Mad Max (1979): Collector’s Edition [Blu-ray]

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It’s nice to know that “Mad Max” is a film that still holds up, and is arguably an action masterpiece. George Miller directs an apocalyptic opus that’s set in the wasteland of Australia where the apocalypse always tends to eventually catch up with the environment. “Mad Max” is one of the best of its kind, it’s a revenge film, but a very complex cop film about the losing battle between a biker gang and a police force.

Mel Gibson gives a rousing performance as Max Rockatansky, a police force officer who is known for his wild acts that challenge the very nature of a local gang called the Acolytes. They’re ruining civilization and giving the police force a run for their money. What is so unique about “Mad Max” is that its revenge tale doesn’t get in to action until the final half hour, as Miller devotes a majority of the narrative to a crime thriller about assassinations, and biker gangs running amok. Max Rockatansky is a powder keg waiting to explode, and he eventually becomes Mad Max after losing his son and wife to the Acolytes and their terrorism. Gibson cuts his teeth on this movie, portraying a clean cut and very wide eyed young man who begins seeing the worst violence imaginable.

This brings him down in to the darkness, preferring to get in touch with his violent side and become as bad as the biker gangs running amok in his land, than playing by the rules. Before such an emergence of the character who evolves in to this anti-hero with nothing to lose, director George Miller stages a ton of brilliant car chases that pit the acolytes against the police force on the harrowing tundra that is the open road. Miller paints the world of Australia as a wasteland open to being preyed upon by the Acolytes, many of whom have no regard for civilians living among the populace. There are some very good performances aside from Gibson’s, and that includes Steve Bisley, and Hugh Keays-Byrne as the resident heel Toecutter.

“Mad Max” is often imitated but never duplicated, it’s an apocalyptic cop film that carves out a unique and very empathetic revenge motivated anti-hero that would go on to see the end of the world. The Blu-Ray from Scream Factory includes a twenty seven minute retrospective packed with Interviews with Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel and DP David Eggby. There’s also the sixteen minute Mel Gibson: The Birth of a Superstar a vintage featurette about the origins of Mel Gibson’s career. There’s also Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon about the film series featuring interviews, and movie clips. Finally there’s a theatrical trailer, TV Spots, and a Photo Gallery. As always there’s the great Audio Commentary featuring Art Director Jon Dowding, Director of Photography David Eggby, and Special Effects Artist Chris Murray and David Ridge, all of whom indulge audiences with some great anecdotes and insight in to production.