Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Death Race (2008)

By Reymundo Salao

The original movie; DEATH RACE 2000 was a B-movie; one of the best, excellently fermented B-movies to survive out of the 70's and 80's. It became a classic not only because it was very entertaining, but also because it was one of the earliest movies to tackle the subject matter of a dystopian future, and also serves as a sort of social satire. Now comes its remake entitled DEATH RACE, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Soldier, Event Horizon, Mortal Kombat) and stars Jason Statham. Because this movie is just a remake, of course, you don’t expect DEATH RACE to be more than a thrilling, hard-action thrill ride. But you will never regret watching it...especially if you’re a guy.

As the main protagonist, Jason Statham plays a masked man known as Frankenstein, a character played by David Carradine in the original Death Race 2000. In fact, Carradine's voice is heard in the first part of the movie as the "first" Frankenstein. Statham embodies what is now rare in the movieworld: a true action hero. Not the prettyboy crap other actors are made of. Statham's presence is always respected in the field of action, and in this movie, he seemed to have buffed himself just like one of the 300 Spartans, making your average heavy metal bodybuilder envious. Tyrese Gibson plays Machinegun Joe, which is the role played by Sylvester Stallone in the original version. Ian McShane plays the Coach. Joan Allen who used to play sweet frail pure ladylike roles plays the possessive and deliciously evil villainess Hennessey. But the best character in the movie is the babe; the charming Natalie Martinez as Case, actually, because after the carnage and the bloodlust, there’s still a beautiful foxy chick to look for in this movie.

Critics usually hate Paul W.S. Anderson, maybe because he only makes action movies (3 of them are video game adaptations) and some of them have been unsatisfactory. Sure, Anderson does tend to make lousy shots with the first Resident Evil movie and Alien vs Predator. But Anderson gets the job done and is true to the macho spirit of kick-ass action. He's like an imperfect son of John Carpenter, and a more practical version of Michael Bay. DEATH RACE is not deep, and there is a hole in the end part in terms of script and storyline. But aside from this mentioned, Anderson runs the movie smoothly with sound consistency, except for some few lapses in terms of storyline clarity and absence of character development. Despite such, the movie delivers what you expect from a "new millenia" remake of DEATH RACE: Twisted Metal Biting, Blood-splattering, gun-powder stenching action. This is a man's movie.

Do you know why I hate race movies? Do you know why I don’t like those Fast & the Furious movies? It’s because all they got are pretty boys who talk like disco-dancing brats obsessed with their cars and their love of racing. Do you know why I love DEATH RACE? Because here, the ones driving the cars are scarred, freaky-looking hooligans, and their cars are armed with gattling guns, RPGs, and napalm bombs. And on this movie, their concern is not just some dumb f%%k boyband vanity... it's coz they want to survive. For a movie that will burn the roads, DEATH RACE will show your nice ugly smiles, with a big fat thumb-up.

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