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Jason Statham
Ian McShane
Jacob Vargas
Max Ryan
Tyrese Gibson
Joan Allen.
Paul WS Anderson.
Running Time
TBC minutes

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Death Race
Jason Statham rewrites the Highway Code

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When her star driver is injured, Hennessey (Allen) - prison warden and creator of new viewing sensation Death Race - has NASCAR star Ames (Statham) framed for murder. She offers him a deal: win the race and he’ll gain his freedom. Or die trying…

Death Race
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Paul W. S. Anderson has been trying to bring his remake of Death Race 2000 to the big screen for 13 years - during which time much has changed for the British director. Notably, he stopped being plain old ‘Paul Anderson’ and sprouted initials, as a result of that other Paul Anderson running around, directing the odd masterpiece here and there. And somewhere along the way, PWSA - as nobody calls him - wasted the promise he showed in his early flicks to wallow in a state of arrested development, pumping out geek wishfulfilment flicks based on video-games and comic books.

At first glance, Death Race is another one of those projects - a remake-cum-adolescent fantasy - but unlike, say, Resident Evil and Alien Vs. Predator, Anderson delivers an unashamedly brutal actioner that pushes all the right guys’ flick buttons, combining hot chicks, hotter cars, enormous guns, and Joan Allen saying the word “cocksucker” into a preposterous but ready-made guilty pleasure.

The original Death Race was a satirical schlockfest in which David Carradine and a young Sylvester Stallone raced across America mowing down pedestrians for points. Anderson actually pitches this movie as a prequel of sorts, exploring the origins of Frankenstein (Statham, in the Carradine role) and Machine-Gun Joe (Tyrese, following Stallone) and, indeed, the concept of the death race itself.

By transplanting the action from the open road to a dank, maximum-security prison run by Allen’s Warden Hennessey, a ball-busting cross between a Stepford Wife and Maggie Thatcher, Anderson combines prison movie (The Camshaft Redemption, anyone?) with revenge flick. And while it’s one-dimensional, overcrowded with walking clichés (all hail Ian McShane, bringing a bedraggled charm to the role of Kindly Old Lag), and bereft of the original’s satire, the locale change allows Anderson to shift the focus of the event from a meandering affair to a concise three-lap race, during which drivers unleash guns, oil and even napalm upon their rivals.

It’s in the race sequences that Anderson shows why he was willing to wait so long to make the movie. The adherence to practical stunts results in some impressive chases, punctuated by gunfire, fireballs, rolls and spectacular collisions. They’re also extraordinarily violent, as drivers (and their gratuitously female navigators) are splattered at 70mph, ripped to shreds by gunfire or buzzsaws, or atomised by huge explosions. It’s not called Death Race for nothing. But Anderson’s B-movie bombast wouldn’t work nearly as well without its leading man, who’s utterly at home with this sort of material. In a role that had originally been earmarked for producer Tom Cruise, Statham handles the driving and punching with ease, while more than holding his own in the acting stakes, growling his lines at Allen as if he’d just set fire to the script and eaten the ashes. Statham has threatened to become a genuine lead man for a while now - he is the making of Death Race.

It’s nothing more than an enjoyable, ridiculously macho B-movie romp, but it’s Anderson’s best movie since the underrated Event Horizon. Perhaps, at long last, he’s starting to find his - yep - top gear.

Reviewed by Chris Hewitt

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Death Race
Empire Star Rating

Death Race Review

Mindless, violent, and lightning-paced, Death Race is little more than an empty action romp. An entertaining one at best. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 21:36, 07 May 2012 | Report This Post

Better than AVP...

Loved the 'stupid space odyssey' you guys tossed in there... But this film, was actually hard to believe that it was one of Paul Anderson, having watched AVP all my life, thinking bad thoughts about him. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by YouWillBeUnprepared at 06:40, 26 April 2012 | Report This Post

Entertaining guy movie lacking certain substance

Death Race is the perfect movie for males to watch with their male friends, with well-filmed car chases and enjoyable action which is sure to satisfy anyone's adrenaline thirst. It doesn't hurt that the writing is actually quite good (for this type of movie, of course) and Statham actually turns in a good performance. The movie's attempts at sentimentality are rather horrible, though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 15:28, 07 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Er, no, not good.

