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Arriving more than thirty years ago, MAD MAX ($25) featured a then baby-faced and reasonably unknown Mel Gibson in one of his earliest starring roles. Co-written and directed by George Miller, MAD MAX was one of the most significant exports of Australian cinema and spawned two even more popular sequels. Set in a dystopian Australian future, where oil is running out and law and order has begun to break down, MAD MAX tells the story of the Federal police’s Main Force Patrol, as it deals with a vicious motorcycle gang on the open road. As the film opens, an escaped gang member, who goes by the moniker Nightrider, has eluded several highway police units, but ends up in a fiery crash after a breakneck chase with MFP’s top officer- Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson). From there, Nightrider’s lawless motorcycle gang goes on a rampage and begins terrorizing a small town. Unfortunately, the motorcycle gang avoids prosecution, as fearful victims and witnesses refuse to come forward. After the motorcycle gang brings their rampage to Max’s doorstep, our leather-clad hero takes to the road in a mad frenzy to dole out deadly retribution. Despite being made on a minuscule budget, MAD MAX has been effectively staged by George Miller and features a number of gritty good chase sequences that have earned the film a well-deserved reputation as a minor action classic. The cast of MAD MAX also includes Steve Bisley, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Tim Burns, Geoff Parry and Roger Ward.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made MAD MAX available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is solid enough, but its low budget origins can sometimes be a limiting factor. For the most part the image appears reasonably crisp and has more than respectable definition. MAD MAX does appear somewhat softer than bigger budget movies made during the same period, with the cinematography displaying a somewhat gritty and rough around the edges quality. Colors can be a bit subdued, but usually registers at a naturalistic level of saturation. Blacks look okay and the whites are stable. Contrast and shadow detail are kind of average for a low budget action flick. The film elements from which MAD MAX has been transferred have some evidence of instability, as well as an occasional blemish. There is a noticeable grain structure in the image, but it is never overwhelming.

MAD MAX is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering the film’s age and production limitations, the sound has been given a respectable re-working from its monaural origins. There is some spread of music and sound effects into the outlying channels, while the original Australian dialogue track remains locked to the center channel. Despite the lossless encode, fidelity sounds a little thin, but that is understandable for a film of this ilk. Additionally, the bass channel contains very little information. An Australian monaural track is also provided, as is an American dubbed English monaural track, plus French and Spanish tracks. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features. Limited supplemental content has been included on the Blu-ray Disc itself, but a DVD Edition of the film has been included, with all the supplements being provided there. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with cinematographer David Eggby, art director John Dowding, special effects supervisor Chris Murray, and film historian Tom Ridge. Next up is Road Rants Trivia & Fun Fact Track- watch the movie with factoids. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Mel Gibson: The Birth Of A Star and Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon. Theatrical Trailers, a Photo Gallery and TV Spots close out the supplements on the DVD. Only the Audio Commentary, Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon, Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots have been ported to the Blu-ray.

As I stated above, George Miller’s MAD MAX is one of the most significant exports of Australian cinema and a film with a well-deserved reputation as a minor action classic. The Blu-ray presentation is solid rendering of this low budget affair. A must have for fans- recommended.


Mad Max (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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