We Want Action: Death Race (2008)

death race I’d say by this point that my love of Jason Statham movies is well documented. I’ve written about him about 15 times on this blog and reviewed the majority of his movies. But there was one glaring hole as far as I was concerned: Death Race. Now, I know I’ve seen this movie at some point since its 2008 release, but I don’t remember when and I didn’t blog about it, so it’s pretty much like it didn’t happen. I wanted to remedy that while also checking out how the movie looked on Bluray, so up it went on the Netflix queue and here we are.

The movie is a remake of the Roger Corman-produced classic Death Race 2000 starring David Carradine with a kid named Sylvester Stallone also appearing. I watched the movie a while back — before this newer version came out, actually — and remember the basics, but definitely want to get my hands on the two disc set that Shout put out a few years back. Anyway, the remake takes place in a world that suffered from an incredible economic downturn that lead to the privatization of the prison system. These corporations apparently don’t have to follow anything resembling laws and soon enough started pay-per-view gladiatorial combats that evolved into wild super-car races. These cars have all kinds of armor and guns and defensive weapons an the like. The prison that Jason Statham gets unfairly sent to (he’s framed for his wife’s murder) is on an island with all these fail safes so the prisoners supposedly can’t turn the formidable firepower on the warden or guards.

Without a doubt, Death Race is the kind of movie you shouldn’t think about too much. You should just sit there and absorb all the badassery, posturing, explosions and ultra-crazy car chases (which look like real life Twisted Metal games in all the best ways). It’s easy to say that this Paul W.S. Anderson film is like a video game because, well, it is. The cars all have cool augmentations and you have to hit certain sections of the track just to use your guns or defensive weapons. It’s super fun and super crazy and super silly if you don’t allow yourself to think too much, even if you’re constantly assaulted with the kind of mugging usually only found in police stations after a frat party raid. If you’re the type that can’t let yourself go, I encourage you to have fun with it and maybe have a drink every time the camera zooms in on whoever’s speaking for a millisecond or one of the drivers spouts off a silly line like “Ooh yeah!” and what not.

I do want to mention one thing about this film, though, if you’re a fellow Statham fan who hasn’t seen it. This isn’t your typical Statham flick in that he’s not getting into fights every few seconds. In fact, I think there’s only two fights in this movie, the one where the cops assaults Statham and his fellow workers at a closing factory (if you haven’t gotten it yet, the authority in this movie is capital B bad) and another one between his character and some other prisoners right after he enters the place. I read somewhere that they didn’t want him to go all kung-fu because it might confuse this movie with his Transporter franchise. The real action here takes place on the track and it’s all so captivating that I was trying to do some editing while it was on and found myself completely captivating every time the races started. They’re worth the price of admission and look pretty amazingly fantastic on Blu-ray. Get this movie from Netflix, invite some friends over and have yourself some fun you guys.

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