ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Death Race (2008)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Starring:
Jason Statham/Jensen
Joan Allen/Hennessey
Tyrese Gibson/Machine Gun Joe
Natalie Martinez/Case
PLOT-CRUNCH
An ex NASCAR driver (Statham) is framed for the murder of his honey-bun and slapped in the Pen for it. Then, instead of becoming somebody’s bitch on the inside, he accepts to drive a souped up, gunned up and bombed up car in a deadly race set up by the Warden (Allen) of the joint – all in the name of regaining his freedom. Drivers! Lock, load and start your engines!
THE LOWDOWN

"Okay cocksucker... don't you f*ck with me!" – Warden Hennessey

Full Disclosure: Although my scene is not in the film, I’m still credited in DEATH RACE. So with that info on the table, take this review which ever way you will.

DEATH RACE is a loose re-imagining of the Roger Corman produced/Paul Bartel directed 1975 Cult classic DEATH RACE 2000. On this round though, Paul Anderson was at the driver's seat and I'm happy to report that he Colt Trickled this celluloid ride to the finish line with skill and relentlessness. Personally, AVP aside, I’ve pretty much really dug all of Paul Anderson’s films (never got the fanboy hate for the man... still don't) and I got to say it, this has to be his best celluloid adrenaline injection since the original RESIDENT EVIL.

DEATH RACE lived up to its title and then some by wasting no time in setting up its “we’re gonna bust shit up” premise to then let her rip with a vengeance while having ZERO pretenses about its vehicular tantrum. It was so obvious that the flick was PROUD of its exploitation raison d'etre and personally, I found that to be one of its most endearing traits…right next to its ample mayhem that is. Lets face it here, DEATH RACE is a flick that will first and foremost! appeal to viewers with a set of big bulldog balls between their legs. Yup, it's a guy flick, one that had all the big Bs covered: bullets, brashness, babes, bodacious rides, big booms, big boobs and badasses while being fueled on pure testosterone too boot. Moreover, peeps with a gun fetish rejoice because you’ll drool all over your theater seat like Cujo craving Scooby for a snack after you witness the artillery at play here. Damn! To quote the great Clarence Bodicker: "Guns, guns, guns!" And the same went for the visceral way Anderson shot his races, executed his many brilliantly structured car stunts and the countless kabooms on hand. No Speed Racer-ish girly man CGI here kids! The cars flipping, smashing and crashing were all done practical. How refreshing that was to witness and yes...I was OWNED by it!

Now that I think of it, DEATH RACE somewhat played out like a VIDEO GAME in the sense that it put out its premise, introduced its colorful characters and then went buck wild with its zany race, one where you can pick up shields or/and weapons at that (just like in a video game). Don't get me wrong, there was a simple yet effective narrative line that acted as meat and drove the plot forward but nothing that would eclipse the depth of say Spy Hunter's storyline (a video game Death Race reminded me of at times). And you know what amigos? For a dude like me… that M.O. was good news! Some flicks are created to make you feel or think. Others like this one are created to make you rock out with your cock out! Pure, unadultarated entertainment. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! Evel Knievel on top of all that jiving jive, tighter than a virgin’s slit casting (you can't go wrong with Statham in an action lead, Tyrese as a villain and Joan Allen looking hot and cussing like a sailor on leave), a furious pace that rarely slowed down for a pit stop yet alone to bore me, a sometimes cynical sense of humor that hit the mark and sharp dialogue and you get an unapologetic and high octane canon ball of fun!

On a slim bummer, the flick went the shaky cam way now and again in terms of communicating its races and that resulted in me getting confused as to whom was whom. Also, I’m sure if I think real hard about it - the villain’s motive behind her initial actions won’t fully hold up in a court of Arrow. With that said I won’t do that –cause A: thinking is not my strong suit and B- I don't feel like thinking. Lastly the cap-off was just too neat, cute and tidy for the type of film this was. To be honest, I didn’t fully buy it, especially when it came to one character becoming “a big sweety pie” all of a sudden. Meh. This bad ass deserved a ballsier and less "mainstream" finale.  

All in all though DEATH RACE was what it was with pride - a big budget B-Movie, that did what it did with talent, class, energy and gusto. In fact it wound up being one of my top films of the year thus far. Who knew? It looked like my kind of film (via the trailers) but I didn’t expect to  enjoy it this freaking much! I love it when that happens! On your mark, get set…GO! RACE TO THE DEATH!

