After the huge success of the first remake, Death Race 2 is actually a prequel exploring the faith of the first Frankenstein car driver. You might remember him from the opening sequence of the 2008 remake. It’s really strange that something that’s a straight-to-DVD can be this entertaining. Especially with Luke Goss starring. I still don’t get why he’s such a popular B movie star, but I guess that’s just me. On the other hand, he was quite solid here but I loved the rest of the cast. Sean Bean, Ving Rhames and beautiful Tanit Phoenix were all great. Plus you’ve the opportunity to see Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead in a totally different role.
Death Race 2 is an unapologetically sleazy, action-packed racing movie. Simplistic and with a straight-forward storytelling it’s fun to watch. It doesn’t pretend that it’s something else relying on sturdy stunts and decent special effects. The characters are one-dimensional, dialogue cliched and machismo is oozing from every element of this movie. All this seems very familiar and is building on a narrative established some thirty years. Visually, it leans heavily on the remake, trying to achieve the same quality on a budget. Going back in time, if you compared this movie with Death Race , the sequel explains actions and motivation of the characters. The prequel thing is now somewhat of a trend so it’s not surprising we got this one.
Carl ‘Luke’ Lucas is an experienced driver working for a local mafia boss Markus Kane. After a botched heist he ends up in the Terminal Island prison, appropriately titled since it holds its Death Races. They are a brutal and violent races, where prisoners are encouraged to race against one another and win by any means they see fit. Luke soon finds himself behind the wheel, racing for his life, but also on a lookout for Kane’s revenge.
The biggest selling point of Death Race 2 are the cars and the very race itself. They all look pretty sturdy and menacing with all kinds of additional equipment. Basically, this movie will meet your expectations for a budget sequel. And perhaps, just perhaps, exceed them. To save on money they went for the whole Running Man theme, spending a lot of time on prisoner fights. This element could have been better but what’s done is done. Once you see get hooked on the whole modified cars racing and shooting at each other theme, this is the best fix. Over the years, there’ve been numerous sequels of various quality. So thread carefully. Enjoy.
Director: Roel Reiné
Cast: Luke Goss, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo, Lauren Cohan, Tanit Phoenix
Fun Facts: Frankenstein’s Monster – A five-speed manual Fifth-generation Ford Mustang armed with dual M134 Miniguns for offense, and a smoke screen, napalm, and oil slick for defense, as well as a 6-inch-thick (150 mm) detachable steel plate on the rear bumper called “The Tombstone.”