Death Race

In 2008, Paul W.S. Anderson write and directed Death Race, a film “inspired by” Death Race 2000. This time around, Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to the completely randomly named Terminal Island. This is the location of the annual Death Race in which convicts serving life sentences are offered a chance of freedom by winning a three-day race of armed and armoured cars around the island.

Because it makes complete sense that if you bring together the most violent and amoral criminals in a society, the most violent and most amoral is the one that should be released.

Ames is is offered a choice by Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen): to race as the popular mask-wearing (but now dead) champion, Frankenstein or never see his baby daughter again. Of course he joins the race.

Death Race isn’t really a remake of Death Race 2000 but it does draw inspiration, and some character names, from the earlier film and in doing so does invite comparison. This is unfortunate because it’s not as good… not by a long shot.

Certainly this is a much slicker film and special effects technologies have progressed much in the past 40 years. But Death Race also feels like a much smaller film than its predecessor and I think the setting is a large part of this.

While Death Race 2000 took place on the open road, with everyone a potential victim, Death Race restricts itself to a prison complex so that the only victims are also villains. This film also lacks the black humour of its predecessor and, even with a couple of cursory nods towards a dystopian premise, it really does feel like a much more generic action film.

And if you really want to see Jason Statham delivering vehicular carnage, you’d be a lot better off watching The Transporter.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Uwe Boll never ceases to amaze me. He is a notoriously terrible director, responsible for some famously bad films, and yet he still manages to attract people like Jason Statham, Ron Perlman, Ray Liotta and even Burt Reynolds to join his projects.

And so to In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, in which a farmer named Farmer (Jason Statham) sets out to rescue his kidnapped wife (Claire Forlani) and avenge the death of his son. To do this, he must fight the Krugs, which are basically orcs controlled by the evil wizard, Gallian (Ray Liotta).

Along the way, stuff happens, a plot twist leaps from nowhere and the good guys fight the bad guys. It it really isn’t worth going into any more detail than that because this is a very silly film. But if you embrace the fact that pretty much nothing is going to make much sense, it’s also quite a fun film to watch.

The (many) weaknesses of the plot are often compensated for by a cast that puts in performances that are far stronger than the film deserves. And it’s the cast that kept the film entertaining, even while we were joking about plot holes.

In the Name of the King is a film best watched in a group, and I watched it with the boys. Since I had started talking over the film, everyone else free to join in.

The most frequently repeated comment, not surprisingly, was:

But I don’t get why…

My favourite interjection, however was:

I want to be Jason Statham!

Which I think we can all agree is a totally suitable ambition for a nine year old.

People often talk about films being so bad they’re good, which is something I don’t really agree with. Bad films are bad films. But there are films that manage to sit right on the edge of being both terrible and hysterical and here is where you will find Uwe Boll.