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The Mad Max Rip-Off We're Still Stunned Exists

The 2010s were a banner decade for action films, with franchises like "John Wick" and "The Raid" ramping up violent, intensely choreographed fight sequences to a whole new level. It was a decade of high-octane "Mission: Impossible" spy movies, and it was also the decade where "The Fast and the Furious" franchise started becoming truly over-the-top with the "bank heist but make it cars" intensity that is 2011's "Fast Five."

But even a decade that saw science fiction greatness in the form of comic book action films like the Russo brothers' "Captain America: Winter Soldier" and Zack Snyder's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," there is one franchise which shocked everyone with arguably the most beloved sci-fi actioner of the last decade — "Mad Max: Fury Road." The film, which was directed by original "Mad Max" creator George Miller, takes a grisly post-apocalyptic world, starved for resources and ruled with an iron grip by dictatorial demagogues, and makes it weirdly hopeful with a little help from stars Tom Hardy as Mad Max and Charlize Theron as the rebellious Imperator Furiosa.

2015 was a great year for films. Ryan Coogler gave us the immediately iconic Rocky spin-off "Creed," Alex Garland made his claustrophobic directorial debut with "Ex Machina," and Denis Villeneuve released his intelligent thriller "Sicario." "Mad Max: Fury Road" easily fits among these films, but, at the time, it was not released in the Chinese market. However, given the worldwide popularity of the film, there wound up being a Chinese knock-off film called "Mad Shelia." Absolutely everything about this film's very existence is stunning.

Mad Shelia is a mockbuster for the Chinese audience who couldn't see Fury Road

"Mockbusters" are obvious imitations of high-profile, big-budget blockbusters. It's likely you've seen one or two of these in your life. In the United States, for example, one of the most well-known mockbuster makers is The Asylum, which is arguably best-known for the now-classic "Sharknado" B-movies. The company also followed up 2006's "Snakes on a Plane" with "Snakes on a Train." China has something similar, and they're called "wangluo da dianying" or "wang da" for short, via Least Worst Option. Loosely translated to "big internet films," these movies are ultra-low-budget knock-offs of popular films crafted as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" debuted in theaters on May 7, 2015. By October 2015, "Mad Shelia" was in production by New Film Media, directed by the company's CEO, Lu Lei. "Mad Shelia" is about a woman named Xi Liya (Fuo Xiao), who, while disguised as a man, acts as a bounty hunter. However, she also spends a lot of her time protecting sweet, virginal types from domineering, evil warlords. Essentially, Xi Liya is a "Steven Universe"-style fusion of Mad Max and Imperator Furiosa.

The poster art for "Mad Max: Fury Road" is a shot of Max standing in front of a fleet of post-apocalyptic vehicles, and "Mad Shelia" is the same, but with cheaper-looking cars and Xi Liya in Max's place. Even the title "Mad Shelia" is a misspelling of the word "Sheila" — an Australian slang term for a woman. The "Mad Max" movies, if you were unaware, originated Down Under.

"Mad Shelia" was released in 2016, and, as we wait for the "Mad Max" prequel "Furiosa," it's hard not to still be amazed that this bizarre Chinese mockbuster still exists — and that we might see a Xi Liya prequel around the same time we get "Furiosa." After all, "Mad Shelia" already got a sequel called "The Return Of the Shelia," so anything is possible!