The Road Warrior (1981) Short Review


The Road Warrior is a film that’s 3 decades old that holds up VERY well. It’s easily one of the best action films ever made. Not only do the action scenes deliver, but it’s a smart movie. From the dialogue to the graphic situations presented, its all calculated without appearing so.

It’s the sequel to the Australian nihilistic hit film Mad Max, but this is one of the rare sequels that takes the original idea into a drastically different direction. In between the two films, you don’t know exactly what has happened other than there has been some sort of world war of an ‘end times’ magnitude. This is the very rare sequel that is better than the original by a large margin.

George Miller (director of the original Mad Max) is a man that knows how to tell a story; everything in the film has a logical reason for being. He knows when to show and what to show for maximum effect and without the movie becoming just about the violent acts.

Every shot and small subplot ties into the whole. Despite all of the loud violence there is a level of subtlety and technique that is barely noticeable.

One of the slickest examples is when the injured Pappagallo (Mike Preston) foreshadows the end of the film with a tiny hourglass in his hand. Just brilliant stuff.

This is film storytelling at its best. Miller allows the visuals to tell the story. After a brief setup that describes (vaguely) how the world  of Max has come to be, there is very little dialogue afterwards.

The most loquacious people in the film are the  Sky Pilot, Pappagallo and the Humungous (the villain).

The visuals are artful and add to the epic feel of whats at stake. I really love all the night shots with the heavy winds.


No action film is anything without a good villain and there are several very distinctive bad guys presented. The villains don’t need any ridiculous back story. Their deeds pretty much say all that there needs to be said.When The Humungus shows up, it’s not important who he was or how he came to be the leader 0f the sadistic wanderers in need of the ‘civilized’ folks gas. It’s instantly recognizable it’s probably because of brute force and little mercy.

Of course, this film (or the series for that matter) would not be what it is without Mel Gibson playing one of the coolest fictional movie protagonists of all time. He has many great lines despite playing a character that doesn’t often share his thoughts, but he doesnt have to say much to convey a lot.

His character does go through ye olde character arc, but it’s very subtle in this. Max has lost everything at the film’s beginning and he has even less before the finale.

Bruce Spence makes for the unlikely but memorable partner. There are many characters with much smaller roles that leave a big impression; each having their distinct quirks and personalities.

And the car chases… WOW… Probably the best vehicle chases ever filmed. Very imaginative with more going on than just people driving cars fast, this had to have a lot of great stunt folks to pull it all off.

Iconic, brutally violent, sometimes funny, and always suspenseful this movie inspired a countless number of imitators that pale in comparison. If you want a good action movie, there are few others that even come close to the Road Warrior.

This is one of those that I would give my highest recommendation. It is one of my favorite films. I’ve watched it two and a half times in the last 2 days.

It’s on my list of Best Films Of 1981 and on my Best Of the 1980s.

5 of 5

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2 Responses to “The Road Warrior (1981) Short Review”

  1. […] Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (Is this the best action flick ever made? I don’t know, but it’s right up there. Like […]

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