Death race movies often feature films caught in seemingly impossible situations with the odds stacked against them as they fight to succeed against all opposition. If you are a fan of action-packed movies with your heart racing, you can check out the Death Race film series.
This movie series has delighted fans around the world since 1975. The cult classic follows the exploits of prisoners in a dystopian future world who participate in a no-holds-barred race for freedom. In each movie, Frankenstein is the mysterious inmate whose identity changes with each race to throw off competitors.
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So far, there are six films in the franchise. In 1975 this film series was started and named Death Race 2000 and followed by sequels – Death Race (2008), Death Race 2 (2010), Death Race 3: Inferno (2013), Death Race 2050 (2017), and Death Race: Beyond Anarchy (2018). Each movie has something unique to offer. The best part is that watching them in order enhances the experience as there are story arcs and character development throughout that can be followed.
- 1 How Many Death Race Movies Are There?
- 2 The First Continuity of Death Race Movies
- 3 The Second Continuity of Death Race Movies
- 4 All Death Race Movies According To Highest To Lowest IMDb Ranking
- 5 Conclusion
How Many Death Race Movies Are There?
A total of six death race movies have been released to date. The order of their release is
- Death Race 2000( released in 1975)
- Death Race( 2008)
- Death Race 2 ( 2010)
- Death Race 3: Inferno (2013)
- Death Race 2050 (released in 2017)
- Death Race: Beyond Anarchy(2018)
All those movies have a familiar character seen playing the main protagonist: Frankenstein. Different actors in every movie play a role.
If you are a newbie, watching them in order of their release date will make you understand. That’s because the death race movies are divided into two continuities.
The First Continuity of Death Race Movies
There are two movies belonging to the first continuity. The initial one was the Death Race 2000. Its sequel, Death Race 2050 released in 2017.
Death Race 2000
Director: Paul Bartel
Writers: Robert Thom, Charles B. Griffith, Ib Melchior
Stars: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth
Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Sport
It was the first movie to come under the film series, released in 1975. The plot is set in the near future, the year 2000. The backdrop of the bloody cross-country race is set up in a totalitarian regime of America. Annually this race is organized, which involves running over innocent people to score points. The motive for designing the “fun” bloodshed game for the president is to reduce the exploding population in the US.
This is the twentieth annual race featuring five drivers: Matilda, Calamity Jane, Machine Gun Joe, Nero and Frankenstein. Frankenstein is the national hero, wearing a mask, a burnt face, and an iron hand, and he is portrayed as invincible.
As the race begins with the president’s announcement, all five car racers and their navigators begin the bloodshed. Frankenstein’s navigator Annie is curious to unveil his identity behind the mask. The first exciting surprise unfolds as he reveals a dark secret.
Frankenstein is not only one person but is always replaced when one dies to establish the national hero as indestructible.
Meanwhile, a revolutionary, Thomasina Paine, leads several others to stop this brutal race and restore peace. Amidst all the bloodshed, Annie and Frankenstein fall for each other. The twists keep unfolding as Frankenstein starts suspecting Annie. A confrontation between the two reveals that Annie is the granddaughter of Thomasina and their aim is to kill the president. Frankenstein backs up with an ace conceding his plan to kill the president.
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In the fallout events, Joe tries to kill Frankenstein. Annie turns out a savior throwing the grenade-studded iron hand on Joe, killing him. Frankenstein emerges as a winner and approaches the president. Thomasina shoots Frankenstein thinking he killed Annie but soon recognizes that Annie walked to the stage in disguise as Frankenstein.
Taking advantage of the turmoil and confusion, Frankenstein runs his car over the president, putting an end to the bloody race. He later married Annie, became the president, and Thomasina was rewarded with the position of minister of domestic security.
The movie marks its end when Frankenstein runs his car over the race announcer, who demands the race continue and wants the violence to prevail.
