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Death Race (2008)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Movie Connections:
Death Race 2000
> Death Race 2000 (1975)
> Death Race (2008)
> Death Racers (2008)
> Death Race 2 (2010)
> Death Race 3: Inferno (2013)
> Death Race 2050 (2017)
> Death Race 4: Beyond Anarchy (2018)
Genres:
Action, Action Thriller, Chase Movie, Road Movie, Sci-Fi Action
Director:
Paul W.S. Anderson Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring:
Jason Statham Jason Statham
Joan Allen Joan Allen
Ian McShane Ian McShane
Tyrese Gibson Tyrese Gibson
Natalie Martinez Natalie Martinez

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: August 30, 2008
I'll be honest, the current trend of remakes annoys the shit out of me, but I'm finally starting to get jaded to the whole thing. However, I still find it absolutely mind-boggling when these "remakes" will take the name of the original film, transfer over a character name or two, and release an entirely new premise. Now maybe it's just me, but doesn't this just completely defeat the purpose of a "remake"?

In the near future, the world economy completely collapses. Crime rates are at an all time high, and the prison system simply can't handle the sudden spike; so the jails have all been taken over by private corporations. In order to keep the prisons profitable, and the population in check, the more dangerous criminals were pitted against each other on Pay-Per-View. The bloodthirsty masses soon demand more, however, and the warden at Terminal Island Prison started the Death Race. Prisoners' cars are outfitted with machine guns and missiles, and the promise that five victories will earn them their freedom, and the crowd loves it. In particular, the prisoner known as Frankenstein is incredibly popular. Throughout his 'career' he has won four times, and has developed a bitter rivalry with Machine Gun Joe; a rivalry that has left Frank racing in a steel mask to hide his disfigured face. Meanwhile, Jensen Ames is an honest hardworking man, trying to raise his wife and daughter. They're barely getting by, but Ames life is destroyed the night he's framed for his wife's murder. Thrown into Terminal Island for the crime, he's taken before the warden who announces that Frankenstein was killed in his last race. With no intention of losing her star racer, and since Ames just so happens to have one hell of a racing background, she wants him to don Frankie's mask to keep the ratings high, making sure to remind him he only needs one more win to get out and reclaim his daughter. Ames is no fool however, and he quickly realizes that there's an awful lot of coincidences behind his arrival at Terminal Island.

So, this movie was a remake of 1975's Death Race 2000, or at least that's what I'm told. Other than a few names and minor pieces of plot, this was a completely different movie. In fact, if you changed the character's names and the title of the film, I don't think anyone would have connected the two. You guys remember how Rollerball was this gritty movie full of social satire, and the remake was this mindless action movie? Well, the exact same thing happened here. In fact, I'd say that Anderson was inspired more by the new Rollerball than the original Death Race. Hell, most of the plot points in this film are closer to the former. Now let's be honest. This is Paul W. S. Anderson we're talking about here. The man's not exactly well respected within the film industry, so with him behind the wheel, dumbing down the plot was probably the best thing that could have happened to it.

Now, enough about Death Racer 2000, let's look at this movie for itself. And in a nutshell, it is what it is, and doesn't try to be anything else. This is one of those flicks that you're either going to love or hate, and both sides will point to the exact same reasons. The plotline is paper thin, and doesn't waste time with any subplots. The woman are all hot, and lots of things explode. It's an easy movie to follow if you're hammered, and for an action movie, which is all this is, there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you just want to sit down and watch some fast cars and shit blowing up. Same goes for the acting. Jason Statham is Ames, Tyrese Gibson is Machine Gun Joe, Ian McShane is Frankie's pit chief. None of them are great, but they all get the job done. That is, except for Joan Allen. Allen plays Warden Hennessey; she was going for that smug bitch role, but she just came off as, well, a shitty actress. Also, bonus points for David Carradine providing the voice for the original Frankenstein.

Death Race is just another mindless action flick. It's total shit compared to Death Race 2000, but in it's own right: well, you've seen the trailer. This is one movie where the trailers are an accurate portrayal of the full length feature, and you already know how you're gonna feel about it. Personally, I'm going with a 7/10, but if you don't like these types of flicks, or want a true remake, I'd say you could take a solid five or six points off that score.
Recommended Movies
Death Race 3: Inferno Death Race 2000 Death Race 2 Death Racers Death Race 2050
Death Race 4: Beyond Anarchy Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Resident Evil: Retribution AVP: Alien vs. Predator Doomsday
Mad Max Resident Evil: Afterlife Wanted 2 Fast 2 Furious Fast & Furious 6
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 09/02/2008, 05:37 PM
Piece...of...shit. One moment of idiocy right after the other. It felt like it was going for the same sort of thing as "Snakes on A Plane", except it didn't have Samuel L. Jackson...it had Tyrese. Joan Allen's presence in this film baffles me. Wretched.

All of that said, if you want a cheap B-movie, this dud's for you! 2/10.
Chad #2: Chad - added 01/05/2009, 03:08 AM
On the flip-side, I thought that it was a fun movie. Completely horrible, formulaic, clichéd, and predictable, but fun. Like the review said, you really can't say that you were cheated out of the eight bucks you paid for the ticket (or the $4 for the rental) - it delivered exactly what it promised, nothing more, nothing less. 7/10.
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 01/05/2009, 03:29 PM
I was forced to watch this on Christmas day, and I actually enjoyed it. Of course I expected nothing from the movie as I had no intentions of ever seeing it, but after I watched it, it was an hour and a half well spent. Fun is one word that can sum up this movie.

7/10
Tristan #4: Tristan - added 01/05/2009, 04:52 PM
Too bad it was basically two hours long.

I really hate Statham, and this film didn't change anything. It was predictable and pointless, just like I thought it would be. The only thing it had going for it was the occasional gory scene.

3/10
Ginose #5: Ginose - added 01/31/2009, 04:00 PM
Hey, you guys remember when Joan Allen had a respectable career?
Me too.

2.6/10
Lucid Dreams #6: Lucid Dreams - added 07/11/2010, 02:11 AM
I could not stand this movie. If I wanted to watch the same clichéd fucking action star Statham I would go back to the 80's when it was cool. 3/10
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