The next installment of Death Race went straight-to-DVD. What can you do? With a film that could be expanded in so many ways in a sequel, they had to do the second one as a prequel, focusing on a character you watched in the first Death Race movie.
Gotta love how they make the trailers look badass!
Death Race 2 has a damn good cast set up, but with a poorly derived storyline. The main character is Carl Luckas, played by Luke Goss (who's been seen in such bad guy roles as Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Blade 2). It's sad to see Goss placed into the second movies, or roles that are generally the bad guy, but here he seemed to be the the good guy forced into being the bad guy. He is the bank robber's professional wheelman, whose boss is Markus Kane (Sean Bean).
Here is a better look at the Ford Mustang.
Carl is supposed to be the wheelman for this bank job, yet something goes wrong when the police show up unexpectedly and screws up all the plans. They do an awesome little getaway scene, but Carl can't stand that he had killed someone. He lets the other bank robbers go, and distracts the police and get captured.
There is the Shelby GT 500 Super Snake, a sexy car whose only problem is it's a Ford!
Carl ends up on Terminal Island, where they have a setup like the gladiators in which prison inmates battle it out in a caged area with different weapons. Two men enter, and only one leaves.The problems they have with this is that the head of the prison system is a corporation that decides to put the fights on the TV to make money. The story gets interesting, as Kane thinks that Carl is going to talk, so he wants him killed. The upper people find out about this, and want him to fight in the death match. Carl refuses, but they force him anyways. Along with that he finally gets his jail duty: taking apart cars and other things. He finds a Ford Mustang laying around, and starts up the idea of the Death Race.
The other big name in Death Race 2 is Danny Trejo, who plays Goldberg (AKA the Mexican Jew) the coach on the racing team. (It seems funny that Trejo has been hanging around with the great Eli Roth recently, who played a character in Inglorious Basterds by the name of the Bear Jew.) Sadly I don't think they used Trejo to his maximum capabilities of acting. They more or less just had him hang around explaining some stuff, with the occasional sitting back and looking pretty scenes.
14k rocking the Porsche!
Among one of the actors that transferred from the Death Race movie is none other than Robin Shou, who plays 14K. You might remember him as Liu Kang from the first and second Mortal Kombat films. It was great to see him in this role again, but I still feel that it wasn't enough. Shou is one of those actors that deserves more of the spotlight, but doesn't get the proper respect. He does play a major role in Death Race 2 for the most part, but I feel bad because in the original film he just gets blown up.
Love the Dodge Ram, but don't care too much for the driver.
With that said this movie is pretty damn good considering, but I can see why it wasn't strong enough to be put in theaters. That's how a lot of these film have been going: they don't pass Go, don't collect $200 and find themselves straight-to-DVD. I liked the actors and characters, but the storyline isn't as strong as could've been. However it does get the point across about the man behind the mask from the original movie, seeing as they needed to explain that with him only being in the original for the first 5 minutes.
The first look of Frankenstein!
Death Race 2 gets a rating of 3.9 out of 5. It's a good film, but I think it could've been so much better. There is a way to create a third Death Race movie, so I wouldn't be surprised if they pull it off somehow. It might just just go straight-to-DVD, which would not make me a happy camper. If you can rent this movie before you buy it. I don't count this as a film to hang up on my wall, but I'll do so just so I have the continuance of the series. Just be glad it's not the older series. Otherwise that might just be as bad as the original Death Race 2000 (see trailer below...may David Carradine R.I.P.).
Final Grade: 3.9 out of 5