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Death Race 2

Getaway driver Carl "Luke" Lucas is arrested after a robbery for his crime boss Markus Kane goes wrong. As his accomplices are robbing the bank, two officers casually enter the building. Luke tells them to abort, but they refuse; Luke intervenes, but it results in the death of one of the three accomplices. Luke shoots and kills one of the officers and dumps off his accomplices in order to fulfill Markus's wishes. In doing so, Luke is eventually captured by the police following a high-speed chase and sentenced to prison. Six months later, Luke is transferred to Terminal Island.

Death Race 2


Terminal Island is a private prison under the control of the Weyland Corporation, which hosts the Death Match, a televised pay-per-view competition where two dangerous convicts are chosen and then forced to fight to the death or submission. The prisoners are given access to weapons or defense items to use during the fight by stepping on a marked plate in the arena. Luke meets the men who eventually become his pit crew in the Death Race: Lists, who annoys him by over-analyzing everything, Goldberg, and Rocco. The host of the Death Match is September Jones, a former Miss Universe who lost her crown due to allegations of having a sexual relationship with all of its judges. She now works for Weyland Corp to create profit from the pay-per-view subscribers of the Death Match.

Markus puts a bounty of $1 million on Luke's head and convinces some of the prisoners to kill him. Meanwhile, Jones comes up with a plan to boost their profits by converting the Death Match into a "Death Race", where the contestants will have to race over days to win each match. The person who manages to win five races will be released from prison, originally credited as Weyland's idea. Luke joins the race, during which other prisoners try to kill him to earn Markus' bounty. The female convicts are brought back to play navigator for each racer, and Katrina is paired with Luke.

During the second race, Luke intervenes in an altercation between two other racers, and saves 14K, who is a member of the Triads. As a result, 14K claims to be indebted to Luke. Later in the same race, Luke's car - which was sabotaged by one of his pit crew members - crashes after being hit with a heat seeker missile fired by Big Bill (who is later killed by his navigator after he accidentally killed his pit crew); Luke's pit crew arrives and tries to save him, but it is too late and everybody is led to believe that Luke is dead. In reality, he survives with extensive scarring to his face. He joins the race as the new character "Frankenstein," with a mask to hide his identity. As the last race begins, a Triad assassin sent by 14K raids Markus's mansion and executes Markus as a favor to Luke. Lists kills Luke's pit crew member Rocco who tampered with Luke's car, and Luke kills September by running her over with his car, before he races with the other competitors.

In 1975, Roger Corman produced "Death Race 2000," a subversive science fiction satire where David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone race customized muscle cars across the fascist America of the then-future and score points by running people over. Babies are worth 70 points; old people in wheelchairs are worth 100. The movie rattled around the drive-in circuit for years, eventually becoming Corman's most successful film. I saw "Death Race 2000" as a second feature when I was way too young to see Rocky Balboa squishing a guy's head under his steel belted radials. This probably explains a lot.

But let's not be too hard on plucky little "Death Race 2" and its fleet of nitro-powered death machines equipped with Gatling guns mounted onto their hoods. Most of the thrills here are delivered the old-fashioned way with stuntmen rolling cars and teams of pyro experts blowing up half of Cape Town, South Africa (standing in for Los Angeles). Sure, there's still that required scene of a slow motion Luke Goss walking in front of a wall of fire via green screen, but when CGI does rear its high-def head, it's mostly to augment the real-world destruction of crumple zones pushed well past their breaking points.

"Death Race 2" takes place in the future, but unlike "Death Sport" and its radiation-scarred Year 3000, this movie's future is probably only three or four months away. After coverage of a prison riot on Terminal Island does monster ratings, September Jones, a disgraced Miss America turned newscaster with gravity-resistant boobs, convinces privatized prison CEO Weyland (Ving Rhames) to produce a reality show where convicts fight to the death. "That hatred that your inmates have is pure," Jones purrs, "it can't be duplicated." The result is "Death Match," "the most violent, most disturbing, most watched program in human history." But still, no babies are killed.

After killing a cop during a botched bank heist, getaway driver Carl Lucas (Goss) ends up on Terminal Island where he quickly befriends a roly-poly nerd named Lists (Frederick Koehler), whose job it is to spout off a steady stream of expository dialog, and Goldberg, "the last Mexican Jew," played by a frequently shirtless Danny Trejo. Even in the unrated version, we see much more Trejo's bare breasts than anyone else's, although the live audience for the death matches includes a good number of ladies from some nearby all-strippers facility. Eventually, the ratings for "Death Match" start to dip and "Death Race" is born with the prisoners racing around in Deadly Dodge Rams and weaponized Trans-Ams in order to win their freedom.

