Prequel/Sequel News: Death Race 2

Hey all…

I’m a little late to the party, but I thought I’d pass along news that Death Race 2 started filming in South America in February and March 2010. Evidently this film will be a prequel to explain the rise of insane driver Frankenstein on the Death Race circuit.

It actually seems to have a pretty good cast – with Luke Goss (Hellboy 2: The Golden Army), Ving Rhames (Con Air, Pulp Fiction), Sean Bean (National Treasure, Lord of the Rings trilogy), Danny Trejo (Planet Terror, USA Network’s Burn Notice), and Lauren Cohan (The CW’s Supernatural). Let’s hope director Roel ReinĂ© (The Marine 2, The Lost Tribe) can do justice to the Death Race circuit.

I enjoyed the remake of Death Race back in 2008 starring Jason Statham. So we’ll see if the prequel can hold up. 🙂

Here’s the synopsis:

Death Race 2 takes place in the very near future, as the United States economy begins to decline and violent crime starts to spiral out of control. To contain the growing criminal population, a vast network of for-profit, private prisons springs up, creating a lawless subculture ruled by gangs, cold-blooded killers and sociopaths. The worst of these prisons is Terminal Island. Convicted cop-killer Carl Lucas arrives on the Island to serve his life sentence just as ruthlessly ambitious television personality September Jones launches the ultimate reality show, Death Race. A brutal prison yard demolition derby that pits prisoners against each other in steel reinforced, heavily armed vehicles, Death Race offers the winner the ultimate prize: freedom — if he can survive to enjoy it. When Lucas signs up to be a driver, the stage is set for the birth of a legendary racer.

Let’s see what happens with this one – might even be a direct to DVD release. No release date yet, but due out sometime in 2011.

–Fitz

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DVD Review: The Bank Job

Hi there!

Recently I saw The Bank Job on DVD. And though I didn’t particularly like it (I give it 2 out of 4 stars), it provides a window into an interesting time in London’s history, when a sexually adventurous Royal caused more than a little trouble for the government and a group of thieves who stumbled into the conspiracy.

Let’s start at the beginning… In 1971, a small gang of thieves broke into the safety deposit vault of a branch of Lloyd’s Bank. The group had rented a shop down the street and tunnelled from the basement of the shop about 40 feet beneath a restaurant to get into the bank from below. A local ham radio operator overheard some of the chatter between the thieves and a lookout and brought the police in to see what they thought. After four days of coverage in the media, the situation suddenly went quiet when the government issued a D-Notice (similar to saying it was a matter of National Security).

[rating:2/4]

Only recently were the reasons behind the D-Notice disclosed. Evidently Princess Margaret was an adventurous soul who traveled quite a bit in the Caribbean in the 1960s and 70s. Photos of a sexual nature taken of Princess Margaret on one or more of her trips were stored in a safety deposit box in the Lloyd’s bank that was robbed that night in 1971. The photos supposedly were associated with Michael X, a Black Power leader in London at the time. Michael X was purportedly a man associated with prostitution and the drug trade in London as well. However, the files in London about Michael X won’t be released until 2054, so who knows when that story will fully come to light.

(If you want to know more about the history involved, read this article in the Mirror. It’s very interesting with lots of curious twists and turns.)

So now that you know a bit of the history that the movie is based on, you also know much of the plot of The Bank Job starring Jason Statham. (You can get the complete cast list and much more at IMDB’s site here.

Directed by Roger Donaldson and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the movie focuses on Statham’s character, Terry Leather. Terry runs a car lot and used to run with a group of small-time thugs. He’s approached by an old friend of his, Martine Love played by Saffron Burrows, and told of a bank job. She thinks he should get the band back together and take advantage of the situation.

It only gets more convoluted from there. Between pimps, crime bosses, dirty cops, and politicians caught in all sorts of compromising positions, there are enough double crosses in this movie to keep everybody happy.

One of the things I thought was done well was that the look of the sets and costumes appeared quite historically accurate. I can’t say I was around in 1970s London obviously, but all the things in the background (clothing, glasses, furniture, etc.) all lent themselves well to what I felt that time period should look like.

One thing I didn’t really appreciate (though it served its purpose in the film) were the nude scenes and the S&M scenes. Though it was important to the plot, I had to wonder if it was a bit gratuitous in some places.

But my biggest complaint was the pacing of the movie. At 111 minutes, it seemed to drag in a number of places. Honestly, I can’t say that it was the script (there were lots of juicy things to include as plot points), and it might not have been the director. But there had to have been some edits that could have tightened it up a bit.

I am a big fan of Jason Statham. The Transporter series, Crank, and Death Race have all been fast and fun. Statham just chugs through the scenery and looks great doing it. (I’m sure my wife wouldn’t mind if I had his physique.) He’s turning out to be a bit like Jean Claude and Steven Seagal… they play the same roles in all their films, the just have slightly different names and settings. This movie was a bit out of his normal line of roles, which is probably a good thing for his career.

Somehow, even he couldn’t save this movie all the way. However, I think he did a great job in a more ensemble-type film than he’s used to.

All of that said, I thought the end of the movie was quite good. All the double-crosses came to a head. The good guys (most of them, anyway) won. The bad guys lost. The Royals’ precious honor was preserved. And all was good with the world. I just don’t think it should have taken nearly 2 hours to get there.

The Bank Job had its moments, but they weren’t enough to save this movie for me. I’m giving it two stars out of four (2/4).

Thanks for reading!

–Fitz

p.s. If you want your own copy, check out the following DVD & Blu-Ray versions available at Amazon.

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War (DVD) (2007)

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

Hi there…

I have to admit that the WGA strike has allowed us to watch many more movies on our Netflix list than in prior months, so in that respect it’s a good thing. Can’t say the same about this flick however.

[rating:2/4]

War starred Jet Li and Jason Statham in an assassin vs. cop story of betrayal, revenge, the Yakuza, the Triads, the FBI, and whomever else they could shoehorn into this script. And though I’m a fan of both Jet Li (ever since Unleashed) and Jason Statham (The Transporter and Crank), this movie didn’t do much for me.

Here’s the IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499556/

Although this appeared to be a big budget production, I thought they should’ve spent more time on the script. It seemed that the writers took a bunch of ok ideas, put them in a blender, and came up with this movie idea.

Let’s take The Transporter, a bad Jet Li movie (because there are good ones), toss in several Asian crime syndicates, the FBI, some cops, some nudity (because for some reason when you deal with Asian crime syndicates, they must include seedy places with guys eating or drinking off of naked women), the FBI agent needs to get a divorce because he’s obsessed with his job (not cliche at all), add a dead partner and a needlessly murdered wife and daughter… Put the blender on puree…

And voila! This movie pops out!

I’m actually not sure how I made it through this one. I was bored about halfway through and predicted plot elements as they were telegraphed. I think it was the fact that I knew Luis Guzman was in this movie, and I really like him, that kept me watching.

What’s to like? Well, there are Statham and Li fight scenes. Some of them aren’t badly choreographed. Lots of gunfire and explosions. Even a plot somewhere in there.

What’s not to like? Well, the plot and script were more than a little contrived IMHO.

So if you’re a guy and you have 103 minutes to kill, this one is for you. Not for the kiddies, and your wives and girlfriends will probably not appreciate it much unless they like looking at Jason Statham.

This one gets 2/4 stars. Hardly worth watching once, but I have to give props to Guzman for making me stick it out.

Until next time… Enjoy the movies!
–Fitz

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