Although many tried their take on classic exploitation themes in the last couple of years, I haven't touched such miserable crap as "Death Race", even "Bitch Slap" was better. Pitching a classic story of New World Pictures, unforgettable "Death Race 200" (1975), directed by Paul Bartel, which cost $300.000 to produce, this new independent movie brought to the ground all that made the original such a cool piece of budget filmmaking. Let's recall that the oddball pruduced by Roger Corman became a sort of cult flick throughout the years bringing forward the idea of "future sports" genre (originally derived from 60's pulp science-fiction novels) and directly inspired such film masterpieces as "Mad Max" if we are to believe its creators.
The modern "version", starring Jason Statham, hunts for old school cheap thrills, but completely misses the point in a fervour of blowing up everything on the screen. This is actually one of these things putting me off modern action movies as you really need to microwave your brain first. While AIP and NWP B-flicks were low budget fantasies, which featured cheesy special effects and weird scripts, they followed so called Corman's formula embracing "action, sex and humour". Due to this peculiar mixture often involving hints of anti-establishment stance or even over the top plots involving leftist revolutionaries, embedded in context of the stories, they made the trick of operating on more than one level and survived the sad times, when drive-ins eventually became history forcing producers like Corman to go straight into VHS.
"Death Race" nicks the original story with Corman's official blessing (executive producer credit) putting it in 2012, while American economy collapses and millions of workers are laid off, which causes general havoc and provokes bloody riots. Main character, Jensen (Jason Statham) shares the pain as he's been kicked out as well and paid dime. But coming back home won't be smooth as he's wife gets brutally butchered and he appears to be framed into beaing a murderer. Convicted by the court he's transported to a corporate, maximum security prison (public prisons have been erased in favour of private prisons, operated by international corporations), where he faces inevitable death from hand of the inmates if he doesn't agree to take part in Death Race... as Frankenstein, the biggest hero of this sport, who just died after a fatal car crash.
And there it goes, folks! 95 minutes of violence, car chasing, violence, car chasing and more violence. I personally reached for this movie when saw Corman onboard, nevertheless got bored with it after half an hour. The reasons are plenty. First of all, it bears scarce to none resemblance to "Death Race 2000". Second of all, oldtimers' exploitation formula has been ditched completely. There's no nudity, sex or even occasional tits dancing, so forget about a real fun, guys. Dialogues are as dull as in the shittiest Hollywood blockbuster, this feeling of having them written by a computer program applies well. Political musings are not completely absent, but they're quickly munched by monster car chasing. In fact the only idea of pumping up the action is to bring some locomotive-car with superdestructive firepower (so fuckin' gross). Don't even bother to give it a try if you have a long watchlist to go through, it's just a waste of your precious time.