Last Sunday, my friend Janice talked me into seeing “Death Race,” a remake of the 1975 classic starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone.
Perhaps “classic” is a bit of a stretch. The original was considered cheeseball drive-in fare at the time of its release but has gained a measure of respectability over the years. And why shouldn’t it? It glorified violence without apology and never expected moviegoers to take it seriously.
I read reviews of the remake and they were not flattering. The new version is said to strip away the tongue-in-cheek silliness and irony, replacing it with unintentional silliness and Jason Statham.
“It’s going to suck,” I told Janice.
“Maybe for you,” she said. “Car races and violence are like porn to me.”
That settled that. A gentleman never denies a lady her porn.
I have to admit that as far as cinematic butt nuggets go, this one was fairly tolerable. Plot was kept to a merciful minimum. The departure from the original putting the race in a prison worked well and included ice-bitch warden as a villain for the audience to direct their misogyny. There was even a “Shawshank Redemption” moment at the end, albeit one with a hot babe in cut offs shaking her butt in slow motion.
For the rest, there was an almost nonstop roaring of engines, twisted metal, and blood spatter. Every so often, Statham would lament his personal demons but in a movie like this, no one can be expected to give a shit.
Janice loved the flick for her own unhealthy reasons. I found it entertaining and walked out of the theater with a smirk on my face. If only I could believe that the filmmakers were in on the joke.