A second prequel to 2008’s Death Race, Death Race 3: Inferno picks up just after Death Race 2 ended. Essentially, the prisons have been taken over by private, for profit corporations. One of the ways the corporations make money is to hold brutal to-the-death races between inmates. The public pays to watch these races on cable TV or the internet. There are no real rules—cars are equipped with high powered rifles, allowing racers to kill competitors who might otherwise beat them. For any prisoner who can win five of these brutal races, the prize is their freedom. Carl Lucas (Luke Goss) is a star driver. Disfigured in an explosion during a race, he wears a metal mask over his face and is referred to as “Frankenstein.”
Death Race 3: Inferno finds billionaire playboy Niles York (Dougray Scott) wrestling control of Weyland Enterprises—the corporation that came up with the original Death Race—from Ving Rhames. Carl Lucas is just one victory away from freedom, but Niles informs him that he’s changing the deal and Lucas must lose the next race. York wants Lucas to keep racing and draw an audience.
Instead of having the races on prison grounds, Lucas is choppered out to South Africa’s Kalahari Desert. Female prisoners referred to as “navigators” accompany each of the drivers in the passenger seat to advise them of what’s going on so that they can concentrate on their driving. Each driver also has a “pit crew” talking to them via radio. Everyone involved has a has a tracking device in their neck, which can be found by a guided missiles. Escaping to freedom during the race is impossible.
As long as you don’t go into Death Race 3: Inferno looking for a deep narrative, this is fun stuff. Director Roel Reine (who helmed Death Race 2) has created a film that plays out much like a videogame. Racers must pass through points on the road that activates different weapons on their vehicles. It’s pretty cool stuff to watch. If the film has an obvious weakness, it’s that we have to get through the first half hour of the movie before the first race is ready to begin.
In truth, Death Race 3: Inferno is purely by-the numbers material, not offering anything new. Nonetheless, it works because it’s unabashedly slick and energetic. As a bonus, the final plot twist is crazy; it really has to be seen to be believed.
Shot digitally, Universal’s transfer is shown in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Positively gritty, the image looks lifelike. Details of the South African scenery look absolutely beautiful. Color levels throughout are impressive. Death Race 3 may not be typically beautiful, but this transfer delivers.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sounds fantastic. The mix is very active. The surround and LFE is used extensively. This is a film filled with loud engine sound effects, explosions and more. Dialogue remains decipherable amongst all the noise. The standard DVD’s 5.1 Dolby Digital track also sounds very good, but sound quality is noticeably below that of the Blu-ray.
French and Spanish dubs in 5.1 (DTS on the Blu-ray and Dolby Digital on the DVD) are also included, as well as English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles which are also included on the movie’s special features.
The following special features are included:
- R-Rated and Unrated Cuts of the Film: The Blu-ray edition of Death Race 3: Inferno features a 105-minute R-rated version of the film and a 105-minute Unrated Cut. The difference amounts to a few seconds that doesn’t amount to much.
- Audio Commentary with Director Roel Reine: Reine discusses the ups and down of the production, from start to finish. He’s clearly proud of what he was able to do with a minimal budget.
- Deleted Scenes/Deleted Shots Montage/Alternate Opening (HD, 19:46) A collection of nine deleted scenes, an alternate opening and a deleted shots montage. Scenes include “I’m Ready to Do for You,” “One Win Away from Freedom,” “Technically That’s Not Land,” “Matthew 13:49,” “Hope You Enjoy the Show,” “You Are the Best Driver,” “Kill as a Team,” “Too Many Deals” and “Full of Surprises.”
- The Making of Death Race 3: Inferno (HD, 10:39) A look at the production, with plenty of on-set footage and interviews.
- Racing for Death (HD, 5:57) How Inferno’s race scenes were shot.
- Art Imitating Life: Goldberg (HD, 5:21) A look at Danny Trejo’s character and his role in the film.
- My Scenes Bookmarking
- Standard DVD Copy of the Film
- Digital Copy of the Film
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