Death Race (Unrated Edition) (2008)

Actors: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Tyrese Gibson, Ian McShane, Natalie Martinez
Paul W.S. Anderson
Paul W.S. Anderson, Charles B. Griffith, Ib Melchior, Robert Thom
Adam Merims, Dennis E. Jones, Jeremy Bolt
AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
English, French, Spanish
1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio:
Number of discs:
Universal Studios
DVD Release Date:
December 21, 2008
Run Time:
105 minutes



This over-the-top remake of the 'Seventies cult Roger Corman flick is as guilty a pleasure as you're likely to find.

With the U.S. economy in collapse and gladiatorial blood sports on the rise, the corporate forces running the penal system hit upon a brilliant notion. They rig hot rods with machine guns, place condemned prisoners behind the wheel, and let them strafe their way around a track for the chance to earn their freedom.

As a satire, Anderson's crude swipes at our current economic woes never reflect the courage of his convictions. It also loses a great deal of its predecessor's soul - it doesn't even have joyful bits of naughtiness like Euthanasia Day and if you don't have Euthanasia Day, you really don't have Death Race, do you?

Still, Death Race is supposed to revel in meaningless sadism. It's supposed to be cheap and tacky and brazenly exploitative. Complaining about all that is like critiquing Yellow Submarine for being full of Beatles songs. Death Race is exactly what its creators wanted it to be and exactly what fans of quick, dirty thrills expect.

THE DISC: The producers apparently put the Death Race DVD together with the intention of maximizing marketing potential and minimizing cost. Only one disc is included, and the bulk of it is taken up with a ballyhooed "unrated" cut alongside the theatrical version. There's about six additional minutes of material included -unremarkable, but evincing the same cackling misanthropy that makes the rest of the film such a hoot. That doesn't leave much room for many other extras: just a pair of behind-the-scenes docs totaling about 30 minutes and a fitfully interesting audio track from Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. Those looking for anything more have clearly come to the wrong movie.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The original running time was 105 minutes. The running time of the unrated cut is 111 minutes.

- Rob Vaux


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