Since it is the franchise’s first movie, it feels like a fresh take. The car designs and visuals need to be updated, looking at current scenarios. Dark humor, great action and some nudity are also prevalent in the film. It is weirdly amusing and worth a watch if you don’t mind graphic violence and cursing.
Death Race 2050
Director: G.J. Echternkamp
Writers: Matt Yamashita, G.J. Echternkamp, Robert Thom
Stars: Manu Bennett, Malcolm McDowell, Marci Miller
Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Sport
The new America of 2050 needs to be more populated and unemployed. To dodge the problems, the government sponsors an entertaining cross-country car race competition. The innocent pedestrians are point tokens, and the crazy cult of fans sacrifice their lives for the drivers. The main character Frankenstein is again portrayed as a half-machine hero. Tammy the terrorist, Jed perfect, evil black eye ABE and hip hop star Minerva are strong contenders for the win.
Annie, the proxy of Frankenstein, is a rebel spy unknown to him.
With keeping the integrity of the original plot alive, the sequel also involves turns and twists, with the ending being chaotic, unlike the prequel.
With the car crash and death of perfectus, Frankenstein emerges as an undefeated champion. He kills the chairman and urges the audience to start their death race. Annie and Frankenstein watch the chaos, thinking of rebuilding the country once the mess ends.
The movie is a sequel to Death Race 2000. It is easy to guess the entire plot as it is identical to the original one. Only the ending adds a twist making it a below-average movie.
The Second Continuity of Death Race Movies
Death race 2, death race 3, death race and death race beyond anarchy belong to the second continuity of the franchise.
Death Race 2
Director: Roel Reiné
Writers: Tony Giglio, Paul W.S. Anderson, Robert Thom
Stars: Luke Goss, Lauren Cohan, Sean Bean
Genres: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A prequel to death race 3 is a movie highlighting the backdrop of the concept of death race. Carl Lucas, accused of murdering a cop, is a prisoner in terminal island private jail. September, the main antagonist, organizes a death match between prisoners, which ends when one dies. The graphic violence is broadcasted to chip in some cash.
After significant loss and disinterest in people, September comes up with the idea of a death race when she sees Lucas driving an old garage car. The reward of winning the race is freedom. The carnage begins. The rules are simple, no hold, no bars and most importantly, no rules.
The climax begins when Lucas is caught in a fire due to a car crash, and his face is disfigured. He is announced dead but is alive and now wears a mask taking the name of Frankenstein.
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The movie ends with Lucas( Frankenstein) crushing September under his car and emerging as the winner. This movie differs from the original continuity and holds significant spice, although some similarities exist. Action, visuals and plot make it appealing enough to try.
Death Race 3: Inferno
Director: Roel Reiné
Writers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Tony Giglio, Robert Thom
Stars: Luke Goss, Tanit Phoenix, Danny Trejo
Genres: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi, Thriller
The movie begins with the climax of Death Race 2. Carl Lucas has emerged as a beloved car racer named Frankenstein. So far, he has won 4 races, and if he succeeds in winning the fifth, he will be free from prison. The death race, limited to the terminal island prison, is transformed into a mega race in South Africa.
York, the new jail owner, fears the drop of the fanbase after Frankenstein leaves. He has his evil plan all set to spice up the death race. The crazy African drivers are ready to try hook and crook for the ultimate win. Niles wants Frankenstein to lose and threatens to kill him if he wins. Frankenstein makes a master plan with Katrina and Goldberg after regaining their trust.
Lucas let another racer friend, 14K, win on the final day. He instead turns his car and crashes it into the control room where yorks is sitting. York and Katrina are declared dead, and an official statement suggests only Lucas, with a disfigured face, survives.
The ending scene is a flashback revealing that Katrina and Lucas, along with Goldberg and alive and enjoying themselves. The one with the disfigured face is York. It was all a master plan of Lucas and ex-prison owner Weyland. York accepts his fate and wears the mask of Frankenstein for revenge.
