I strongly disagree with anyone who thinks Mad Max is a bad movie. Furthermore, I strongly disagree with anyone who thinks the Road Warrior is a "better" movie, even though I can agree with most of all the rebuttal points.
Mad Max IS
a good movie. It even offers some themes that cannot be found in Road Warrior. For example, the cars. Mad Max is about the cars. Road Warrior destroys the famous car halfway through, and becomes more of a fuel depot siege (not that this is a bad thing, but people who are gear-heads would prefer Mad Max because it is more driven by vehicles than the sequel) and a semi truck road-race. Mad Max is more about the open road, and really presses that in that apocalyptic world, people run bad and there's little that the "cops" can do. Mad Max also contains a very engaging story about his wife and his kid, along with some very touching scenes like the "I am crazy for you" hand signals. I absolutely love the scenes when his wife plays the sax, or when Mad Max is staring off into the ocean, thinking about what to do next. Those are very important and touching scenes, and they are not found in Road Warrior. The end of Mad Max hits harder than bricks. Claiming Mad Max isn't a good movie is literally destroying this films important history. Shame on you.
I see Mad Max/Road Warrior somewhat comparable to Terminator 1/2. Hear me out:
Mad Max = Terminator 1. Both of these movies are about the villain, and are different in genres from their sequels. In general: Mad Max is a drama/thriller/sci-fi/action movie (in that order). Mad Max 2 is an action/sci-fi movie. The Terminator is a horror/sci-fi/thriller/action. The Terminator 2 is a action/sci-fi movie. One other thing I've forgotten about Mad Max, is that it really builds the villains up more than Road Warrior, and uses very little technology or money to do so. I hate the villians in Mad Max the most, because they are just nasty pricks and very effective at being what they are. Mad Max, just like Terminator 1, is the low budget staple mark of the franchise and viewed in the context of their historical periods, they are masterpieces and stand mighty strong up to the sequels. Additionally, both of these movies provide the origins, and incorporate very touching romantic scenes that the sequels do not have.
Mad Max 2 = Terminator 2. No more romance. More emphasis on the action, and less of the touching emotion and arguably, character development. Mad Max 2, along with Terminator 2, is "balls to the wall" jaw-dropping action that hits hard all the way through. I love both of these movies, but I tend to think things out more before making blanket statement that they are "better" than the originals. No, they are not. They are just simply different, and simply awesome.
Terminator 2 isn't necessarily better than Terminator 1. Just like the Road Warrior isn't necessarily better than Mad Max. If you still feel this to be the case, fine. But you cannot claim that Mad Max is a "bad" movie. You better run for cover.