With one of Hopper's most memorable "over-the-top" performances (and all with an Irish-accent too), "Mad Dog Morgan" tells the true tale of one of Australia's most violent outlaws roaming the Outback in the mid-1800's.
Although very entertaining (Hopper was reportedly drunk throughout most of production -- his reason being that he wanted to "properly" portray Morgan) and retaining much accuracy as to the Australian outlaw's murders, this film is not without its flaws. And unfortunately, there are many of them.
One of the main problems I have is that the version released to the American public, and the one I happened to see, is that although it is "officially" rated-R, this is a heavily edited version of the film. Certain words are dubbed out, along with certain scenes that were obviously cut away from for unexplained reasons.
Also, even though it's shown in the Widescreen 2.35:1 format, don't be fooled by the film's aspect ratio -- certain scenes still pan and scan and reveal that the movie wasn't formatted properly from the 4:3 aspect ratio.
The film's continuity doesn't help with the fact that Hopper's very fake looking jet-black beard (the hair on his head is brown) can't seem to stay looking the same throughout the mid-point of the movie: sometimes it's a full beard and mustache, the next scene it's just the beard, and the next is an even thicker beard and mustache.
But other problems with the film can be dismissed if you really don't care about the back-story of Morgan: one thing being his nickname, "Mad Dog", which was the name given to Morgan by the film's director, Philippe Mora. In fact, the outlaw's real name was John Fuller, with the name "Dan Morgan" being one of his aliases.
Also, the Irish-accent that Hopper uses that I referred to earlier is actually unexplained: Dan Morgan was born in and lived in Australia for much of his short life.
Other than those flaws, the film does have its moments of low-budget filmmaking uniqueness and much of it looks and feels as raw as the continent it was filmed in.
"Mad Dog Morgan" also stars the famous Aboriginal character actor David Gulpilil as Billy, Morgan's partner in crime. If the name doesn't sound familiar, he will be best remembered for his roles in "Crocodile Dundee" and 1971's "Walkabout".
And an interesting bit of trivia about "Mad Dog Morgan" is that Gulpilil is said to have gone walkabout during the middle of production to ask the trees about Dennis Hopper, and the trees reportedly told him that Hopper was crazy.
As I said before about the storyline, it's pretty much accurate, that is, until the ending -- SPOILER ALERT!
In the film, Morgan is shot in the neck and in a controversial scene, dies a painful death after hours of choking on his own blood (in truth, Morgan was shot in the back). But the version I saw edits most of that scene out and goes straight to a scene involving his body on display for officials whose dialogue is dubbed for language.
"Mad Dog Morgan" may have been a great movie, but then again I will never know because how can you truly critique a film when part of the director's vision has been edited for content.