Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Film.
Film (1981; vt The Road Warrior). Kennedy Miller Entertainment. Directed by George Miller. Written by Terry Hayes, Miller, Brian Hannant. Cast includes Mel Gibson, Emil Minty, Kjell Nilsson, Mike Preston and Bruce Spence. 96 minutes. Colour.
The success of the first film in this series, Mad Max (1979), generated a bigger budget for this, the second. It was well used, and this is a more sophisticated film, more purely sf than its predecessor. The oil wars have left a devastated Ruined Earth; petrol is a medium of exchange (see Money), and its conspicuous use – by burning it up on the roads – confers status. Ex-policeman Max Rockatansky (Gibson) gives reluctant assistance to a semicivilized group in a desert fortress or Keep. Possessing a valuable petrol supply, they are beleaguered by a tribe of marauders (who, in this Westerns replay, are effectively the Indians), designer-barbarians in fetishistic gear on motorbikes and vehicles of war. Made with poker-faced humour, and this time with the US prints allowed to retain Mel Gibson's Australian drawl, the film is enlivened by small details – for example the Feral Kid (Minty) with his razor-sharp metal boomerang – and has much to recommend it beyond the tautly directed scenes of vehicular warfare. Poignant use is made of memories when times were better. The name of the sleazy real-world coastal resort Surfer's Paradise is now only half-remembered, as "Paradise", and ironically the place becomes the Promised Land to which the civilized remnant (minus the loner, Max) finally treks. With all its comic-strip energy and vividness, this is exploitation cinema at its most inventive.
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