It was over thirty years ago that Mad Max was first released in Australia and since then it has become a cult classic. It one of the early films that launched Mel Gibson's career and to this day it stands out as a gritty, disturbing revenge film. The sequels, Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome, are just as popular. Road Warrior had been the only part of the franchise available on Blu-ray, but MGM recently released the original.
Taking place in an Australian dystopian future, Mad Max is the kind of post-apocalyptic piece that shows how society lives under the boot of gangs and law enforcement isn't nearly as plentiful. The film focuses on the adventures of Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), an officer in the Main Force Patrol (MFP). At the beginning Max, along with his buddy Goose (Steve Bisley), are involved in taking down a gang member named the Nightrider. Naturally this leaves the gang wanting vengeance and their barbaric leader, Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) leads the charge in settling the fiery score against Goose.
Max is angered and disturbed by this, and chooses to retire to the countryside with his wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) and son. There he hopes to find some solace, but shadows of the past creep up on him. Tension builds slowly as events are drawn to an inevitable conclusion, and before we know it Max is drawn back in with the same gang responsible for killing Goose. At this point, Max turns into a loose cannon and sets out for revenge against the gang; and he won't be satisfied until they are all dead.
To be perfectly honest, even though it's roughly thirty years after the fact, Mad Max is still disturbing in parts. Granted, we have all become desensitized to violence to some extent, but let's just say that some of what this film does is still pretty graphic. Most of it isn't seen directly, but rather we catch glimpses of reactions to these events. It's through Max that we feel the pain of his loss, and that's testament to Gibson's acting, even this early in his career. Heck, watching the guy come unhinged as he feverishly tracks down Toecutter and his gang is enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.