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Death Race 3: Inferno – Unrated (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 7, 2013 by  



“Death Race 3: Inferno – Unrated” is a film for those who enjoy popcorn action film, especially a film that features a lot of violence.  One is not going to worry about any sappy or sweet dialogue, this is a action-film that is all about its action, its returning characters of “Death Race 2” and figuring out if any of these people will survive by the end of the movie.  If you enjoyed the previous two “Death Race” films, you are going to enjoy “Death Race 3 Inferno”!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Universal Pictures Productions. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Death Race 3: Inferno – Unrated

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 widescreen), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Espanol, France DTS Digital Surround 5.1, Subtitles: English Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH, Espanol, French

COMPANY: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Violence and Language Throughout and Sexual Content) for rated version / Not Rated (Contains Material Different from the Rated Version)

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Directed by Roel Reine

Screenplay by Tony Giglio

Produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Mike Elliott

Co-Producer: Genevieve Hofmeyr, Marvin Saven

Associate Producer: Greg Holstein

Music by Trevor Morris

Cinematography by Role Reine, Wayne Shields

Edited by Radu Ion, Michael Trent

Casting by Bonnie Lee Bouman, Gillian Hawser

Production Design by Andrew Orlando

Art Direction by Patrick O’Connor, Mark Walker

Set Decoration by Andrew McCarthy

Starring:

Danny Trejo as Goldberg

Ving Rhames as Weyland

Dougray Scott as Niles York

Luke Goss as Carl “Luke” Lucas

Tanit Phoenix as Katrina Banks

Robin Shou as 14K

Langley Kirkwood as Dr. Klein

Tanya van Graan as Amber

Fred Koehler as Lists

Repentant convict Carl Lucas (Luke Goss) — aka Frankenstein— is a legendary driver in the brutal prison blood sport known as Death Race.  Only one victory away from winning freedom, Lucas is plunged into his most vicious competition yet: the first ever Desert Death Race. Through South Africa’s infernal Kalahari Desert, Lucas is pitted against ruthless adversaries and powerful forces at work behind the scenes to ensure his defeat.  Also, starring Danny Trejo and Ving Rhames, Death Race 3: Inferno is an insane, action packed thrill-ride.

The “Death Race” films have been around since 1975.  From the original “Death Race 2000” film directed by Paul Bartel and starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone which was inspired by Ib Melchior’s short story “The Racer”, the cult film would eventually find new life in 2008.

The remake by director Paul W.S. Anderson which starred Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson and Joan Allen did well in the box office and would ensure a direct-to-DVD sequel in 2011 titled “Death Race 2” starring Luke Goss (“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”, “Blade II”, “The Man”),  Ving Rhames (“Pulp Fiction”, “Dawn of the Dead”, “Mission: Impossible” films), Danny Trejo (“Machete”, “Grindhouse”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Con Air”), Frederick Koehler (“Kate & Allie”, “Mr. Mom”, “Death Race”) and Tanit Phoenix (“Lord of War”, “Safe House”, “Lost Boys: The Thirst”).  And also featured Dougray Scott (“Mission: Impossible 2”, “Hitman”, “Ever After: A Cinderella Story”) as the primary antagonist in the film.

And the cast from the second film returns once again for the direct-to-video Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray release of “Death Race 3: Inferno – Unrated”. Both the rated and unrated version of the film will be included on each Blu-ray release.

The film was directed by Roel Reine (“The Delivery”, “Death Race 2”, “The Scorpion 3: Battle for Redemption”) and written by Tony Giglio (“Death Race 2”, “Timber Falls”, “Chaos”).

To explain what “Death Race 3 Inferno” is about, we need to go back to the original film.  In 2012, the economy of the USA has collapsed, unemployment and crime skyrockets and prisons become privatized and for profit.

One prison on Terminal Island has come up with a plan to make profit through a pay-per-view broadcast of a modern gladiator game known as “Death Race” and those who can win five races will be granted freedom by the Warden.

In the first film, we were introduced to a masked driver named Frankenstein (played by David Carradine, who starred in the original 1975 film “Death Race 2000”).  A man named Jensen Ames (portrayed by Jason Statham) was convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and because Frankenstein, who is very popular with the audience, had died, to keep the legend alive and the ratings to be at its all time high, Jensen Ames takes on the identity of Frankenstein.

