Awesome Aussies: Mad Max (1979) & Mad Max 2 (1981)

After watching Not Quite Hollywood, I came to the depressing realization that I’ve never actually seen the original Mad Max. Looking to correct that immediately, I added it to the top of my queue and got to watching it last week. Man, this movie is out of control. Tarantino mentioned in NQH that these are the kinds of movies that really suck you in because you know that these are real people doing real stunts. I don’t remember if he was talking about Mad Max specifically, but you really get the sense that everything you’re seeing is really happening because you know at least some of it is really happening. That out of control car crash? Is that one of the ones that almost got someone killed? Did that arm really get run over? Holy shit!!! It’s the same feeling I get when I watch Thai movies like The Protector and Ong-Bak or older Jackie Chan movies (you know, ones where he’s not playing the schtick for the kiddies).

Anyway, the parts where Max isn’t on screen can be a bit dull. The idea behind the movie is that we’re in Australia after some kind of global apocalypse. Max, played of course by Mel Gibson, is a cop who takes out a crazy car bandit who goes by the name of Nightrider. This makes Nightrider’s former gang pretty peeved and they go after Max and his friends. From there you get a lot of car crashes and killings. Unfortunately, Max gets sent over the edge with some pretty terrible stuff happening that kind of informs not only his character in the rest of the series but also his character in the Lethal Weapon series. Anyway, the poster is rad, right? So’s the movie. Give it a watch either for the first time or because it’s been awhile.

Unlike Mad Max, I know I’ve seen Mad Max 2, or as it’s called in the States Road Warrior, once at a Manly Movie Night and maybe one other time, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember more than the very basic premise of Max going after a gang of car marauders, this time even crazier with weirder cars lead by a guy named Humungus sporting a Jason Voorhees hockey mask. There’s more to it, taking into account the fact that Max is actually helping a group of people who are running an oil rig from Humungus and his crew, a little kid with a super-sharp boomerang and one of the best dog actors I’ve ever seen. Seriously, dog’s got skillz.

Anyway, there’s something about Mad Max 2 that takes it away from the original. It’s a lot bigger and weirder with more larger than life villains with cooler cars, but it feels less real thanks to a lot of those. You still get Gibson being cold, hard and generally badass but he spends less time in his pimp ride and more hanging out with a dude who built his own helicopter on a mountain and in a compound.

Director George Miller, who also directed the original and oddly enough Happy Feet and Babe: Pig In The City (weird right?), seemed to pick up on some cool elements from the original without bringing over the actual coolest moments and making this a completely balls to the wall nutzo crazy fest. Instead, we still get our somewhat boring down moments just like in the first one. Don’t be mistaken, there is a truly ass kicking car chase at the end of the movie that makes it worth while and so far, this is the best Mad Max sequel (I HAAAAATE Thunderdome). Heck that movie seemed to take the one cool kid with the boomerang and turn him into an entire clan of weirdo dummy children that I wanted to punch in the face individually but can’t because, you know, it’s a movie. Ah well, it’s still a fun ride (no pun intended) and worth the price of admission (a Netflix rental). I’ve got a super trashy Drive In 50-pack along with a much smaller kung fu DVD pack coming in the mail which will surely be far more disappointing. Especially Black Hooker.

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