Peter’s Retro Movie Review: The Road Warrior (1982)

December 10, 2012

Mad Max 2 (1982) movie posterby Peter Nielsen

First off, let me say that, yes… I realize that this movie might not be all that “forgotten” and when the next chapter in Max Rockatansky’s life, Mad Max: Fury Road, is finally released it might get another stint in the spotlight. Hell, they all might! So, why did I choose this flick to review this week? For two simple reasons! One… it’s friggin’ AWESOME and two… I-LOVE-THIS-MOVIE!

We were 14 years old when The Road Warrior was released here in Sweden. We watched it in our local theater and I remember being completely blown away because we’d never seen anything quite like this before. The action and stunt scenes are absolutely outstanding and the sheer scope of it is amazing. At the time it was the most expensive movie ever made in Australia and I read somewhere that 70 or 80 vehicles were used and sometimes many of them in the same scene.

Max-ican stand-off!

Max-ican stand-off!

There’s one breathtaking shot where Max and the Gyro Captain are watching the compound from above on a nearby hill and Lord Humungus’ marauders are swarming around it. There are vehicles going in all directions.

I imagine directing such a shot is not the easiest task in the world, but the director, George Miller, did a great job with it. He’s responsible for all of the Mad Max movies so far and yes… He’s also the director of the upcoming installment, Mad Max: Fury Road.

While watching the action-packed The Road Warrior it’s kind of cool to think that Miller is the same director who made Babe, and Babe: Pig in the City and The Witches of Eastwick. He’s even responsible for the two animated features Happy Feet 1 & 2.

The Road Warrior is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the most valuable asset is gasoline. It’s used to keep the different vehicles running, so you can keep driving around… looking for more fuel… to keep the vehicles running… It’s kind of a pointless existence but that’s how Max, for instance, lives his life now. He’s played by a very young Mel Gibson (Gallipoli, Lethal Weapon).

The Feral Kid

The Feral Kid

Max is a loner who’s not very good at socializing with other people and in this second movie you can actually see small signs that his mind has snapped a little. Not surprising really, considering what happened in the first one and also due to the life he’s been living lately. He meets the Gyro Captain who’s played by Bruce Spence known from Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome and Dark City.

The Captain shows Max where he can find as much fuel as he could possibly want and that’s the compound I mentioned earlier. They have their own pump and refinery which makes this the primary target for the road-vermin led by Lord Humungus. He’s played by the Swedish-born Kjell Nilsson and is a striking figure with his bulging muscles and fear-inducing mask!

Two other memorable characters from this movie are the psycho Wez, played by Vernon Wells (Weird Science, Commando) and the Feral Kid with the boomerang. He’s played by Emil Minty, who nowadays runs a successful jewelry store and has done so for more than 20 years.

Taking aim!

Taking aim!

The people, living in the compound has finally had enough and wants to leave. They want to go to a place where there is no more violence and where they can finally live in peace. But that place is 2000 miles away, so they need to bring a lot of fuel with them and this is where Max comes in. They have a large tanker-trailer and Max knows where to find a truck that’s big enough to pull it.

In return he just wants all the fuel his car can hold. He gets the truck and leaves the compound, thinking that’s the end of it. The marauders catch up with him and it ends very badly and Max is left for dead on the side of the road. This makes it personal and that’s why Max volunteers to drive the tanker, when the compound is breaking up to leave. He’s got a score to settle… or maybe his humanity is starting to return.

Yeah sure... like YOU wouldn't be afraid of Wez!

Yeah sure… like YOU wouldn’t be afraid of Wez!

I’ll leave you with the opening narration. This is the best opening ever to a movie and every time I hear it, I get goose-bumps and have to watch it…

“My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams! This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called “Max”. To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time, when the world was powered by the black fuel. And the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now, swept away.

For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting! A firestorm of fear!

Men began to feed on men.

On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like Max. The warrior Max. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything and became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man. A man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place that he learned to live again…”

Until next time, my friends… why not tell me what you think of The Road Warrior?

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