COMPANY: Moonlighting Films
RUNTIME: 105 mins
PLOT: Convicted cop-killer Carl Lucas, aka Frankenstein, is a superstar driver in the brutal prison yard demolition derby known as Death Race, and is only one victory away from winning freedom for himself and his pit crew when the Powers That Be decide to change up the rules, as well as the race location.
REVIEW: Death Race: Inferno marks only my second review here, so a lot of you don’t know who I am. My name is Michael Banno and I'm a close friend of Jeffrey Long, the owner of The B-Movie Shelf blog. Many of you have probably read my review for Age of the Hobbits, AKA Clash of the Empires, so we’re not complete strangers. But considering that you do not know me personally, let me make one thing clear: I am a very big fan of the Death Race movies. I went to the theaters to see the first movie opening weekend, and bought the second movie as soon as it was released on BluRay. I know exactly what they are - They are big-budget B-movie action hits. So it is no surprise that when Death Race: Inferno was announced, I squealed like a schoolgirl. Sadly, money is an issue for me right now so I was not able to buy the movie upon release, however thanks to my recent acquisition of a Netflix account, I discovered that Death Race 3 was available on there. So naturally, it became my movie to watch for today and I decided to type this review up since Jeffrey hadn't yet covered it on here.
It begins with the takeover of the company that started Death Race. It then goes on to tell you about the story leading up to the beginning of the movie, and the events that have transpired since the ending of Part 2. Frankenstein ( Luke Goss) has made quite a name for himself; He is now quite a celebrity, having won four Death Races. But it looks like something is in the works as the new owner of Death Race wants to franchise it out to the world, and he wants to start it off with a bang. Now Frankenstein and his pit crew are being shipped off to an African prison where they must do battle with one old enemy and a group of new enemies. It’s a new race, and a new set of dangers as Frankenstein tries to keep himself and his crew alive to see the finish line.
Paul W.S. Anderson has, in my opinion, made a good name for himself when it comes to making some movies that I like. He made the first Mortal Kombat, the Resident Evil franchise, and is responsible for the Death Race franchise (he directed the first and has produced the second and third). In my opinion, that is a very good track record, as I love the majority of all those movies. So how does Death Race 3 hold up?
First up comes the story. I personally thought that the story was as straightforward as you can get - Someone buys out the company that was responsible for the franchise out Death Race, and makes a big deal out of Frankenstein. But Frankenstein has other plans and thus cue endless mayhem until finish, where a nice little twist comes into play. Technically we should know how certain things come to be due to the fact that this and the previous movie are prequels to the first, but I still felt little surprised when everything was revealed at the end. For such a simple and straight-forward movie, I felt the surprises throughout (especially at the end) were very well done and unexpected.
The action was quite well-shot and very entertaining, and there was not a single moment throughout the long runtime where I was bored. You have vehicular roadrage action, yet hand to hand combat, and even some good old-fashioned gunplay from time to time. The car violence may seem a little familiar when watching all three movies within quick succession, as it doesn't really do much in that area that we haven't already seen in the other three movies, but as long as I was entertained, which I very much was, then that’s the main thing for me.
The acting I thought was actually pretty good. Seeing as how this is a direct to video movie, I wasn't expecting like an Oscar winner here, but I was still pleasantly surprised with what we did get. I know that may seem like a cliché statement to make during a review for a movie like Death Race 3, but let’s face it: It’s true. Everyone seems to be really into their roles and having a blast on-set. I personally liked seeing Robin Shou back, as he is a regular in the franchise by this point and I've been a fan of him ever since his Mortal Kombat days. Also, the amazingly beautiful girls like Tanit Phoenix was a huge plus - there was definitely some good eye candy on display here.
I would probably talk about the visual effects a bit more right around here, but I don’t think there was much in a film like this except for maybe some pyrotechnics and the amazing car stunts. And for what it’s worth, I thought those were really well done, and you definitely saw some very big explosions throughout the film. Whether it was flipping cars or falling off cliffs, the stunt actors here had their work cut out for them, and luckily it all came across great on-screen.
In the end, I must say that it was well worth the wait and should be a very pleasing entry in the series for the fans. Leading up to it, I wasn’t quite sure what they were going to give us, but what we ultimately got exceeded my expectations, and brings everything full circle, making this quite the fun little trilogy. Death Race: Inferno deserves its place in the rebooted Death Race franchise, and hopefully eventually in my BluRay collection.
10/10 rooms in the Psych Ward