8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Death race 2000 - Cool cars, sex and death: what more do you want from a film?,
This review is from: Death Race 2000  [DVD] (DVD)
A little while ago I had occasion to watch Deathrace, a remake of this film starring Jason Statham. I was impressed, and determined to watch the original. I have to say I was equally impressed, though for totally different reasons!
This is an almost perfect example of cheap seventies film making. And I don't mean cheap in a pejorative sense, in this case it is an accolade, as they managed to do so much with a limited budget and I am seriously impressed.
It's a brilliant concept. In the near dystopic future, America is ruled by a dictator. Like all good dictators he needs an outlet for the rage of the masses, and so we have the Death Race. Drivers in souped up roadsters take off across America, scoring points for people killed along the way. Just the story of the race itself would have made for a brilliant film, with plenty of scope for fast car chases and grisly deaths. But the producers added in a layer of intrigue for those who need more - there are rebels lurking about, and not all of the drivers and navigators are exactly what they seem. And what is the story of the mysterious Frankenstein, the masked champion?
A ridiculous script is played out as straight as possible by the actors, who all seem to get into the spirit of it and inject it with a real sense of fun. At its heart that's what this film is, a fun film. There are scenes straight out of the Whacky Races and Roadrunner cartoons, played out live action and transferring across brilliantly. There is the odd bit of social commentary, and a few jabs at chat show hosts and the press, these aren't (in the main) too overplayed and add to the sense of fun.
David Carradine is a little flat as the lead, but Sylvester Stallone makes up for it by overacting his part enough for two. It's a cartoonish performance, totally fitting with the ethos of the film.
It's a classic from the stable of Roger Corman, surely one of the greatest film makers in Hollywood?
The version I have is the 2004 DVD release, ASIN B0001E5T7E. This has a widescreen print, which has undergone little or no remastering. The print is a little scratchy and jumpy in places, but you have to be looking for it to spot it. The sound is mono, and clear if a little quiet. The extras are limited to some biographies of cast and crew. A decent budget presentation (pretty much in keeping with Corman's entire working ethic!). 4 stars, I feel a bigger budget release of this classic with some decent extras and a restored print would be worth 5.