DEATH RACE 2 (2011)


Death Race 2 (2011)

Actors: Luke Goss, Lauren Cohan, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames, Tanit Phoenix
Director: Roel Reiné
Writers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Tony Giglio
Producers: Alan Shearer, Greg Holstein, Jeremy Bolt, Mike Elliott, Paul W.S. Anderson
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 1
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Universal Studios
DVD Release Date: January 18, 2011


A pointless prequel to an unnecessary remake . . .

If you’ll recall the 2008 Death Race was a remake of the 1975 so-shite-it’s-good “classic” Death Race 2000 starring Keith Carradine and Sylvester Stallone (!).

The remake, which starred Jason Statham, completely missed the point on what made the original ‘Seventies movies so memorable in the first place. In that movie racers scored points by running over as many pedestrians as they could in addition to writing off their contestants as well as being the first over the finishing line. The Statham remake was Death Race . . . on a track. No pedestrians but loads of muscle cars armed to the teeth with mounted machine guns and flame throwers.

It was an okayish testosterone-drenched movie. The sort of thing you’d rent and get your buddies over for some beers - if they were of the sort who checked out every single Fast & the Furious movie ever made. (Quick: just how many of them are there?) Death Race 2 is more of the same and the chances are that if you liked the Statham flick you’d be okay with this one too even though it also misses the point and blows an opportunity to make something more memorable. You see, Death Race 2 is a prequel and the truth is that like most prequels, except maybe for Godfather Part II, it is pretty much on the pointless side.

Ever wondered how they came up with the concept of the races featured in the 2008 Death Race?

Nope, we weren’t either. (We suspect that it involved a lot of business meetings.) We wanted to get round to the pedestrian squashing bit (think they own the road, do they?!) but Death Race 2 is the sort of franchise entry that believes that fans would like nothing more than to watch the first movie again.

So cue more endless car chases and prison movie clichés. But things are worse this time round. The budget is lower and the movie was filmed in South Africa for much cheaper.

When one thinks about it the 2010 World Cup must have done miracles for the South African tourism industry. When they were handed a below par script like the one for Death Race 2 the several “name” actors such as Sean Bean (most of whose dialogue are unintelligible), Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo were probably thinking “holiday in Cape Town” rather than “quality entertainment.”

The movie goes to some lengths to disguise its South African shooting locations, even going to the bother of importing some left-hand drive muscle cars. (In South Africa they drive on the left-hand side like in the UK.) Dodgy accents aside it however blows it all in one shot which prominently features Table Mountain, which is so iconic that it is like catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in a movie that is supposed to be set in New York! Geographically challenged teens who watch more episodes of Top Gear than anything on National Geographic probably won’t even notice though . . .

WORTH IT? Death Race 2 is the sort of movie in which they cast the female cast members by paging through an issue of FHM magazine. The stunts and car chases are more spectacular than you’d think, even though they carry on for too long at stretches. If this sounds like your thing then give it a shot, but under no circumstances is this a date movie . . .

RECOMMENDATION: If you do watch it, have lots of beer handy.

NOTE: Some in-jokes. The evil corporation in Death Race 2 is one half of the evil corporation featured in Aliens. Sean Bean watches a scene from the original Death Race 2000 on television in one scene, which means that he is better off than anyone watching this movie . . .



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