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George Miller
Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston
Writing Credits:
Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant

In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

Box Office:
$2 million.
Opening Weekend
$2,527,864 on 704 screens.
Domestic Gross
$23,667,907 million.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Castillian Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby 2.0
German Dolby 5.1
Italian Dolby 2.0
Czech Dolby
Hungarian Dolby 1.0
Polish Dolby 1.0
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese Simplified

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $33.99
Release Date: 2/1/2022

• Audio Commentary with Director George Miller and Cinematographer Dean Semler
• Introduction by Film Critic Leonard Maltin
• “Road War” Featurette
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Road Warrior [4K UHD] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 17, 2022)

One of those films on the short list of sequels often considered superior to their predecessors, 1981’s The Road Warrior expands on the characters and situations seen in 1979’s Mad Max.

When we first met him, “Mad” Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) worked as a police officer, but after baddies killed his wife and kid, he got his revenge and struck out on his own.

We now find Max as a drifter in a lawless, post-apocalyptic Australian outback who perpetually seeks gasoline, a limited quantity in this environment. “The Gyro Captain” (Bruce Spencer) claims he knows where to find a refinery, and he leads Max to that location.

Max waits for his chance to abscond with fuel, a task complicated by the presence of violent gangs – including one with psychotic Wez (Vernon Wells).

Max finds himself involved in a different manner after he watches Wez’s gang rapes and murders some locals – the folks who actually run the refinery. Though he claims he just wants the gas, Max becomes the protector of these folks – in an anti-hero way – and that choice leads to a variety of battles with Wez and his boss, The Humungus (Kjell Nilsson).

Road Warrior came out back when I was in high school, and I remember my friends all loved it. How did I feel about it? About 40 years later, I can’t claim that memories flooded back to me, which might be a sign that I never felt all that wild about the film. Oh, I conjured some vague impressions, but for the most part, this felt like my initial screening of the movie.

And not an especially satisfying screening at that, as it its best, Road Warrior could provide some good action. The early sequence that introduces Max, Wez and others packs a decent punch, and matters kick into gear when we hit the final 20 minutes or so.

Unfortunately, we must put up with a lot of nothing the rest of the time. Road Warrior lacks a substantial plot, as like Mad Max, it essentially provides little more than a Western dressed up in futuristic garb.

Max becomes the reluctant hero forced to protect the innocent from sadistic marauders. We’ve seen similar stories many times, and we’ve seen them explored in a more involving manner.

That’s because Road Warrior does little to explore/develop its characters. At least the Max of the first film had an arc.

Instead, this one fails to change or show much personality as the story progresses, and the supporting characters lack real definition as well. They’re one-dimensional cartoons with little else to offer us.

If the story came with more meat, that wouldn’t seem so bad, but it remains a lackluster narrative. For a putative action flick, Road Warrior can be awfully draggy – especially given its fairly brief running time.

The movie often teases us with action but we must wait a while for these to come. We end up well into the third act before much really happens.

When we do get to the action, the movie does well for itself. Heck, maybe director George Miller planned it that way, so perhaps he wanted the first hour-plus to seem low-key so the climax would present a greater impact.

The problem is that the first two acts drag so much that they threaten to lose us. The movie’s oh-so-80s view of the future doesn’t help, as we find a particularly era-based take on how such an era would look – think “extras on a Plasmatics video” and you’ll be on the right track. This probably seemed cool 40 years ago, but now it comes across as downright campy.

Again, the climax does manage to redeem matters somewhat, as Miller stages a big road battle that creates a good sense of excitement. Unfortunately, I think it comes too late to make much of a difference. Though not without charms, The Road Warrior drags too often to create a consistently satisfying adventure.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Road Warrior appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Overall, the image satisfied.

Overall clarity seemed good. Some low-light shots felt a bit soft, but that stemmed from the source, and general delineation worked well.

I witnessed no concerns with jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes were absent. Since I saw a nice layer of grain, I didn’t sense any intrusive noise reduction, and the print came free from defects.

Films set in post-apocalyptic wastelands don’t usually opt for bright ‘n’ bold hues, so expect a sandy palette from Road Warrior. Though occasional instances of more dynamic hues occasionally occurred, the tones remained low-key most of the time.

Within those constraints, they seemed appropriate. HDR gave the hues added oomph and impact.

Blacks were deep and tight, and shadows were fairly good. As implied earlier, a couple of low-light shots looked a bit dense, but overall clarity was positive.

HDR contributed emphasis and power to both whites and contrast. In the end, this became a quality presentation.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack showed its age but fared reasonably well. The soundfield managed to open up matters in a reasonable manner, as the movie exhibited decent panning and movement.

The big action sequences used the side/rear speakers the best and showed vehicles and weapons that cropped up in logical places. As it moved from rear to front, the gyrocopter worked best.

The integration could be a bit clunky, and music lacked particularly precise stereo imaging, but given the era of the material, the soundscape created a fairly solid sense of place.

Audio quality also showed its age but held up in a generally positive manner. Speech could be a little rough at times, but the lines tended to be fairly natural and concise.

Music showed good range, and effects provided positive accuracy, as they could also demonstrate nice low-end punch. This wasn’t a killer remix but it seemed more than passable for an old movie.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The 4K’s Atmos audio expanded somewhat on the BD’s 5.1 material.

However, it also came with re-recorded elements and appeared to offer a less accurate representation of the original mix than otherwise might’ve been the case. The 4K included the earlier audio as well to give viewers a choice.

As for the 4K’s visuals, it brought the standard upgrade in terms of sharpness, colors and blacks. Expect a clear step up in quality here.

Only a few extras appear here, and we launch with an audio commentary from director George Miller and cinematographer Dean Semler. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cinematography and visual design, cast and performances, sets and locations, sequel-related issues, stunts and action, editing, music and some other topics.

Semler and Miller combine for a warm, collegial feel in this likable chat. They keep the commentary moving well most of the time and give us a nice overview of the appropriate issues. Expect an informative, enjoyable piece.

The movie can be viewed with or with an introduction from film critic Leonard Maltin. In this three-minute, 35-second piece, Maltin gives us some background on the movie and offers his perspective on its success. He throws in some nice observations.

Finally, Road War runs 48 minutes, 53 seconds and brings comments from Miller, Semler, screenwriter Terry Hayes, location manager Steve Knapman, art director Grace Walker, “Mad Max enthusiast” Tim Ridge, stuntman Guy Norris, and actors Mel Gibson, Vernon Wells and Emil Minty. -

“War” looks at aspects of the first film and its success, the decision to go for a sequel and its script development, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes and production design, photography, stunts and action, and thoughts about the movie’s legacy.

Inevitably, some of the commentary’s notes reappear here. However, we get plenty of new material as well and this becomes a pretty solid overview of the production.

The set also includes a Blu-ray copy of Warrior that duplicates the version linked earlier. Note that this means it provides a trailer that fails to reappear on the 4K.

Although I can’t say I loved Mad Max, I found it preferable to its often slow, often campy sequel. The Road Warrior ends with a bang but plods on its way to its big finale. The 4K UHD brings us very good picture and audio along with a handful of useful bonus materials. This turns into a satisfying version of the film.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of ROAD WARRIOR

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