Release Date(s)1982 (June 4, 2013)
Studio(s)Warner Home Video
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C-
The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2 to the rest of the world) is the continuing story of a world gone mad, in which a lone figure named Max makes his way across an apocalyptic landscape, trying to avoid crazed gangs of criminals roaming the open roads. The film was released in 1982, once again directed by George Miller and starring Mel Gibson, and was distributed by Warner Bros. It wound up being an even bigger success and more respected than its predecessor.
The title change to The Road Warrior by Warner Bros. came about due to the relative obscurity of the original film and its star. Despite its success, the original Mad Max still wasn’t a widely-known film at that point. It wasn’t distributed by one of the major Hollywood studios either, so presenting it as a standalone film was probably a smart move. The year before, Gibson had earned some recognition by co-starring in Gallipoli, and also starring in The Year of Living Dangerously and Attack Force Z, both released the same year as The Road Warrior. With three films released in so short a time, Gibson’s star was on the rise in 1982, which helped catapult this film to success and brought the actor to the greater attention of both audiences and other filmmakers.
This was a follow-up to his original classic, so George Miller decided to continue the story, more or less, where it left off in the earlier film. This time around, there would be much bigger and even longer car chases, stunts, and action sequences. In fact, the road chase at the end of the movie is arguably the single greatest car chase ever filmed (that is, until Miller outdid himself in Fury Road). Little more needs to be said. Even after all these years, The Road Warrior is still a slick-looking piece of filmmaking, as well as a rollicking good time.
Before this BD release, Warner Bros. had already released The Road Warrior on Blu-ray in 2007. I don’t actually own that disc, so I can’t make a proper comparison and have to go by what I have right in front of me. For the most part, this presentation is quite excellent. The grain structure has been left intact, even during some of the darker moments where grain literally lights up the screen (which is partially due to the limitations of the film stock used to shoot the film with). As a consequence, you won’t find many deep blacks in the presentation. However, there’s an enormous amount of detail on display, as well as satisfying contrast and brightness levels. The color palette is also a bit dodgy. It appears much cooler than previously seen on home video, which takes a bit of the earthy, hot look away from it a bit. It’s a stylistic choice, I suppose, but skin tones never look that great as a consequence. Still, it’s a very strong presentation and until a full-on restoration of the film is carried out, it will probably remain the definitive look for the film.
As this is a region-free release, there are multitude of audio and subtitle options. The main audio is an English 5.1 DTS-HD track, which I’ll be focusing on. Dialogue is perfectly audible and mixed well with the other elements. Score especially benefits from the surrounding speakers, and sound effects have tremendous LFE to them. This is also a soundtrack that has a lot of life in it, although a lot of it is relegated to the front speakers, especially the sound effects. Still, it’s an excellent and boastful soundtrack overall. The aforementioned subtitles are available in English SDH, French, and Spanish, among many others.
The extras are pretty short and sweet, including an introduction to the film by Leonard Maltin, the film’s original theatrical trailer, and a very excellent audio commentary with director George Miller and cinematographer Dean Semler. I have no doubt that we are likely to see a future release of The Road Warrior on Blu-ray one day soon, with new extras and perhaps an even better presentation. But for now, this is an excellent disc to own and (as of this writing) it’s fairly cheap.
- Tim Salmons