This movie is enjoyable overall, as the climax is unpredictable. The quality, action and weapon-loaded cars keep the movie-going. Although, nudity and gore prevail in this movie as well.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Robert Thom, Charles B. Griffith
Stars: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Tyrese Gibson
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
The movie is set in an overpopulated America with a high crime rate. Private jails are the only option to bring the situation under control. One such jail, terminal island, is a hub of illegal car racing to win freedom. The prisoner who survives three days of the race gets freedom as a reward. The cars are loaded with weapons that need to be unlocked. Henessy, the wicked owner of the jail, makes a profit by broadcasting the brutal race that people seem to enjoy. The two main characters Frankenstein and machine gun Joe have also secured their spot in this bloody race for freedom.
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The opening scenes show a car race where Frankenstein is about to win with his navigator Case. Joe, his opponent, destroys his cars, and Frankenstein dies. The dark secret is not revealed to the world. An innocent talented driver Jensen is falsely accused of murdering his wife and brought to jail for racing.
He dresses up as Frankenstein and enters the death race. Despite the challenges, he convinces Joe, his rival, to team up and flee the prison. They escape together, and Case wears the attire of Frankenstein to surrender.
In the final scene, Hennessy dies from a bomb blast created by Goldberg. Jensen and Joe open a garage in Miami and are joined by Case after six months when she is released.
The movie is one of the finest after the original death race 2000. The plot and twist prediction takes work. The top-notch action and the center-of-attraction cars do not disappoint.
Death Race: Beyond Anarchy
Director: Don Michael Paul
Writers: Tony Giglio, Don Michael Paul, Paul W.S. Anderson Stars; Lucy Aarden, Nicholas Aaron, Jasette Amos
Genres: Action, Adventure
The final death race movie released to date is Death Race Beyond Anarchy, also known as death race 4. Sprawl, a private prison, is a malignant cell of car racing recently declared illegal. Frankenstein, the king of sprawl, refuses to stop the race. He poses a formidable challenge to the warden. Meanwhile, a helicopter drops new prisoners to the sprawl, which marks the entry of Connor. The black operation specialist has the motive to take down Frankenstein. The rivalry begins.
Frankenstein establishes his dominance and army in the sprawl. The attempts of the warden to kill him go in vain. The scene marks the entry of cop Conner and another cop Rose. Their aim is later revealed to kill Frankenstein.
Connor bravely fights the henchmen and has an encounter with Frankenstein. He later wins the qualifier round for the death race and gets the key to the car.
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Jane, the bartender, falls for Connor. Their feelings for each other grow deeper. So Frankenstein chooses Jane as his shield and picks her as his navigator. Everyone starts hating Connor when his identity and mission are revealed. The race begins and develops massive destruction and bloodshed.
Towards the end, Connor’s car runs out of fuel, and Frankenstein rushes to kill him. Just in time, Rose appears on the scene, shooting Frankenstein, and he dies. Connor decides to stay back for Jane and rule the sprawl while Rose leaves.
It is a mediocre movie with a predictable, steady flow. That does not make it less entertaining, but the violence, bloodshed and bold scenes make it unfit for the young audience.
All Death Race Movies According To Highest To Lowest IMDb Ranking
- Death Race(2008) – 6.4 with 211k
- Death Race 2000 – 6.2 with 29k
- Death Race 2 – 5.6 with 33k
- Death Race 3: Inferno – 5.4 with 20k
- Death Race: Beyond Anarchy – 5.2 with 4.5k
- Death Race 2050 – 3.7 with 4.9k
The death race franchise offers a feast for action lovers. The crazy yet weird car designs and visuals are a treat to watch. If you mindlessly demand some fun, it might be the right choice. It might be upsetting if you are a plot admirer and mind nudity, gore and cursing. The plot is predictable as you get familiar with the death race series. Nevertheless, if you wish to understand the series better, watch the movies in respective continuity.