The Australian outback, early 21st Century in a post-nuclear holocaust world - the now greying, middle-aged Max lives a desolate, nomadic existence travelling the deserts in his camel-hauled wagon. When this is stolen by a father and son team in a home-made light aircraft, our hero sets out to retrieve his stolen property. His search takes him to the oasis settlement of Bartertown, a makeshift shanty sprawl built in an old quarry ruled by the icy Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) and the curious combination of MasterBlaster - Master being a brilliant dwarf engineer (played by Angelo Rossitto), who is carried on the shoulders of Blaster (Paul Larsson), a hulking giant with the mind of a little child. Bartertown derives it's energy from a herd of pigs, who's manure is converted to methane in an underground refinery and used to drive an old diesel locomotive that serves as a massive generator.
Aunty Entity is impressed by Max, but nonetheless insists that to retrieve his camels and wagon he must enter a duel to the death with Blaster in the Thunderdome, a vicious domed arena in which rival warriors settle their differences for public entertainment. Despite winning, Max then finds himself exiled from Bartertown and thrown into the wilderness, where he encounters and befriends a community of feral youngsters. These are the descendants of the survivors of an airliner crash, living in the wreckage of the 'plane which was evacuating their parents from the nuclear war that destroyed civilisation. Together, Max and the teenage tribe plan to liberate Bartertown from Aunty Entity's clutches and it's barbaric way of life. After so much violence and killing, can the world see a return to peace and growth once again?
Borrowing unashamedly from Russel Hoban's cult anti-nuclear novel Riddley Walker, the film sports a terrific soundtrack by Tina Turner and others. Several of the actors suffered heatstroke whilst making the film on the burning plains of New South Wales.