Last week in anticipation for the release of Mad Max: Fury Road the fourth Mad Max film directed by George Miller, starring Tom Hardy as Max, Warner Brothers released The Complete Mel Gibson Mad Max Trilogy on Blu-ray. This great set featuring all 3 films encased in a custom tin features all of the films in their original Australian versions for the first time in the US in HD.
I am a huge fan of the series and the great folks over at Warner Brothers were nice enough to send me a copy to check out. This set will definitely give folks an easy way to catch up on the series when Fury Road comes out later this year, since the film is supposed to pick up right after the end of Thunderdome.
Here are my thoughts on the set:
Mad Max the rarely seen pre-cursor to The Road Warrior is pure low budget Ozploitation madness. In a near dystopian future where law and order have begun to fail, its up to the Main Force Patrol to keep the order. Enter officer Max Rockatansky (Yes, that is his real name.), who accidentally kills the leader of a nomad gang while in pursuit on a call.
Of course the gang wants retribution targeting Max, his fellow patrolmen and his family. The film invokes a Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and Vanishing Point vibe with some of its amazing car cinematography and stunt work. Mad Max is a great revenge flick and really sets the bar for the series going forward.
The disc on this one may say The Road Warrior, but the print on the disc is definitely Mad Max 2. The film was retitled in the US, due to the simple fact that most folks had never seen the original.
Mad Max 2 finds Max now post apocalypse, alone and wondering the desert wasteland after the events of the first film. Max happens upon a group of settlers trying to ward off a gang of marauders after their supply of gas. Being desperately in need of gas or “juice” as they call it himself, Max offers to help them en exchange for them refueling his Interceptor.
Of course things aren’t that easy, but things seldom are and the film culminates in a 13 minute car battle that set a new standard car chases in cinema. This film also brings in the elements most folks will recognize from the franchise: crazy custom vehicles, Mohawks, shoulder pads and a refinement of everything that worked in Mad Max.
Mad Max 2 is relentless from start to finish and is the entry that changes the character of Max from a simple cop, to the wandering samurai anti-hero he is best known for.
This is probably the best-known film of the series and a film I think exemplifies the 80s.
This entry has Max landing in the corrupt Barter Town run by none other than Tina Turner as Aunty. When Max is hired for an assassination in Thunderdome that goes wrong Max is cast out once again into the desert. A half dead Max is then found and taken in by a tribe of children living in an oasis, who believe he has been sent to take them to “Tomorrow-morrow Land.”
Max eventually tells the children the truth and that they are better off where they are, because of how evil the world has become. Still in disbelief a group of children set out for the outside world as Max tries to stop them before they end up in Barter Town.
This film was a great way to end the trilogy on a high note, as the kids Max is responsible for saving are the ones that eventually restart civilization.
All of the films are presented in their Australian versions, with the original audio intact on three 50GB Blu-ray discs. (Mad Max was originally dubbed when released in the US to make the film more accessible to American audiences) The transfers are beautiful on this set and range from a little rough with some damage on Mad Max to almost pristine on Beyond Thunderdome.
Don’t get me wrong the transfer on Mad Max is truly a thing to behold and I think some of the damage really gives the film character, because Mad Max was definitely more of a grindhouse film than a multiplex one.
The films also all sport amazing DTS-HD audio tracks, which should definitely be played as loud as humanly possible. While the mixes vary from the film to film they are all very consistently good.
Mad Max has the commentary with Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray and Tim Ridgeand and also the Mad Max: The film Phenomenon Documentary (25 mins) from the original MGM Special Edition DVD release. It’s missing the Mel Gibson Birth of a Superstar Documentary, but I think I can live without that.
Mad Max 2, sports a commentary with director George Miller and Dean Semier as well as an introduction by Leonard Maltin discussing in brief the history as to why the film was retitled The Road Warrior in the US.
The commentaries on both discs are very informative and shed a lot of light on the production of the films. For Mad Max it was great to hear just how little they had to work with and how they made is seem like so much more on screen.
As for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, this is actually the first time its been released on Blu-ray and the film comes only with a standard trailer. Sadly the film is missing the scenes deleted from the original Australian version to reduce the running time for international distribution.
If you’re a Mad Max fan or looking to catch up before the new film hits theatres, this set definitely belongs in your collection. I have personally been waiting for Thunderdome to get a Blu-ray release to pick up the other two and I was pleased that Warner gave the titles the respect they deserved.
The set goes for $34.99 on Amazon you really can’t beat it for the price. The films look amazing there are some great extras as well, so I definitely recommend picking this up!