Long before Mel Gibson became known as a religious nutcase, he was a young Australian actor. Long before the buddy-cop Lethal Weapon series, Gibson appeared in another series. He was still a cop, and more than that, he was still Australian. The film series I allude to is the famed Mad Max trilogy. I’m in my early 30s, and I watched this trilogy for the first time. To begin, there’s 1979’s Mad Max. Following close behind is 1981’s The Road Warrior. Finally, 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I know, I know, they made a new film. Fury Road. I haven’t watched it yet. The focus here is on the original trilogy.
“Why am I reviewing the trilogy as a whole and not each individual film?” Good question. The reason is, while marketed as a trilogy, I view it as a duology with a continuing story between the first two films, and a horrible, tacked on third entry to squeeze a few more bucks out of the Mad Max franchise. Of the three, the lone one I felt worthy of a full review is The Road Warrior. It’s the best film of the three, but let’s start at the beginning.
The trilogy starts off in 1979 with the original Mad Max. It’s strange to see Mel Gibson so young and hear the accent he either lost or hide over the years. Mad Max drags in a few spots, but overall it’s enjoyable. Depending on your sense of humor, there’s several humorous lines and scenes spread throughout the film. Is it just me, or does the main villain remind anyone else of Scott Levy, better known as professional wrestler Raven? Perhaps it’s just me, and there’s more professional wrestling references to come in this review.
The second and best film as I’ve said is 1981’s The Road Warrior. I could do a solo review of this film, and might one day in the future. Yes, the Road Warriors aka the Legion of Doom received their gimmick from Ole Anderson in Georgia when they debuted not long after the theatrical release based on characters from the film. Both Demolition and the Powers of Pain may be on the minds of old school wrestling fans as well when watching. In Memphis, Lord Humongous was a character, one Sid Vicious donned the hockey mask inside the squared circle early in his career. There’s so many pop culture references originating from The Road Warrior, including a tribute scene from an early South Park season. It’s in the sexual education episode if memory serves.
Finally, and unfortunately, there’s 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. This is a poopfest, no pun intended. Or is there? It’s like the second Conan film, only worse. I gave this about 45 minutes before throwing up my hands in disgust. Thunderdome’s so bad I couldn’t finish it. On the marquee alongside Mel Gibson is Tina Turner. Did she need to be an actress that bad? There’s no way I could write a full review of Thunderdome. It pains me to write this paragraph. The best thing about the film is it gave Dusty Rhodes the inspiration for the fan favorite NWA/WCW gimmick match, War Games: The Match Beyond.
Mad Max and The Road Warrior have a link in both narration and scenes from the first film appear at the start of the second. In the 45 minutes I gave Thunderdome, it’s never explained how it ties in to the story. At this point, I don’t care. I’m not going to bother trying to watch it again. The story should have ended with The Road Warrior. For all intents and purposes, it looked like that was the plan, and there was a great, unexpected ending. I won’t be spending money on any Mad Max box sets. I’ll add the original Mad Max, and I can’t wait to add The Road Warrior to my collection.
Copyright © Drew Martin 2017