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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Netflix Nonsense - Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior)

Well, as I said last time, with most folks I know being very much in love with Mad Max: Fury Road right now, I realized that my lack of having seen any of the Mad Max films is one of the more serious gaps in my personal film history.  Lucky for me, I discovered that they're all on Shomi.  We're continuing through the franchise with Mad Max 2, known to some as The Road Warrior, but I think many now call it Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

So what is with all the titles?  Well, as I said last time, the first film barely got released in North America, and was thus mostly overlooked.  So, the American distributors figured there was no point in releasing a film called Mad Max 2 if no one saw Mad Max 1.  So, they re-titled it The Road Warrior.  Since the whole trend these days is to drop numbers and just slap on the subtitle, maybe we should start calling it Mad Max: The Road Warrior.  Just a thought.

But THIS is the film that truly established Mad Max as a franchise, and made the character a household name.  It's influence on sci-fi and fantasy is still felt to this very day.  This established the general post-apocalyptic setting as being a dry, dusty desert, filled with biker gangs who scavenged their clothes from S&M shops.  This gave us the big, leather shoulder pads and Mohawks that many now associate with "collapse of society" films.  I've got a co-worker who participates in LARPS, and he once got his Mad Max-style shoulder pads made out of old tires for a post-apocalyptic campaign delivered to the office.  Spent the rest of the day strutting around the station wearing them and growing like a chihuahua.  I love my job, but I digress. 

It's an unknown amount of time after the first film.  Society has finished collapsing.  Survivors roam the land, scavenging for whatever they need to survive.  And still roaming the highways is Max.  He's running low on fuel, and looking to find some more.  He runs into a pilot with an old auto-gyro who directs Max to a town.  This town has a still-in-production oil well, and they've built a little refinery around it to process it into gasoline.  Thing is, this town is under almost-daily siege by a biker gang, led by Lord Humungous, who wants the gasoline for themselves.  The settlers have a desperate plan to load up all the gasoline they can on an old tanker truck and hightail it to a better life on the coast, but they can't get passed the gang.  But then, Max shows up, and with a new player in the game, things finally look possible. 

This film really does feel like a Western.  With the town under siege, and an expert warrior showing up to help out, who've got the whole Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven vibe going for it.  There's also a touch of Star Wars, as Max is portrayed as very Han Solo-like...only here for his own self-interests, but soon gets caught up in the greater good and helps out anyway. 

The characters are also quite notable, as we see that Max isn't the only one who's been driven mad in this world.  There's a young boy who's gone feral, and Max soon starts looking to him as a surrogate son.  The auto-gyro pilot just never stops talking.  And of course, Lord Humungous, who never takes off his hockey mask, but is quite elloquent.  And there's his chief henchman Wez.  THIS is the guy.  He's the Mohawk and big-leather-shoulder pads wearing guy that everyone associates with these films now.  He's nothing but rage and muscle in assless chaps.  Seriously.  He wears assless chaps. 

And of course, the car chases.  It opens with a big one, there's a couple in the middle, and the climactic race to freedom at the end has become the stuff of legend.  Just a great, old-school car chase.

When all is said and done, Mad Max 2 is just a fun, fast-paced action film that doesn't let up.  Great, old-school entertainment. 

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