Jensen Ames manages to escape prison with a few others, but continuing the prisons wanting to keep the legend of Frankenstein alive and the ratings high, The Weyland Corporation which hosts the Death Match and owns Terminal Island, continues the “Death Race”.

In the second film, we were introduced to Carl “Luke” Lucas (portrayed by Luke Goss), a Getaway driver arrested for a crime that had gone wrong.  He eventually becomes a “Death Race” racer and his pit crew included the tech savvy Lists (portrayed by Frederick Koehler), the rough Goldberg (portrayed by Danny Trejo) and a female convict named Katrina Banks (portrayed by Tanit Phoenix).  Suffice to say, Luke has a $1 million bounty put on his head courtesy of his old crime boss.

An explosion occurs and everyone thinks Luke has been killed but it is revealed that 14K (portrayed by Robin Shou, who was in “Death Race”) of the Triad had helped Luke for saving his life.

While Luke’s friends think he is dead, we learn that Luke has now taken on the persona of Frankenstein.

Which leads us to the third film “Death Race 3: Inferno”.

Frankenstein (which is Carl “Luke” Lucas”) has now won four races and needs one more to become a free man. As Weyland (portrayed by Ving Rhames) reminds Luke that he will get freedom if he wins his fifth race but to assure that he gets released, he must keep his identity secret and no one will know he is Frankenstein, or else his friends, Lists, Goldberg and Katrina will be killed.

But before the final race, Niles York (portrayed by Dougray Scott) who is trying to make “Death Race” international and takes over the popular program.  He tells Luke that he must compete at a desert “Death Race” and in the interest of Frankenstein to keep winning, he orders Luke to lose.  Luke tells Niles that he had a deal with Weyland but Niles tells him that the deal is null and void and must do what he says.  He loves, he lives….he wins, he dies.

Luke is then sent to South Africa, as with other Death Race pit crews including Luke’s original pit crew featuring Lists, Goldberg and Katrina and also 14K’s crew.

As the group is taken to the facility, they see armed guards coming and see the popular Frankenstein arrive.  When rival pit crews start getting into a fight with prison security, Frankenstein’s mask has come off and the crew finds out that Luke is alive and are upset that he never told them.

It is revealed that in this Baja-style Death Race, a driver will now team up with a female convict and that Luke must team up with his ex-flame and navigator Katrina, who is very upset that Luke never revealed himself to be alive to her after all this time.

With many deadly racers taking part in this latest Death Race and Luke being one race away from being released from prison, will he win or will he abide by Niles’ ultimatum and throw the race?

VIDEO:

“Death Race 3 Inferno” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  Similar to “Death Race 2”, director Roel Reine did a fine job by making this film not look like a lesser version of its original theatrical version by choosing locations in where the film would look much better.  So, indoor shots are in parking garages or rooms but primarily in dark areas in prison.  Low light scenes that really bring out the feeling of desolation but also a battleground for prisoners.  Even better are the outdoor scenes, which show much more detail, especially with skin and also skin tones during closeups.

But “Death Race 3 Inferno” is another example of how a film that is direct-to-video doesn’t have to like one!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Death Race 3 Inferno” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English and French DTS Digital Surround 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0.  Also, like last year’s film, lossless audio for this third film sounds great.  With the sheer amount of people featured in the prison, you get a good amount of ambiance in the prison. But where this film shines is during the actual “Death Race” and there are explosions, gunfire, metal crunching on metal, the surround channels are heavily used during these sequences, especially LFE.  Dialogue is crystal clear and impressive dynamic range.  Like the video, “Death Race 3 Inferno” may be a direct-to-video film but it doesn’t have to sound like one.  And this film sounds awesome in HD!

