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DVD Review

DVD cover

Death Race 2


Starring: Luke Goss, Tanit Phoenix, Danny Trejo, Lauren Cohan, Robin Shou, Ving Rhames and Sean Bean
Universal Pictures International Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 27 December 2010

In the not too distant future, the United States economy is in decline and violent crime is spiralling out of control. In an attempt to regain power over the growing criminal population, a vast network of for-profit, private prisons has opened up. But rather than solving society’s problems they have created a lawless subculture run by gangs, killers and sociopaths...

By its very title you'd be forgiven for thinking that Death Race 2 was the sequel to Death Race (2008), which it isn't. Without spoiling too much, it's a prequel to the original Death Race movie, which itself was a remake of the 1975 movie Death Race 2000.

The film shows how the Death Race reality show came about - with the first half of the movie concentrating on the penal system of the future and the Death Match combat reality show - in which criminals fight each other to the death (or a submission). If you've seen Death Race then you'll probably enjoy what the director has done here - if you haven't then you'll probably wonder what the hell is going on.

Yet again I find myself complaining with the lack of respect (and trust) that DVD producers have for reviewers - why do they insist in treating us as potential criminals? Yet again we received a check disc which every ten minutes flashes up in the middle of the screen (for 30 seconds) the words "Property of Universal International Entertainment". This makes reviewing the movie next to impossible. It's a bit like a restaurant critic being expected to review a meal when the chef insists on adding additional food colourings and odd flavours to spoil the experience for them. It doesn't present the movie in the best possible light and is downright annoying when you're trying to get into the film.

None of the actors can be faulted, every single one of them turns in a perfect performance. What is an issue is the fact that the director is too much "in the moment" and too involved with the film (he openly admits in his audio commentary that he acts as both the director and the director of photography), that someone else needs to take a step back and reevaluate the movie. Didn't the editor point out to him that there are a few too many issues with badly constructed scenes (an example being the prison riot in which two inmates can clearly be seen doing the some of the worst fake fighting ever seen on the big screen).

Extras include Deleted Scenes (5 min, 48 sec - which includes a scene where one of Carl's teammates is seen tampering with the car); Deleted Scenes Montage (5 min, 43 sec with optional director's introduction, which is a montage of scenes cut to music. It includes different camera angles to the finished shot and behind the scenes footage cut to music); The Race Begins: The Evolution of the Death Race (6 min, 37 sec); Cheating Death: The Stunts of Death Race 2 (9 min, 39 sec); Fast Cars and Firearms: The Cars of Death Race 2 (7 min, 01 sec) and Director's Commentary.

I almost lost bladder control when I was confronted with the (I don't think ironic) warning to viewers that pops up at the end of the movie. This warns people not to try any of the dangerous stunt driving. I wonder why they didn't also add a warning about not attempting to rob a bank, shoot a cop, or fire a flame thrower at others...

All in all, for fans of the first movie this will add a lot to the back story. To others it may just feel a little weak. This would have received a higher score if it weren't for the annoying copyright warning that insisted in ruining the action from start to finish.


Nick Smithson

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