Death Race DVD

Theatrical Release Date: 08/22/2008
DVD: Release Date: 12/21/2008
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, Natalie Martinez

The Film:

What’s a cross between “Talladega Nights” and “The Running Man”? You’re correct, it’s “American Idol” … wait …

So, “Death Race” is director Paul W.S. Anderson’s tribute/update to the legendary (in a cult fashion) Roger Corman film, “Death Race 2000″. It concerns a brutal, kill or be killed car race between prison inmates all for the public joy and corporate greed.

Hollywood’s favorite driver, Jason Statham, takes on the lead role and must out drive Tyrese Gibson and outwit Joan Allen. Somewhere along the way, people get maimed and killed and ultra-hot female inmates help navigate the races. What’s not to like?

While it doesn’t elevate itself to the heights the director was aiming for, the film is fun and an enjoyable ride – for the most part. It does drag in certain sections and one should never put too much hope in the plot development or predictability. However, everyone turns in decent performances (commensurate with the film’s overall worth) and a slew of cars and people get turned into scrap.

Also, it’s worth noting that Stephen King placed this as his #10 favorite movie of 2008 in Entertainment Weekly. Maybe that will do something for you?

For my full review, click here.

The DVD:

This DVD doesn’t come loaded with features. However, with a commentary track and the ability to view the unrated edition (with an extra 6 minutes of film), at least fans of the film won’t see this as a complete waste of their money. I wanted more features that would show more of the cast camaraderie … but few people really care what I want.


Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Anamorphic Widescreen 2:35:1.


English (for the hard of hearing); Spanish; French.


English; Spanish; French.

Extra Features:

Commentary with Director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt (unrated version only)

—– While it lacks the fun a cast commentary can often provide, Anderson and Bolt do a decent job of keeping it interesting as they explain their approach to the film and certain scenes. I especially enjoyed Anderson’s revelation that the camera operator responsible for getting a posterior shot of Natalie Martinez’ first scene was a woman and he was worried that she might not get the kind of sexist shot he was looking for … lucky for all of us heterosexual men and a few of the ladies out there, she did.

Start Your Engines: Making a Death Race

—– Pretty much your typical “making of” feature. The cast and crew talk about the genesis of the project, characters in the film and working with the other actors. The feature also talks briefly about the abandoned train yard used for the racing scenes and the designing of the cars that are so pivotal to the film’s success.

Behind the Wheel: Dissecting the Stunts

—– While CGI was used for many scenes involving dialogue while in the middle of vehicular madness, director Paul W.S. Anderson and his crew paid careful attention to making as many elements as possible practical stunts. Even the best CGI still doesn’t give quite the visceral impact to the human eye so it was nice to see them take that into account. This feature is just under 8 minutes long but it’s still interesting to watch.

The Sobering Conclusion:

While I knocked “Burn After Reading” for having the same number of features, the biggest issue came down to the existence of a commentary track. At least Paul W.S. Anderson slapped that on the disc and kept me from downgrading this DVD any further. While they certainly should have placed more features on this disc, the ones available are worth watching if you’re a fan of the film.

Add to that the unrated version being available to watch and the bottom line is that if you loved the film, there are worse ways to spend your cash. Of course, the Blu-ray version comes with an extra bell/whistle (in the form of being able to edit the races together using multiple camera shots) but that also comes at a higher price.