Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.
Convicted cop-killer Carl Lucas, aka Frankenstein, is a superstar driver in the brutal prison yard demolition derby known as Death Race. Only one victory away from winning freedom for himself and his pit crew.
Frank Martin puts the driving gloves on to deliver Valentina, the kidnapped daughter of a Ukranian government official, from Marseilles to Odessa on the Black Sea. En route, he has to contend with thugs who want to intercept Valentina's safe delivery and not let his personal feelings get in the way of his dangerous objective.
Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei's trail.
When his mentor is taken captive by a disgraced Arab sheik, a killer-for-hire is forced into action. His mission: kill three members of Britain's elite Special Air Service responsible for the death of his sons.
In 2012, amid economic chaos and high unemployment, Americans watch by the millions as criminals with life sentences race armored cars on Terminal Island. Two-thirds of the combatants die but the winner may earn his freedom. On the day he loses his job, steelworker Jensen Ames is arrested for his wife's murder. Sent to Terminal Island, he's offered an out by the steely and manipulative Warden Hennessey - race as the popular mask-wearing (but now dead) champion, Frankenstein, or rot in prison. Jensen makes the bargain. As the three-stage race approaches, he realizes that the whole thing may be a set up - can an anonymous man behind a mask get revenge and win his release? Written by
Definitely better than the ridiculous "Righteous Kill", that we had the doubtful honor to view today also, at the same press screening, here in Bucharest, Romania.
"Death Race" is a honest to God action movie, without any bigger-than-life pretensions. The script follows correctly an old tested and tried recipe, everything is at its place, and although you can easily plot out the whole course since the beginning, somewhat even this sounds good - you simply have the guilty pleasure of savoring again a story that you know from dozens of other movies.
The influences from the racing video games are explicit, and well mastered - me, I fully felt as while playing "Death Rally". Even certain aerial shots are obvious quotes from the computer game imagery. The narrative is nervous and thrilling, the effects professional, the violence degree precisely balanced. Maybe the main virtue of the movie is the cinematography, with admirable chromatic and plastic values. All in all, what it promises, it delivers: a cheap show, well done.
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