GORE
We're treated to an impaling, grisly bullet hits, a beheading and more! Somebody flagged the RED flag during this freaking race! Good job!
ACTING
Jason Statham (Jensen) solidified his “action man” status with this role. Charismatic, buff, intense… the man owned! Tyrese Gibson (Machine Gun Joe) made for a groovy villain via his snarls and his imposing presence. Loved to hate to love him. Nathalie Martinez (Case)…wow… what can I say, dame looked yummyliscious and put out a charming show. Joan Allen (Hennessey) simply RULED! Sexy, vulgar and heartless… the dame was a hoot to watch and quite the turn-on! Ian McShane (Coach) brought in some comic relief via his likeable role.
T & A
The flick let me down in this department. If you’re going to be an exploitation flick…well… then…exploit dammit! Although hotties were in the house, tops stayed on and in a flick of this ilk that was a no-no. The ladies get brief male nudity and Statham shirtless…and yes…the mofo IS a Gym on two legs!
DIRECTING
Anderson helmed this celluloid napalm with flair, a striking visual style, oomph and balls! His car chases were incredibly engaging, the many stunts wowed me and they're was rarely a dull moment in sight. Props mate!
SOUNDTRACK
We’re treated to a lean, mean and aggressive score!
BOTTOM LINE
Think THE RUNNING MAN with cars and a F*CK YOU attitude! My kind of movie! DEATH RACE was what it was and proud of it at that! A big budget, use them if you have them exploitation flick filled with fire power, crashes, fist fights and babes. Yup I had a grin on my face throughout. It should also be said: when's the last time you witnessed an Oscar nominee (Joan Allen that is) deliver a line like this one: "Okay cocksucker... don't you f*ck with me!"? FREAKING GOLD! Granted, I could've done without the shaky cam and the last frames underwhelmed me, but on the whole, if macho, brutal, loud, babe filled and fast paced films talk to ya... give DEATH RACE a holler!
BULL'S EYE
In 1976 a controversial arcade game called DEATH RACE was released. It was inspired by the original DEATH RACE 2000.

Before Universal took teh film over (it was at Paramount), the DEATH RACE remeake was gonna be called DEATH RACE 3000 and was about a race around the world type spiel.

Tom Cruise was gonna be the lead in Death race 3000.

Now that I think about it, this re-imagining could've almost acted as a prequel to DEATH RACE 2000 plot wise. It sets up the race that the original would expand on. If they hadn't used use some of the same character names from teh original that is.

RACE TO THE DEATH RACE OFFICIAL SITE HERE

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9:58PM on 08/31/2009
One hell of an entertaining ride from start to finish! Jason Statham is bad @ss once again and Joan Allen plays a good cold b!tch and was entertaining watching her be one. This movie is very fast paced with over the top action and violence, it will keep you on the edge of your seat! Though it really doesn't have anything in terms of a story but it makes up for that believe me, and I also thought it had a kick @ss ending. Overall if you are fans of movies like The Condemned or the original you
One hell of an entertaining ride from start to finish! Jason Statham is bad @ss once again and Joan Allen plays a good cold b!tch and was entertaining watching her be one. This movie is very fast paced with over the top action and violence, it will keep you on the edge of your seat! Though it really doesn't have anything in terms of a story but it makes up for that believe me, and I also thought it had a kick @ss ending. Overall if you are fans of movies like The Condemned or the original you will definitely get a kick out of this. Recommended!
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+0
7:42AM on 03/16/2009
It had some enjoyable action moments throughout, but I never really found myself caring who would win, and some of the quick cut editing make the races too distracting to watch.
It had some enjoyable action moments throughout, but I never really found myself caring who would win, and some of the quick cut editing make the races too distracting to watch.
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+0
11:24AM on 08/23/2008

Good Times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a blast. Arrow hit this one on the head. His review says it all so won't go into a speal about it.

Just a great time at the cinema.
What a blast. Arrow hit this one on the head. His review says it all so won't go into a speal about it.

Just a great time at the cinema.
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8:04PM on 08/21/2008

bring it on

That's goog enough for me. If The Arrow says it's gourmet, I'm eatin it.
That's goog enough for me. If The Arrow says it's gourmet, I'm eatin it.
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