Monday, 11 March 2013

Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior, AUS, 1981)

The story continues as Max Rockatansky is now a roaming lone wolf, a highway mercenary who does what he can for precious fuel and to survive. Just one man, his car and his trusty loyal dog drifting across the vast outback.

For me this is easily the best of the trilogy as it gives you everything you kinda wanted from the first but didn't quite get. This film has since become an epic legend over time, how many movies videogames boardgames TV shows etc...have used this formula and visual style since! How many cheesy-ass movies have rehashed this simple concept? tonnes.

The plot is even more basic than the first film and dispatches any notion of family, love or even friendship really. Max is purely a roamer who cares for nothing but his dog and Ford Falcon...gas and sustenance are his goals. In short Max reluctantly gains a friend in the form of the Giro Captain and is shown a source of much gasoline, liquid gold. Again reluctantly he ends up helping the small band of protectors that hold the gas from a vicious gang of bondage clad desert thugs...all for more gas.

In short this film is virtually a constant set up for stunts, action and chase sequences, nothing much more than that. Definitely original for the time, pretty much all vehicles and costumes in this style are now basically synonymous with this one franchise and this sequel. This used dirty seedy gritty oily machine-like world of the future also leans towards a Roman gladiatorial-esque look mixed with a touch of rusty steampunk perhaps. The new gang of badass thugs seem to have been visually designed with a blend of Native American Indian and Roman gladiator outfits/makeup in mind. There also appears to be a very strong homosexual undercurrent with all the bad guys (or some of them), some of which are dressed in black spiky leather with police helmets. I always did wonder why they took that specific route, fresh I guess. I also think there is an element of the 1975 film 'Rollerball' with some of the costume designs.

Who can forget the iconic lunacy of Vernon Wells' character with his mohawk and leather chaps displaying his thong clad bare ass. Of course not forgetting his collared blonde male bitch by his side. His utter madness and violent tendencies make him a scary gay loose cannon from hell that yells out unnerving war cries. The rest of the bad guys are merely carnage fodder that end up getting blown to pieces or crushed under vehicle tyres, but their costumes and appearance are all so unique and well crafted mixing fetish bondage gear with biker gear. I say well crafted but maybe that's all the extras had to work with, odd bits and pieces from home mixed with odd props, its possible as it all looks cheap. Very cliched now of course but anything like this now would come under the term 'the Max Mad style'.

The bad guys easily boost the film with their insane appearance and constant assaults, swarming over anything like ants. Their leader again is another brilliant visual treat and again totally homosexual looking for some reason. A huge tanned muscle-bound man who has a good speaking voice, dresses in yet more black spiky strapped bondage gear and wears a hockey mask making him one of the best movie mysteries around. Who is this guy? what happened to him? and with the name Humungus you again tend to think if that has anything to do with the gay theme. Naturally I have also wondered if the hockey mask idea had been pinched from a certain horror movie made the year before.

The good guys are a bland and boring bunch with their stereotypical white outfits which indicate that they are clearly the goodies. Baddies in black, goodies in white...oh the good old days of cliched action films. The Feral kid character was rather annoying I must admit, the story is narrated by an older version of himself which is kinda neat but the actual character was just weird, but I guess that was the idea.

The film goes from one stunt laden set piece to the next not pausing for much of a breather. The outback setting really works wonders for the film and gives a really nice bleak barren dystopian futuristic feel. Of course the final tanker chase sequence is the most memorable and iconic action sequence of the film. Much like the iconic Indy truck chase sequence in 'Raiders' our hero takes on one bad guy after another as they try to derail the tanker resulting in some epic over the top carnage. What was also so original about this film was the fact that all the good guys that assist Max in this final assault get killed off! including the hot female! you didn't see that coming back in the day.

Not even Max's trusty old dog survives the ordeal. Those darn writers always know how to upset an audience. Have the innocent doggie killed off by a bad guy, guaranteed to get most folk all riled up for revenge instantly. Never mind about the humans surviving...most folk will care more about the dog! Damn those writers and their cliched overused movie trickery!!

This is pretty much the perfect action film with everything needed and supplied with class. A small budget (although probably not for the time and the franchise), a lot of creativity, hands on craftsmanship and hard work again shows what can be achieved without relying on CGI. It really does look like they just got a load of crappy vehicles, simply stuck a whole lot of metal junk all over them and trotted off into the desert.

Sparse in every sense, very little dialog, a tough hero with no name (although we do know his name I don't think its mentioned), eerily alien looking locations and all with an abundance of rich imagination. A fantasy barbarian film with guns instead of swords and fetish gear instead of loincloths. The ultimate used heavy metal junkyard post apocalyptic universe that influenced everything.