For, June 7, 2013

Fans of the "Fast & Furious" franchise who have never seen "The Road Warrior" might want to check out what amazing — and still peerless — stunt work could be done with actual vehicles and talented drivers before CGI (computer-generated imagery) took over the movie special-effects industry.

When "The Road Warrior" burst onto the scene in summer 1982, it was such a muscular, kinetic wild ride, with such a unique vision — and a pack of wild-eyed maniacal villains that seemed to be a zany cross between hippies, punkers and bikers — that it took the box office by storm. The strange, burned-out, post-apocalyptic landscape created in the Australian outback by filmmaker George Miller was unlike anything we'd seen before. And Mel Gibson was a new young star no one yet knew.

Oh, sure, sci-fi/fantasy fans — an audience much smaller in the 1970s than today — may have enjoyed "A Boy and His Dog" (1974) or "Damnation Alley" (1977) but those films had little influence on the genre since they were not widely seen and only later built up cult followings. But "The Road Warrior" was such a huge worldwide success that it set the pace for "The Terminator" (1984), "Waterworld" (1995), "The Road" (2009), "The Book of Eli" (2010) and too many others to name, including uncountable zombie pictures.

A lot of folks at the time didn't realize "The Road Warrior" was known elsewhere in the world as "Mad Max 2," a sequel to a 1979 film that was a hit everywhere except here after a U.S. distributor dubbed all the actors' voices (including American-born Gibson's), believing the Australian accents were too thick. Another sequel followed in 1985, "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," co-starring Tina Turner.

All three are included in "Mad Max Trilogy," out this week in a new Blu-ray set from Warner Bros. ($49.99), which features all the previously released bonus features but nothing new. "Mad Max" and "The Road Warrior" are rated R; "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" is rated PG-13.