huge difference.
The MGM Special Edition disc also features a ton of extras, including a very lively commentary track by the production team, two documentaries; one about Gibson, which offers a quick take on his rise to stardom, and one about the Mad Max franchise and its effect on film, as well as a trivia track, and some DVD ROM extras that no one will ever ever, ever use (please add more stuff for people who watch their discs on proper television sets). The image quality is fantastic and a quantum leap over the original Warner Home Video disc (which was a mess!) and for shits and giggles the "original" American dub is still presented so you can compare the two versions to see just how painfully silly Mad Max used to sound for American audiences!
Mad Max is a classic example of action cinema, and this DVD set does it justice. A commentary by Gibson and Miller would have been a nice touch, but then again it would be nice to have lollipop mountains and a sun made out of cheese, so no point in complaining about that.
If road rash and revenge are your thing, Mad Max is still the king.