Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Death Race" review

Death Race (2008)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers:Paul W.S. Anderson

Jason Statham... Jensen Ames
Joan Allen... Hennessey
Ian McShane... Coach
Tyrese Gibson... Machine Gun Joe
Natalie Martinez... Case
Max Ryan... Pachenko

Jason Statham gets recruited against his will to join the Death Race. It's a wholesome sporting event where convicts race around a track and try to kill each other with various instruments of destruction attached to their cars. It's one of the world's most popular pay per view events. The evil warden intends to keep it that way. Her main driver was killed and she needs Statham to take his place. Statham gets framed for a crime he didn't commit, (of course), and becomes the legendary Frankenstein. If Frankenstein can win one more race, just one more Death Race, he'll be freed from prison. His fatherly need to see his child again propels him to do the right thing and kill a lot of people.

"Death Race" is based on the Roger Corman flick "Death Race 2000". Actually, I should really say loosely based. There is death, and there's a race but that's about where the similarities end. "Death Race 2000" went for laughs as drivers went cross country trying to run people down so that they could achieve a gory high score. It was trying to make a point, (in its own cheesy B-movie way), that we're all goons addicted to violence. They've got me there. "Death Race" doesn't waste time with making any points, criticism or doing anything that takes time away from mindless carnage.

So Statham hops in his car and proceeds to fly around the track while his competitors die horrible deaths. The warden has a couple of ploys to spice up the Death Race since watching convicts get wasted wasn't exciting enough. One, she decides her brutish drivers need a hot navigator to help guide them down the track. They bus the women in from the maximum security prison for wayward supermodels. Every time they get off the bus, time magically slows down so that we can get every bounce captured in slow motion. It's a ratings winner.

The warden also has a secret weapon that she has been building to really give the drivers a challenge.


During the race she unleashes the Dreadnought, a super truck that was driven straight from the set of " The Road Warrior". The Dreadnought tears it's way through most of the drivers and heads straight at Statham to finish him off. The Dreadnought's appearance was the highlight of the movie. It was a fine B-movie moment.

"Death Race" is a fun B-flick. It has nothing important to say about anything except that blasting fools on a prison race track is a hoot. I enjoyed watching Statham and superbabe run wild through their opponent's blood and guts. It's worth a look.

SCORE: 3 out of 4 races of death

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