Subtitles are in English SDH, Espanol and Francais.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Death Race 3: Inferno – Unrated” come with the following special features:

  • Alternate Opening – (5:21) An alternate opening for “Death Race 3: Inferno”.
  • Deleted Scenes – (11:51) Featuring nine deleted scenes.
  • Deleted Shots Montage – (5:01) Deleted scenes music montage.
  • The Making of Death Race 3: Inferno – (10:39) Producer Mike Elliott talks about how much bigger this film is and the director Roel Reine and cast talk about their involvement in the film and also incorporating the female fight scenes.
  • Racing for Death – (5:54) Filmmaker Roel Reine and the cast discusses how the third film can use different vehicles made for the desert, more destructive weaponry, violent characters behind the wheel and more!  Especially how the vehicles were designed in South Africa for the terrain.
  • Art Imitating Life: Goldberg – (5:19) Producer Mike Elliott and crew talk about working with Danny Trejo and how he draws from real-life experience.  Trejo talks about his second chance at life after prison thanks to movies and how he appreciates life much more.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Director Roel Reine

EXTRAS:

“Death Race 3: Inferno – Unrated” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film plus a slipcover and a UltraViolet code that allows you to stream and download the film to tablets, smartphones, computers and TV’s.

The “Death Race” films are known for its violence, action and always a corrupt prison taking advantage of its prisoners in order to make profit by having them participate in these gladiator games.

Always a battle between the last one standing, the original film from 1975 received heavy criticism for its use of nudity and violence.  And while a cult hit that was a product of its time for trying to shock the audience, it’s also one of the earlier films where people got to see Sylvester Stallone in action before he became famous a year later with “Rocky”.

With the remake released in 2008 and featuring Jason Statham, the tone of the 2008 film would set a goal to be super-violent like its predecessor, make it a satire of reality television and also make the competition to a race instead of a point system.  And most importantly, play upon the importance of certain characters such as Frankenstein and how it generates profit for these prisons who will do anything to keep their ratings high.

When I first watched the 2008 film, to tell you the truth, it probably made more sense to me than other film critics.  I was not a viewer when the original was released, but raised during the time of films such as “Mad Max” and “Running Man” but also video games such as “Twisted Metal” and “Carmageddon”, the whole idea of people battling in weaponized vehicles and the violence that surrounds these characters made sense.

And when the 2011 “Death Race 2” was released, I watched it with an open mind knowing that it was a direct-to-video sequel and for the most part, I found it to be a popcorn action film that was not going to be anything deep or require too much thought.  If you love straight-up action films, you were probably going to enjoy that film.

Here we are in 2013, with the release of “Death Race 3 Inferno” and watching the unrated version, the film tries to top the second film in terms of vehicles and overall damage.  The action was fast-paced and as one expects to see people going at war with vehicles in order to win the race, “Death Race 3 Inferno” also tries to do something different by featuring more violence and not just the men but showcasing the women fighting to the death in order to become a navigator.

Where the men in prison are people you can instantly loathe, the women are dressed in sexy outfits and are prepared to kill another.  From flame throwers to slicing people to death, “Death Race 3 Inferno” seemed as if it was become more “Mortal Kombat” at one point.

But the original film was always known for its gratuitous nudity and violence, “Death Race 3 Inferno” continues that theme.

As for the difference between the unrated version and the normal version of the film, there is not a lot of extra footage.  In fact, the unrated version has one minute extra.  But you do get both versions of the “Death Race 3 Inferno: Unrated” on Blu-ray.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is very good considering this is a direct-to-video sequel.  In fact, nothing about this film looks like a direct-to-videos sequel and it helps that the first half of the film is featured in a prison and in a cell where grime and low lighting can be used to the film’s benefit, and then the race itself in South Africa.  The outdoor scenes look very good and you can see the detail, especially with closeups of the characters faces.  Lossless audio is also well-done thanks to the many prisoners featured and adding to the overall ambiance.  And of course, its the action that sounds amazing with the actual race commanding the immersiveness of the soundtrack with great use of the surround channels and LFE.  Special features include deleted scenes, audio commentary but also a few Blu-ray exclusives.

“Death Race 3 Inferno: Unrated” is a film for those who enjoy popcorn action film, especially a film that features a lot of violence.  One is not going to worry about any sappy or sweet dialogue, this is a action-film that is all about its action, its returning characters of “Death Race 2” and figuring out if any of these people will survive by the end of the movie.

If you enjoyed the previous two “Death Race” films, more than likely, you are going to enjoy “Death Race 3: Inferno – Unrated”!

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