I'm not the biggest Jason Statham fan but he was decent enough in Uwe Bole's IN THE NAME OF THE KING, so I figured this movie couldn't be that bad. I was surprised-- this movie is quite good, exactly what a remake should be: the new director's take on it. Although it does have its ties to the original, mostly in tone, it stands on its own.
The premise is that in the near future, 2013, an ex-race car driver is framed for killing his wife and is sent to a maximum security prison that also happens to be the home of Death Race, an online spectacle that millions of viewers watch each month. The prisons are run by corporations, for profit, and they make millions of dollars by having their prisoners kill each other, violently, in this two mile obstacle course race to the death. Our hero is to take the place of "Frankenstein", a winning driver who was killed in the last race, and pretend that driver is still alive. The cold-blooded warden says that if he wins this next race she'll sign his release papers and let him go. Of course, he doesn't believe her and sets his own plan in motion for escaping.
This is one intense movie and the races are exciting because all the cars and stunts are real, not CGI like the SPEED RACER movie. The majority of the CGI effects are limited to the driver's deaths and also the exterior shots of the island prison. The one movie it did bring to mind was THE RUNNING MAN, only with cars and without Arnold.
DEATH RACE is definitely one of the best Summer '08 movies.