The Road Warrior
Directed by George Miller. Produced by Byron Kennedy. Written by Terry Hayes, George Miller, and Brian Hannant. Release date: December 24, 1981.
After Mad Max made all of the money - it held the record for "most profitable movie" for a long, long time - it was inevitable that a sequel would be made. Just two years later, The Road Warrior was released, with a significantly larger budget. It set the stage for Beyond Thunderdome, it saw Max grow as a character, and it depicted an even clearer vision of the future.
Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson): Our leading character. A former police officer who lost his family in Mad Max and now wanders alone as a drifter.
Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence): A wanderer who flies a gyrocopter and teams up with Max.
Feral Kid (Emil Minty): A child in the group of settlers, he befriends Max.
The Humungus (Kjell Nilsson): The leader of a motorcycle gang. The film's villain.
Wez (Vernon Wells): Second-in-commend of the Humungus' gang.
Pappagallo (Michael Preston): The leader of the group of settlers who defend an oil refinery.
A few years after the plot of Mad Max, society has crumbled even further. Supplies, particularly gasoline, are running very low. Max, a former police officer, now roams the Australian wasteland. He, having lost his wife and child and having killed several people, is a shell of the man he once was. While looking for fuel, he's ambushed by Gyro Captain, whom he soon overpowers and uses as an escort to a refinery.
The refinery is run by some settlers, who are under somewhat constant siege by a motorcycle gang led by The Humungus. The plot becomes clear at this point: Max will help the settlers defeat the gang and acquire a truck that will hold all of their fuel so they can escape from the refinery.
Max winds up joining up with the settlers. He befriends several of them, begins to regain the humanity he lost in Mad Max, and eventually together the settlers and Max take out the gang and escape. Max, however, does not go with them. He becomes a lone drifter, just like he began the film. He is, now, the "Road Warrior."
Is It Any Good?
The Road Warrior comes across like a classic Western that's been dressed up in a post-apocalyptic setting with over-the-top action. It's possibly the most enjoyable Western ever made, at least for action junkies. It's a lot of fun from start to finish, and it further depicts the world that George Miller and Byron Kennedy began to establish in Mad Max. We've gone full post-apocalypse this time around. Mel Gibson is even better in the lead, coming across as more confident and assured, and we continue to get a strong supporting cast filled with memorable characters. The Road Warrior is lots of fun.