You’ve all seen this plot before: greedy, corrupt prison warden forces inmates to battle to the death for his own amusement and/or profit. That’s the basic scenario of DEATH RACE, too, although in this case the warden is a woman, the convicts are doing battle in souped-up, armored, and heavily armed cars, and the whole thing is being sold live to millions of viewers on the Internet.
Yes, the whole set-up is extremely hokey, but there are two good reasons to watch DEATH RACE: Jason Statham and Ian McShane. Statham is the former racecar driver who’s fallen on hard times and then is framed for murdering his wife. McShane is the Yoda-like mechanic who befriends Statham and teaches him how to survive the Death Race. Plus the rest of the supporting cast is pretty good, and there are a few minor plot twists that are fairly surprising.
DEATH RACE is based on a Roger Corman-produced movie from the Seventies that starred Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine, DEATH RACE 2000. I’ve never seen it (my cultural education is sadly lacking in some respects) and I probably won’t seek it out any time soon, but I enjoyed this newer version quite a bit and think it’s worth watching.