Death Race 2 review (DVD)

Death Race 2 is a shoot-em-up car game for people who don’t like computer games or don’t have any friends to play multi-player with. It’s ultimately akin to watching someone playing video games for 90 minutes, fun for a bit.

It’s the prequel to 2008’s Death Race (itself a reinterpretation of Death Race 2000) and gives the origins of the Frankenstein character, a racer with an iron mask. Death Race 2 actually starts with Death Match, a televised series where prisoners on Terminal Island are pitted against each other in fights to the death or submission. It’s only a need to boost TV ratings and the handy fact that Terminal Island has a car scrap yard, where cars would normally become weapons, that pushes the competition into a Death Race format.

The problem is that the Death Match is the better spectacle. When the prisoners have to shoot/flame-throw or simply stab/hit each other to death there’s a bit of grizzle and you empathise with the characters. Stick them into armoured cars whizzing around an island and any emotional attachment withers.

Luke Goss is as you’d expect from an 80s pop star in the lead role of Carl Lucas, a getaway driver who gets sentenced to Terminal Island when a bank job goes wrong. Whilst his dialogue is kept to phrases such as “no way”, “you gotta" be kidding” and “hold on” his avatar for the game version will probably be more rounded.

Plot wise it’s conventional, Markus Kane (Bean) is the bank-heist planning employer of Lucas, who pays anyone within ten miles of the island to ensure Lucas can’t rat on him and Douglas Weyland (Rhames) is the network owner determined to control the market share of viewings at any cost.

Death Race 2 takes the audience from A to B with plenty of explosions. It comes as part of a Universal straight-to-DVD ‘origins’ series where films are given a back-story. With this in mind, it may well appeal to completist fans of obscure titles. The average viewer will more than likely forget about this whilst watching it.

EXTRAS ★★★★ Deleted scenes; a deleted shots montage; The Race Begins: the Evolution of Death Race (interviews with cast, crew and director); Cheating Death: the Stunts of Death Race 2 (includes lots of interviews with stunt teams and coordinators), Fast Cars and Firearms: the Cars of Death Race 2; a feature documentary with director Roel Reine.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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