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Review: 'Mad Max' Revs Louder Than Ever in 4K

by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Nov 24, 2020
Review: 'Mad Max' Revs Louder Than Ever in 4K

Of the Ozploitation films to come out of Australia, "Mad Max" has proven time and again that its lasting impression simply can't be matched. Bolstered by sequels that feel episodic and unique, rather than dragged down by some meaningless shared universe, George Miller's masterpiece endures as both an intelligent, ferocious action film, and a bold retort to the critics who doubted such high art could come from such a trashy era. And with this new 4K Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and their Studio Classics label, our favorite renegade feels more vital than ever.

Kino Lorber brings "Mad Max" to 4K Blu-ray from a new remaster of the original camera negative that runs circles around prior releases. The new 4K presentation offers Dolby Vision HDR encoding that makes the textural pleasures of the 1979 film stand out in ways I haven't seen before. Miller's trademark vision of a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland in the bush of Australia is emboldened here, as finite details are sharper yet David Eggby's affinity for soft focus and high contrast are preserved. For a film that's received so many prior Blu-ray releases, I think this one should be heralded for getting things so right where they could have gone horribly wrong.

Somewhere in the near future, a renegade highway patrolman named Max (Mel Gibson) strikes fear into any criminals that cross his path. Although he may be humble, his pursuit of a violent psychopath brings him, his best friend, and family all under the watchful eye of Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his gang of murderers.

Watching "Mad Max" for the first time when I was younger was a formative experience, as it showed that a sparse budget is but a small obstacle for strong filmmakers like George Miller. He was a doctor before moving into film, yet his direction isn't clinical. Every shot, stunt, gag, and movement is a work of innovation and great detail. You can see that even more clearly with the new 4K presentation, as so much here holds up under closer scrutiny.

As for special features, Kino Lorber has compiled some archival featurettes, but the real win is a new 30-minute interview with George Miller. He has a deep and elemental understanding of filmmaking, and that comes off clearly here. I'd pick up this new edition for that feature alone, but you should also buy it, as it presents a classic in all of its juiced-up, gasoline-powered glory.

Other special features include:

• Audio commentary with art director Jon Dowding, cinematographer David Eggby, special effects artist Chris Murray and filmmaker Tim Ridge
• Interviews with stars Joanne Samuel and Mel Gibson
• Interview with cinematographer David Eggby
• "Mel Gibson: Birth of a Superstar" featurette
• Theatrical trailers
• TV spots
• Trailers from Hell with Josh Olson

"Mad Max" is now available in a 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray combo pack from Kino Lorber.

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