Saturday, January 09, 2010

Death Race

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.


Bill Crider said...

I liked this one, too, but you really should seek out the ealier one, which I confess to having seen in the theater. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

I think I saw the Stallone/Carradine movie on TV once but I don't remember much about it. That is a great cover.

Anonymous said...

The original Death Race is loaded with subversive black humor.
The re-make was fun, but the first one is much more memorable.

John Hocking

James Reasoner said...

Thanks, guys. Based on your recommendations, the original version is now on my Netflix list. Evidently it isn't out yet on DVD, but when it is, I'll get it.

Rittster said...


Even a self-confessed PHEMH (post-hippie-era movie-hater) like myself gives two thumbs up to the original Death Race 2000. It's already had several different dvd releases, but Neflix seems to offer none of them at the moment. But DR 2000 is really a unique movie--part futuristic sci-fi, part media satire, part political satire, part action-adventure movie, part comic book, etc., etc. It's really something I would even recommend seeking out to buy, if you can find a cheap used copy on the net.


Todd Mason said...

DEATH RACE 2000, which I saw, appropriately, at a drive-in at a slightly inappropriate age, was written by Robert Thom and Charles Griffiths, who often did a little better than was necessary on a Corman film and in similar circumstances, based on a treatment by Ib Melchior, who maybe didn't extend himself as often, and was directed by Paul Bartel, who went on to direct CANNONBALL, but then EATING RAOUL, which pretty much bookends the range of this film. Yeah, if it pops up your way, it's worth the look. No CITIZEN KANE, but fun.

My question to my parents: Are we likely to ever have a president that bad? My parents almost in unison: We already have.