Monday, May 18, 2015

MR Mad Max 2

In the roar of an engine, he lost everything... and became a shell of a man...

And it was here in the the wasteland, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again...

I remember a time of chaos. But most of all I remember the Road Warrior, the man we called Max...

Movie: Mad Max 2 also known as Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior or simply The Road Warrior in the US 
Directed by George Miller
Release date 1981
Genre Post-apocalyptic action film/Western
Country Australia

Following the huge success of the original Mad Max in 1979, a second episode was quickly put in place.

Thanks to that first film, George Miller was receiving a lot of offers from Hollywood. They even asked him to direct First Blood! But Miller didn't take any of those projects, all he wanted was to get back to Mad Max.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior was released in December 1981. This first sequel was renamed to simply titled The Road Warrior in the US, to distance itself from that little independent Australian film the mainstream audience wouldn't know about.

In my eyes it doesn't really affect the film. Just like Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, from the original Evil Dead to Army of Darkness, the Mad Max series shares a very loose continuity. Not only does details get changed from a film to the next, but the genre of each instalment is also quite different between episodes.

Mel Gibson was back reprising the role that launched his career as Max Rockatansky. The film also features Michael Preston, Kjell Nilsson as Mad Max 2's iconic villain Lord Humungus whom we never see the face of, and Virginia Hey in this great memorable role of the lead female warrior. Amongst other notable characters is also the great Bruce Spence as the "Gyro Captain", a great humorous addition that acts like a parody of a war survivor. And finally Emil Minty as the Feral Kid. (And the voiceover narration provided by Harold Baigent!)

The film takes place a couple of years after the original Mad Max.

A lot of time has passed since this huge catastrophe that ravaged the entire world. War erupted between two big nations. A crisis over the diminishing oil supplies.

We find Max, our Ex-Main Force Patrol, now roaming the deserted wasteland aboard his very own  black V-8 Pursuit Special, scavenging for food, water and gas. Is only companion is this lil' dog he saved. His weapon of choice, a sawn-off shotgun. But there's very scarce ammunitions left around...

After facing a crazy gang of bikers, Max locates this abandoned old school gyroplane.. Obiously a trap, but he really needs the supplies. That's when this Gyro Captain catches him off-guard. Max is able to get the best of him and forces the guy to guide him to a nearby place with a lot more ammo and oil. A lone closed down refinery where a community settled inside, currently under siege by these Marauders led by this giant Lord Humungus. Humungus wants them to surrender the facility, or else...

Max comes to the rescue of a wounded survivor. He asks him for a tank of fuel in exchange to bring him back into the camp located in the refinery. Suddenly, the Marauders come back! This Feral Kid tries to help the survivor camp.

Max will help the folk retrieve a truck if they fill the tank of his vehicle. He locates the truck. But he's forced to go trough the Marauders' camp. They kill his dog... The Gyro Captain brings Max back to the refinery. With no means of escape, they attempt one last escape. Max drives the now repaired truck. Ensues a huge finale pursuit which is a ruse to allow the remaining inhabitants to flee the facility...

We later find out the whole story has been narrated by the Feral Kid decades later. He's now the leader of his own tribe. And the legend of the "Road Warrior" is now but a distant memory...

Where the first film was a sort of dystopian take on a Revenge film, this second episode takes the form of a more typical "Western" frontier film set in a post-apocalyptic world. With Max as the role of the outside wanderer that is forced to make a stand for these folks.

The film brings a new light to Max' backstory, the events of the original film.

With Mad Max 2, our hero Max became an icon of the genre. It's also the film that introduced this American-born actor Mel Gibson to the whole wide world.

The film uses some fantastic practical effects and clever sequences of car chases, easily some of the best ever put on film. Showing the entire world Australia was just as able to even challenge Hollywood at the time in the action film genre!

Vehicles have just as big a presence as Max himself in this film. From the Marauders' home-made modified gear to combat on the last remaining highways to the various other cars, bike and trucks. With cars here simply taking the role of horses and carriages from western flicks. Max V8 Interceptor is an iconic piece of movie history, a modified Ford Falcon XB GT coupe. A customized "Pursuit Special" car that survived the first film and goes through a lot in the film (and even gets blown up before the end, but don't worry, just like Ash Williams' Oldsmobile Delta 88, it will always find a way to come back in later films). Max himself booby trapped his car to protect it from thieves, as would be the custom in this new world.

No surprise there, Mad Max 2 would be received to a great acclaim at the time. And it's legacy can still be seen to this day. Thanks notably to a gorgeous cinematography, Australia providing such beautiful natural landscapes that do a great service to the story.

Mad Max 2's post-apocalyptic/punk style would have a great impact on the genre, defining decades worth of material. The aesthetic of the film were truly unique at the time. The fantastic unique design was so impressive. It would go on to the define the entire post-apocalyptic genre, from the mohawks the punks sport in the film to the leather gear used by thugs and bikers. It gave life to a huge new view on dystopian post-apocalyptic world-building.

And it's this vision of a post-nuclear-holocaust world that is still the inspiration behind countless fiction nowadays. From video games like the Fallout series, the Borderlands games, id Software's Rage, or huge worldwide-popular manga/anime series like Tetsuo Hara's Hokuto no Ken/Fist of the North Star and many more. This last one drawing a lot of details and elements directly from Mad Max 2 such as the main hero's appearance to Virginia Hey's look as the Warrior Woman.

Max was now more of a Man With No Name figure. The film uses very limited amount of dialogue, Mel Gibson himself only has about 15 lines of dialogue in the entire film! (including his famous "I only came for the gasoline." line) 

Max Max 2 is a real reimagined western. Compared to the first film it had a much better rythm, fast paced and brutal. A more iconic bad guy. If there's only one Mad Max you should watch, it's this one!

The film easily stands by itself, you're not required to watch the original to completely embrace this over-the-top crazy world!

On music, Brian May returned a second time to score George Miller's epic. He composed such a great fantastic score, taking the tone of the first Mad Max to more grandeur, closer to old Western music but playing it through deeper instruments. It's bigger, and give the film a much better bigger sense of scale.

Overall, Mad Max 2 is easily one if not The best action film of all time! Highly Recommended for any fan of good movies and action films done right. Max takes now the role of more of a lone wolf, Road Warrior offers some of the greatest chase stunts ever captured on film.

I find the film only improves with age. It's really that great. Following a captivating if modest first Mad Max, Miller was back now with a much bigger budget and he could finally afford to make the film he always wanted to make.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior would receive and win numerous nominations. It was a huge success back then. And it's now a cult film that established a well-beloved franchise in its own right.

The film had such a huge impression, it went on defining the entire post-apocalyptic genre, a very unique view of this post-war post-nuclear desolated wasteland. Which whom the closest most faithful recreation in my eyes is probably id Software's world of Rage, highly inspired by second (and third) film. A unique aesthatitc and tone that had a tremendous lasting influence on apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.

Mad Max 2 was a huge success. The Mad Max series became a well-established franchise. It would generate all kinds of books, comics, video games and merchandising over the decades. There was a first 1990 Nes game based on this instalment, a pseudo-adaptation on 16-bit systems under the title Outlander, as well as a highly-awaited new game scheduled for this year for PS4, Xbox One and PC by Just Cause Avalanche Studios.

The Road Warrior would be followed by a much more typical Hollywood blockbuster sequel titled Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, co-directed by George Ogilvie. George Miller originally intended to end Max' story with Mad Max 2, but he then started working on a post-apocalyptic "Lord of the Flies" film about a tribe of children living in the wild, found by adult. This would soon be adapted into the third episode of the series...

I give it:
3 / 3 VaultBoys!

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