Bored rigid the other night and watched this on Sky movies, and was pleasently surprised. OK, actings ropey, dialogue is poor and Joan Allen (?) looks like her face as been manufactured by Hasbro, but, neverless, its a decent Saturday night brain-switch off film!  Full of mindless crashes, smashes, fist fights, hot chick torso/ cleavage shots and Staham getting his top off for the ladies!  Not bad 3/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dezwalker at 17:21, 26 August 2009 | Report This Post

RE: Er, no, not good.

For a remake of "Death Race 2000", this is actually nothing like the original. Instead it affords Jason Statham the chance to growl and glare his way through every single prison cliche imaginable. At least Joan Allen is on hand for a little touch of class in a film that doesn't really have any. Lots of mayhem, lots of incoherent action, some good stunts, not a trace of originality. In short, a typical Paul W.S. Anderson film. Why doesn't he just make a video game instead? That's what most of hi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 00:04, 23 August 2009 | Report This Post


Anderson's best film in ages. Great stunts, weak story but damn good fun. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 12:28, 04 May 2009 | Report This Post


Not a big fan of Paul WS Anderson's previous films but decided to give this one a go on DVD and actually enjoyed it alot.  The final race was a big let down after the carnage that had went before but apart from that I thought it was great fun. ... More

Posted by mackey at 18:56, 01 March 2009 | Report This Post


I enjoyed this more than i was expecting too a whole lot of fun and the action was good   7/10 ... More

Posted by filmburner30 at 12:00, 05 February 2009 | Report This Post


Loses the spirt of the original, but is luck to be saved by the Stath who just does what he does best. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MathewRed at 21:59, 04 February 2009 | Report This Post


Wasn't expecting alot from this but it was better than i though tit would be. Just a load of old nonsense really, but enjopyable enough over your head nonsense. Could have taken a few leaves out of the originals book though e.g racing through streets and mowing down innocent civilians. Good to see Roger Corman's name on screen for something new. Come on Roger pull something new out of your hat for us. ... More

Posted by kargon at 10:21, 21 January 2009 | Report This Post

Re-makes or re-makes in production seem to be 10 a penny at the moment. With Robocop and even Short Circuit on the horizon the writers strike seems to have given Hollywood only one route to go and so we wait with some trepidation to see whether they goof them up or beyond all expectation make them better. The original Death Race (with the guy from Kung Fu and a young Stallone) had to be one of the campest pieces of cinema this side of Priscilla. Focusing on a race that stretched across Americ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gepete80 at 10:46, 23 December 2008 | Report This Post


Saw this on Saturday and even though I went in with zero expectations I still feel robbed. What. A. Load. Of. Sh*t.   It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Paul Anderson and with each film he hits a new low for me, I'd honestly hoped AVP would be his last film because IMO he managed to further f*ck up 2 franchises (yes, even worse than Predator 2 and Alien: Resurrection) and again proved that he's out of his class on virtually every project he tackles.   "Virtually every ... More

Posted by Marwood at 09:23, 20 October 2008 | Report This Post

Welcome everyone to the most ready made guilty pleasure of the year so far! It's basically Mortal Kombat with cars, better acting, more money and more gore. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rezapocmk3 at 22:22, 19 October 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

L: robbiecollin Loved it. I had rock bottom expectations because of PWSA's terrible track record but this just seemed to strike the magic balance - YES it's crass, over-the-top, lowest common denomiator shoite, but it's clearly been made with affection and the Stath plays it with just the right amount of tongue placed in his absurdly muscular cheek. The unspeakable truth: this film deserves four stars. And in all honesty, I didn't see the outcome of that final race coming. Yes ho... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blackduck at 13:46, 07 October 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

