I’m a sucker for car racing movies, which means that occasionally I wind up watching terrible examples of the genre. Such as this one.
The protagonist is an arrogant, brooding guy who’s out of control because of his brother’s racing-related death. There’s a girl racer who hates racing and loves nature. There’s some stuff about the physics of making tight turns. There’s some back and forth about risk-taking (bad) and teamwork (good). Lots of vroom vroom on the track.
It all felt amateurish, exaggerated, and overly long.
Hard to beat Herbie for goofy nostalgia or Speed Racer for epic weirdness.
The other two Death Race movies had satisfying plots. This movie had what could have been a satisfying plot, but somehow it fell short. It just wasn’t really particularly clear what was happening or why, so it was hard to care about the characters and events. Moreover, the dialog was amazingly boring. Take away the drama, and it’s just cars and blood and death. Yuck.
The premise is that the moneymaking prison death race management company gets forcibly bought out by a first class jerk, who tells star driver Frankenstein that he in fact cannot win his freedom from prison by winning a fifth race as promised and that instead he is obliged to travel the world to compete and lose to attract fans across the globe.
Continue reading Death Race: Inferno (2013)
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).