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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Australia > Western > Mad Max Trilogy: Mad Max (1979)/Mad Max 2 – Road Warrior (1981)/Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome (1985/Warner Bros Blu-ray Tin Box Set)

Mad Max Trilogy: Mad Max (1979)/Mad Max 2 – Road Warrior (1981)/Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome (1985/Warner Bros Blu-ray Tin Box Set)


Picture: B-/B/B     Sound: B     Extras: C     Films: B/B+/B-


Remember when Mel Gibson was paid to be a crazy outlaw, rather than just being a crazy outlaw?  I do.  Mad Max Trilogy is now available on Blu-ray in beautiful High Definition, looking better than it ever has on home video.  The Trilogy has all the great content with picture and sound ramped up to the next level.


Mad Max


The film takes place in a world on the brink of complete ruin as fossil fuels have been nearly depleted and civil society and structure hangs on by a thread.  The backdrop for Mad Max is the Australian Outback where law and order matter little and gun wielding, gas guzzling power mongers have taken over.


Films like Blade Runner, Escape from New York and Mad Max in the 1980’s focused on this dystopian structure, in which society as we know is obliterated due to humans living too high on the hog for too long.  Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is an officer for Main Force Patrol; a task force who sets out to take down the criminal element and Max is amongst the best.  Dressed in all black in a super powered Ford Falcon XB GT Max seeks out a motorcycle gang who attacked his wife (Joanne Samuel); looking to destroy every last one of them.  Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is the leader of the gang, who almost nonsensically hate anything on 4 wheels.  The showdown between Max and the gang is fantastically violent and fast paced.


It would be easy to dismiss George Miller’s Mad Max as a car obsessed, action film but it demonstrates a deeper understanding of societal decay.  Miller creates a hybrid film that focuses on an insecure, ambiguous future, revenge, and societies’ misuse/reliance on fossil fuels; all of this held together in an action packed shell.  We previous covered this Blu-ray as a stand-alone release at this link:




Mad Max 2 – Road Warrior


After the breakout success of the first film, a sequel was a no brainer.  George Miller’s second go at Mad Max has Max return with a vengeance.  We see that the loss of his family has changed him forever; once a cool, precise officer for the Main Force Patrol is now a callous, cold warrior hunting down criminal gangs on his own terms.


Max combs the Australian desert at first without true purpose or direction, doing whatever it takes along the way to survive.  We are introduced to a small group of settlers who have preserved the last functional oil refinery; but are plagued by the threat of The Humungus (a captivating Darth Vader like leader played by Kjell Nilsson) and his marauders.  Mad Max joins the settlers in their plight North (with their gasoline) as they battle it out with The Humungus.


The first Mad Max felt like a Western, but Road Warrior REALLY feels like a Western as the disenchanted/vengeful Max (again, Mel Gibson) reluctantly helps the settlers; taking his place as ‘sheriff.’ 


I like Road Warrior slightly better than the first film as Miller had time to refine his craft, making the second go around grittier, more detailed, and well defined.  An excellent action film that has stood the test of time, not feeling overly dated.


Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome


Though not insanely horrible (like many third installments are), Thunderdome lacks the charm of the first two films, feels rushed, and is more of a ‘big Hollywood’ production than the first two.  By no means a ‘cash grab’ and has grown to be a cult classic, Thunderdome expands the Mad Max universe to show that the world is not merely scavengers and outlaws.  Instead, Thunderdome introduces us to Bartertown a society attempting to reestablish order and regain pleasures of the past.  Bartertown is headed by the matriarch Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) and Master (Angelo Rossitto) who struggle to accept each others’ societal views.  Master has derived a manner in which to transform extract (usable)  methane gas from pig feces; giving his society a glimmer of hope.  Hope seems to be the overwhelming theme of this film as we see an older generation lust for the past and the children gasp in awe at tales of times gone by before the apocalypse.


Max (still Mel Gibson) continues to hit hard times as he has been traveling through the desert and recently robbed of all possessions.  He is thrust into the arena known as the Thunderdome and it is his chance again to be our unwitting/unwilling anti-hero.


Technical Features


The Mad Max Trilogy comes housed in a nice tin case to hold the 3 disc Blu-ray collection.  All three films are presented in a 2.40 X 1, 1080p AVC Encoded/MPEG-4 that look generally well done/preserved, though some heavier wear to Mad Max than the two sequels.  Mad Max is a bit rough around the edges, not as clean, demonstrating muted colors when compared to the two other films HD transfers.  Road Warrior and Thunderdome have solid colors, fine detail/texture, and deep black levels.  The audio on all three films are about the same, being adequate but far from what I was expecting from such action packed, explosive films.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes on all three films have its highs and lows as music and ambience shines, but dialogue is weak and unbalanced.  I felt like all three films had wonderful atmosphere as all speakers are utilized, but never the less unbalanced.  This is the first time Road Warrior has been available in lossless sound versus the lossy Dolby Digital on the old Blu-ray and lossy Dolby Digital Plus on the discontinued HD-DVD, reviewed elsewhere on this site.


Extras are all standard definition and ported over from the previous DVD releases.  Extras include:


Mad Max

·         Audio Commentary

·         Mad Max: Film Phenomenon Featurette

·         Trailer

Road Warrior

·         Audio Commentary

·         Trailer

·         Introduction


·         Trailer

Note that the Tina Turner Music Videos for her soundtrack songs “One Of The Living” and “We Don’t Need Another Hero” are not included.


A nice set, but I suspect an even better remastering of the films (especially the first) is on the horizon.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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