Loved it. I had rock bottom expectations because of PWSA's terrible track record but this just seemed to strike the magic balance - YES it's crass, over-the-top, lowest common denomiator shoite, but it's clearly been made with affection and the Stath plays it with just the right amount of tongue placed in his absurdly muscular cheek. The unspeakable truth: this film deserves four stars. And in all honesty, I didn't see the outcome of that final race coming. Yes honestly. Although mayb... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robbiecollin at 16:50, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

It's basically Fast and furious with better acting. Sure there was the scope to make a more intelligent movie in a Robocop style. But the movie works just fine as a dumb action flick. There is enough fun to be had to ignore the movies plot holes and dodogy scripting. Rock solid 3/5 ... More

Posted by blackduck at 13:14, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

Saw this last week and here's my two pence.   Being a PWSA (only) fan I looked forward to the film a great deal.  Some great early screening reviews and some surprising good reviews from respected magazines got me going. Oh and Statham was in it.   Didnt disappoint at all.   As mentioned above the film is a mash up of Fast and The Furious, The Running Man and a bit of Gladiator thrown in.  But the overall visual tone of the film harks bac... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kenada_woo at 21:26, 03 October 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

I haven't seen 'Death Race 2000' and don't much want too after watching the high-octane, poorly thought-out, muscled-up remake. I love Jason Statham movies and I got what I expected from that department but the general thing was a waste of 100 mins of my valuable student time and an even bigger waste of the near-on tenner I paid to watch it. Seemed like it had taken 'The Fast and Furious' and TV's 'Prison Break', mixed the two, missed out the most crucial part of the storyline (Statham and... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Goodfella at 14:22, 02 October 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

acee all know a remake of that 70’s exploitation classic “Death Race 2000” was always on the cards. While it’s great concept and satire can’t save its dated low budget. It was time for a make over curtsy of Paul W.S Anderson. While we know it's not the decent Paul Anderson, Paul W.S is not ashamed to make films for the audience it doesn't come as a surprise that we have a film with the brains taking out of it. So add in some guns, oil, fireballs and hot chicks and you h... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Braveheartben at 13:54, 02 October 2008 | Report This Post

Very different in style from it's more colourful and humorous predecessor, this is a real 'sixpack and curry' movie, often aiming for the lowest common demoninator, with the slow motion scene of the arrival of the scantily clad 'navigators' a real low point, although there's the slight feeling of send up. The races are brilliantly staged and quite thrilling, which is the main point really, and most of it seems real as apposed to being CGI, which is a big plus. Jason Statham once again is a ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 20:11, 01 October 2008 | Report This Post

Death Race

The action sequences, which is where this movie excells, and has a frenetic pace about them and there's enough gory deaths (of which we get endless replays of) and bullets to keep the us lads entertained. But , the one big hole in the plot - if it supposed to be based in a future with massive unemployment - how do 70million viewers afford the pay per view fee to watch the Death Race ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 12:38, 01 October 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

Great fun from start to finish and flies along at a fair old pace.  The car stunts are great, the big rig sequence a particular highlight, and the deaths gruesome enough to do the concept justice.  Joan Allen does seem like she's been cut and pasted from a different film altogether (aside from one really bad line of dialogue).  It's a shame her eventual comupance (sp?) isn't as dramatic as the film sets it up to be but it does seem to have a nice nod to Ian McShane's Lovejoy char... More

Posted by Gazdance at 19:36, 30 September 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Death Race

Saw this Saturday and it was quite enjoyable. Mostly because of the Stath though, what a fucking badass. Down and dirty entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kazuya at 10:18, 30 September 2008 | Report This Post

RE: okay

Very fun car chases but surprisingly boring when not in the car, Death Race has enough moments to make it worth a watch, preferably drunk as fuck, and is Anderson's best film though that is not saying much. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by badassmofo at 20:52, 29 September 2008 | Report This Post

RE: okay

disposable, entertaining tosh   not a bad way to kill 2 hours   Never seen death race 2000, worth a punt??? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Manny at 16:27, 29 September 2008 | Report This Post

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