Okay, so I watched this AFTER I watched The Cannonball Run, which isn’t fair. This is the original coast-to-coast comedy road-race movie.
What was different about this first race was that it was more secret and people were eliminated more definitively.
“55 miles-an-hour is unsafe!”
“THAT’S why it’s unsafe!”
“It’s fast enough to kill ya, but slow enough to make you THINK you’re safe.”
The premise of this awkward sequel to The Cannonball Run is that the father of the rich Arab who lost the Cannonball Run wanted his son to win, so he encourages his son to fund another race, putting up a prize of 1 million (which he expects the son to win back). Both father and son wish to bring glory to their family name, which is Falafel (groan).
The way the Japanese team join the race is pretty awesome. Because the team wanted to avoid a two-day customs quarantine of the computerized car, the car is released from the back of a plane that lands on a road near the airport, deploying and then releasing a parachute to slow it down. The driver ignites the car’s rocket, plunges the car into a lake, and calmly drives the car like a submarine.
“The most distinguished group of highway scofflaws and degenerates ever gathered together in one place” meet at a bar in Connecticut to kick off an illegal cross-country road race. They then proceed in their various vehicles, overcoming various difficulties, to traverse the continent.
Jackie Chan plays a Japanese character, apparently because someone thought all East Asians look the same. They must also have thought that all East Asian languages sound the same, because Jackie mostly speaks Cantonese in the movie.
As fun as Death Race, for all the same reasons. Yay, poetic justice!
Plus, since this is a prequel, we get to find out more about some of the characters from Death Race, like how Lists got his nickname, and how Death Race got started in the first place: it was better than what the prison was broadcasting before, which was a man-to-man fight called Death Match.
Born to Race , a car racing movie about a high-schooler’s relationship with his father, was not laughably bad, but not particularly impressive.
Death Race is a cross between The Fast and the Furious and The Hunger Games. Ish. Some of the jolty filming was not to my taste, but I liked the premise, morbid though it is: Private prisons run popular, televised and very deadly auto racing competitions on site. Winning first place in five races theoretically earns a release from prison.
Usually I have a low tolerance for stuff breaking, but this movie broke stuff rather joyfully, and somehow I didn’t mind. I wonder where they shot the film and how much they spent. Luckily, the bonus features explained a bit about that.
Death Race 2 (2010) is a prequel.
Death Race 3: Inferno (2013) is a sequel.
Death Race is a kind of remake or prequel of Death Race 2000 (1975).
See also Deathsport (1978).
Speed Racer is the Wachowski siblings’ perhaps underrated, largely unsuccessful adaptation of an anime/manga story about a boy named Speed Racer who dreams of being a professional race car driver like his disgraced, deceased older brother Rex. The racing world eats dreamers for breakfast, though, so Speed’s success requires every ounce of determination he has, as well as help from his mom, his dad, his girlfriend Trixie, his best friend Sparky, his little brother Spritle, a chimpanzee—and a mysterious ally known as Racer X.
For me, this movie is a fantastic dramatization of the passion of the expert and the pursuit and achievement of justice in the face of staggering odds. I love it. I love it for reasons that are more like feelings than they are like reasons. I don’t think I can properly explain.
Beware spoilers below.
Continue reading Speed Racer (2008)
This street-racing movie was set in Germany and had a European flavor.
There are four main characters:
- the female owner of a family garage,
- her boyfriend, who’s a street racer and in law enforcement,
- an American pizza delivery boy who wants to race,
- the wife of a rich German who wants him to teach her to race.
The primary source of tension (there are several) comes from the struggle to keep the nearly bankrupt family garage open.
What sticks in my mind most is a negative. After some kid loses a street race, one of the henchmen of the crime boss cuts his hand off. Yuck!