Unencumbered by character development or story logic, "Death Race 2" moves almost effortlessly from bloody death matches to fiery death races with never a dull moment. Director Roel Reiné puts together some solid action sequences just as he did in "The Marine 2," another straight-to-DVD follow-up (and my first Salon straight-to-DVD review) that's better than it has any right to be. Reiné's inability to just mail these things in will make him king of the straight-to-DVD sequels if he keeps this up. Jason Statham doesn't touch this movie with a 10-foot kendo stick, but Sean Bean (Boromir from "Lord of the Rings") shows up as a Cockney crime lord. To make things even more meta, in one scene Bean watches a clip from the original "Death Race 2000" where Carradine plows into doctors and nurses. Statham was too busy making "The Mechanic," a remake of a Charles Bronson assassin flick that'll hopefully begat a straight-to-DVD sequel directed by Roel Reiné in three years.

A former Miss Universe who was stripped of her crown after having sexual relations with all five judges, Jones moves on to become a weather girl, and then news reporter for Weyland Broadcasting. One day, she films a prison riot that breaks out at Terminal Island. When later brought to Mr. Weyland, who coincidentally is also the owner of the penitentiary, due to the public relations nightmare that her footage caused, she brings up the sensational ratings that it received upon broadcast. She goes on to say that people are tired of fake violence, and strikes a deal with the man to have prisoners fight to the death in a makeshift arena as a television program called "Death Match". Herself the executive producer, Jones secretly meddles with the game by denying prisoners to access to certain weapons via a control panel, in order to manipulate the the excitement of the spectacle.

Outraged at the rule that a prisoner can "submit" and evade death, it is not long at all before Jones begins searching for another fatal game that is more reliably a ratings booster. When the film's hero, Carl Lucas, is brought to the prison for a botched bank job, for which he was just the getaway driver but tragically wound up killing a police officer regardless, Jones catches a glimpse of his unsanctioned driving skills on the premises, which inspires her to form "Death Race".

Lucas manages to perform well in several races, but one of them leads to him being greatly disfigured. Jones demands that he keep racing however, threatening to have his girlfriend Katrina gang-raped if he doesn't. At the start of the next race, Jones kicks things off the announcement at the ground level as per usual. This time, however, Lucas quickly spins his car around and drives straight into Jones and kills her.

In the world's most dangerous prison, a new game is born: Death Race. The rules of this adrenaline-fueled blood sport are simple, drive or die. When repentant convict Carl Lucas discovers there's a price on his head, his only hope is to survive a twisted race against an army of hardened criminals and tricked-out cars.

I will always miss the depravity of the original films, but this is at least an interesting rendition of the death race world. Like if they are going to force me to watch backstories of people and create an origin for the death race then this is at least a bold attempt and I enjoyed following. Still nothing compared to the original or DeathRace 2050 but certainly the third best.

Some really cool moments overshadowed by lazy action filmmaking. "Death Race 2" loses a lot of what it promised to be only because it wants to achieve a certain ending, making a gigantic shift from who the characters are to who they should be when the film is over. It is a film that should have done more for the race instead of the origin story.

Death Race prep requires extreme training for what De Sena calls, the usual Death Race torture. Events for the 72-hour race are kept secret from competitors and have included pushing a 500-pound sled up a mountain, hauling buckets of gravel, and hours of chopping wood.

Death Race 3, the latest heart-pounding entry in the high-octane franchise, is currently filming in and around Cape Town, South Africa. In this all-new original feature film from Universal 1440 Entertainment, hardened criminals race for their freedom in vicious new vehicles and face-off in the ultimate blood sport, when the popular Death Race is transported across the globe to the unforgiving and rugged terrain of South Africa. Forced against his will to participate in this global TV spectacle, Frankenstein - the greatest Death Race driver of all time - takes on this ultimate challenge to not only save himself, but his pit crew as well. Inspired by Roger Corman's cult classic thrill ride, Death Race 3 marks the return of Luke Goss (Death Race 2, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Blade 2), Danny Trejo (Death Race 2, Machete, Sons of Anarchy), Ving Rhames (Death Race 2, Mission: Impossible franchise, Pulp Fiction), Frederick Koehler (Death Race 2, Lost), Robin Shou (Death Race 2, Mortal Kombat) and Tanit Phoenix (Death Race 2, Femme Fatales). Also, joining the action are Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible 2, Heist) and Hlubi Mboya (How to Steal 2 Million). 041b061a72


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