The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) (1981)

mad max ii poster 1981 movie road warrior
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Last 20 minutes are awesome


Movie Info

Movie Name: The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/B-Movie

Release Date(s): December 24, 1981

MPAA Rating: R

road warrior mad max 2 mel gibson

Don’t get mad…get even

Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) finds himself alone and on the road after the death of his family.  The lawlessness is growing and the gangs are getting more violent as the battle for oil and supplies increases.  When Max finds settlers protecting a working oil refinery, he learns that the city is under siege by hooligans willing to kill.  It is time for Max to take a stand and protecting the oil and the villagers might be impossible.

Written and directed by George Miller (with additional scripting by Terry Hayes and Brian Hannant), The Road Warrior is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure film.  Following Mad Max in 1979, the film was known as Mad Max 2 in most places in the world but was renamed for American audiences due to the little seen Mad Max at the time.  The film was released to positive reviews and a strong box office.

road warrior mad max 2 biker punks

The punks all the other punks want to be…

I loved Mad Max.  I watched it over-and-over again when I’d rent it and happily even got to see it in the theater in London in 1997.  My love of Mad Max was probably due to the release of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome…though The Road Warrior eclipses both of them in style and story.

The film is grueling.  It has an old West feel with Max “rolling into town” like a Western cowboy.  In its Western feel, it also feels like the Akira Kurosawa films which served as the basis for many of the Western stories (in particular Yojimbo).  Max weighs his options and makes a decision…and the chase is on.  The story of Mad Max and its great desert chase has been borrowed multiple times since its filming and even was revisited in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and much later in Mad Max: Fury Road…but you could argue that Road Warrior does it best as a plot device.  The chase is cool, but it also serves a legitimate purpose.

road warrior mad max 2 hockey mask boss ultimatum

Your bases are belong to us!

Part of the charm of the movie is Gibson who wasn’t a star at the time (nor did he have any of the baggage that now is linked to him).  Max is quiet and broken from the events of the previous film.  He’s lost everything and doesn’t care about life…he’s forced to remember what it is like to want and to want to survive.  It turns him into a hero.  He’s joined by some of the best “punks” brought to the screen on both sides of the wall.  The child boomerang toting Emil Minty and the Mohawk wearing bikers all fit together with Max to form this perfect punk dystopia that many have tried to match (but have often failed).

The movie also is visually stunning.  Miller has always relied on practical effects (he didn’t have much option in 1981), but The Road Warrior is a spectacle.  You have car crashes, quick edits, deaths, explosions, helicopters, and everything you’d want in an action movie…but surprisingly it also has a plot and heart (often missed by action films).

road warrior car chase scene ending

Hit the road for action!

The Road Warrior was a regular on TV and cable in the 1980s and 1990s.  I grew accustom to the TV version of the film, and it is easy to forget how violent and over-the-top the unedited version is.  While I do love Fury Road and it has its own story to tell, there is something about the nature of this film and its originally.  If you watched The Road Warrior over-and-over again and burnt out on it or if you didn’t discover Mad Max until after the release of Mad Max:  Fury Road, The Road Warrior (or Mad Max II) is worth revisiting again and again.  The Road Warrior was followed by Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985.

Related Links:

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Mad Max:  Fury Road (2015)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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