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DEATH RACE
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson

Starring:
Jason Statham
Joan Allen
Tyrese Gibson
Ian McShane
Natalie Martinez

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Death Race features Jason Statham as Jensen Ames. Anyway, the whole plot is a little null but let me explain: Ames gets framed and his family is killed. He goes to prison and is offered a chance at parole if he participates in Death Race (taking the role of a masked driver who was believed to be dead), the warden's reality show that involves a lethal game of real-life Mariokart.

Is it good movie?

I thought this movie looked like garbage when I watched the trailer. It comes from Paul W.S Anderson, who has brought us flicks like Mortal Kombat (not bad) and Resident Evil (eh). My buddy dragged me to see it in theatres and I expected only to shut off my brain and see if I could tolerate the whole experience.

Guess what? It worked. This movie is called Death Race. It's about cars that are souped up and convicts finding ingenious ways to kill each other on the race track. It works for several reasons- number one, it violent as hell. Lots of people blowing up and bleeding and losing body parts in entertaining ways. Number two, Jason Statham plays the same character in every single movie and by now he's got it down. I think he's decent enough and he helps things. Number three, the movie is too ridiculous to hate. You're either going to watch the whole thing and think it's decent or leave within the first half an hour, guaranteed.

As for things that don't work, well that's pretty easy. The plot is pedestrian and the supporting cast is mostly terrible (I'm looking in YOUR direction Tyrese), except for Ian McShane as the friendly coach and Joan Allen (who should never have shown her face in this film) as the evil warden . Also, the whole deal can be pretty hard to swallow, the cars literally run over Mariokart-esque symbols to activate weapons and oil slicks and stuff. Also, the reality-TV plot is a little old now isn't it? Would they still be doing this in the distant future?

Anyway, these are small complaints. This is a true brain drainer that is an entertaining way to kill a few hours.

Video / Audio

Video is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks pretty sharp, it's too bad this movie is SO gray. So very gray and drab and gray.

Audio comes in 5.1 Dolby Digital and sounds really, really good during the racing scenes (so, about 90% of the movie sounds wonderful).

The Extras

First comes an audio commentary with director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt and it's not too bad although these guys might actually convince you that this is a better film than it actually is. It's interesting too to hear Anderson actually prefers the theatrical version.

Start Your Engines: Making a Death Race is a 20 minute making of that plays like a pretty standard EPK that will fill you with insider knowledge you may never have learned.

Behind the Wheel: Dissecting the Stunts is..umm...a featurette about the stunts? It runs about 10 minutes long and is pretty detailed albeit glossy.

Last Call
I liked Death Race WAY more than I expected to and it's not a good movie but a good way to kill a couple of hours. Really, it's just what you would expect and I don't know what else to tell you!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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