DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Roel Reiné
Luke Goss, Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo, Tanit Phoenix, Dougray Scott, Tanya van Graan, Robin Shou, Roxane Hayward
Writing Credits:
Tony Giglio (and story), Paul W.S. Anderson (story, characters from "Death Race"), Robert Thom (characters from "Death Race 2000"),Charles B. Griffith (characters from "Death Race 2000")

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.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min. (Rated Version) / 106 min. (Unrated Version)
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 1/22/2013

• Both Rated and Unrated Versions
• Audio Commentary with Director Roel Reiné
• Alternate Opening and Deleted Scenes
• Deleted Shots Montage
• “The Making of Death Race 3: Inferno” Featurette
• “Racing for Death” Featurette
• “Art Imitating Life: Goldberg” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Death Race 3: Inferno [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 21, 2013)

Back in 2008, Death Race failed to find much of an audience, as it took in a mere $36 million in the US. However, the direct-to-video market provides a forgiving landing spot, so the franchise continues in that arena and leads us to 2013’s Death Race 3: Inferno.

Set a few years in the future, inmates compete in “death races” – driving battles that often complete with fatalities – to attain their freedom. Masked driver/fan fave Carl Lucas (Luke Goss) – aka “Frankenstein” – needs one more win to leave prison.

In the meantime, entrepreneur Niles York (Dougray Scott) buys out Weyland International, the company that runs Death Race. York wants to make Death Race a franchise that goes around the world. However, he needs Frankenstein to make this work, so he plots to find a way to keep Lucas from attaining his freedom. We follow these endeavors as we see Death Race head to the South African desert.

I didn’t care for the 2008 Death Race and skipped 2010’s Death Race 2. I’m not sure why I decided to rejoin the franchise with Inferno; I guess I forgot how much I disliked the 2008 film and liked the concept enough to give the third chapter a shot.

If they announce a Death Race 4, I hope my feeble old brain can retain memories of Inferno so I can avoid it. As bad as the 2008 movie was, Inferno gives us something even worse.

As I re-read my review of Death Race, I was tempted to cut and paste my comments as I view both in a nearly identical manner. Heck, I’d planned to claim that Inferno was directed by a Michael Bay-based android until I saw I already made that crack in my prior review!

Like its predecessor, Inferno emphasizes slick action without any sense of logic or excitement. It just takes all the tricks from the Bay bag – over the top sound, rapid editing, constantly moving cameras – and deploys them without the slightest hint of filmmaking skill. I guess someone thinks that all the cinematic hyperactivity will convey thrills to the audience, but they’re wrong; instead, the utter absence of restraint makes the movie consistently irritating. Seriously – does the camera ever stop swirling?

Quite possibly the most mindless movie ever made, the story doesn’t add any pleasure either. Inferno comes with only the most rudimentary of plots, as it essentially dispenses with character issues and themes to simply focus on the Death Race itself. Across the flick’s 106 minutes, I doubt we find more than 10 minutes that lack action of some sort; we always see racing or other kinds of battles.

Maybe that’s what the target audience wants, but I think it flops. Literal non-stop action becomes too much after a while and delivers decreasing returns. Without any breaks from the action, it all becomes white noise; nothing’s exciting if everything is “exciting”.

But that’d require some restraint, and as I already mentioned, we find none of that here. We also can’t find a single decent performance in the bunch. The talented actors here mail in their work – Scott does almost nothing more than cackle maniacally, and if you look closely, I think you can see Rhames count his salary in his head. The lesser lights give us no reason to suspect future glories; campy almost to a person, they overact and fail to bring anything to the tale.

Even with a loose plot, Inferno seems incoherent. The dialogue sounds like someone who learned English as a twelfth language wrote it, and the narrative just acts as a minor excuse for action. It’s all style, and bad style at that, with not a speck of substance to be found.

You know you’ve stumbled upon a poor piece of work when the movie relies on a long flashback sequence to act as its “climax”. I don’t expect a lot from direct-to-video sequels – and I expect even less from direct-to-video sequels to poor films. Even with such low expectations, Inferno falls short.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Death Race 3: Inferno appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Overall, the image looked great.

Sharpness consistently remained excellent. At all times, the movie featured tight, accurate delineation, and it didn’t show any signs of jaggies, shimmering or edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent as well.

Colors tended toward an amber feel, though a few livelier tones occasionally emerged. These came across as full and appealing within the visual design. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed accurate and well-rendered. No issues popped up in this solid presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked well, albeit in an awfully aggressive manner. This was one of the more active mixes I’ve heard in a while, and I thought it could be too hyperactive. The audio threw material at us without respite, and this could become fatiguing.

However, that was the movie’s intention, as the whole thing played out as “in your face”, so I couldn’t fault the mix. Despite the excessive level of activity, the track still managed to give us well-placed material and a fairly involving sense of the different settings. Vehicles zoomed around the room and other violent elements opened up the mix well.

Audio quality was always strong. Music sounded peppy and full, while speech appeared crisp and distinctive. Effects were also accurate and dynamic. This was a track that seemed worthy of a “B+”.

The disc includes both the rated (1:44:50) and unrated (1:45:12) versions of Inferno. What do you get for that extra 32 seconds? I have no idea, as I only watched the slightly longer cut. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention the presence of both versions.

With that we head to an audio commentary from director Roel Reiné. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at story/character subjects and connections to the other Death Race movies, budgetary issues, vehicles and design, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, various effects, editing and cinematography, music, and a few other areas.

While I don’t care for Reiné’s movie, I think he provides an entertaining commentary. He covers a nice array of subjects and does so with real gusto. The director keeps the enthusiasm level high and turns this into a fun and informative chat.

In addition to an Alternate Opening (5:21), we find nine Deleted Scenes (11:50). The “Alternate Opening” simply spells out its preliminary exposition in a different way; I don’t see it as better or worse than the existing opening.

As for the nine deleted scenes, some of the shots already appear in the “Alternate Opening”; those concern how Carl became “Frankenstein”. Most of the sequences give the supporting characters a bit more exposition, and those might’ve been helpful; they articulate the story better than the rock-em, sock-em final product. I doubt these would’ve made Inferno a good flick, but at least it might’ve had a little more substance.

We also locate a Deleted Shots Montage. It goes for four minutes, 59 seconds and delivers what it promises: a collection of short trims. None of these become substantial enough to qualify as full-fledged deleted scenes, so they get packaged together here. Nothing especially interesting appears, partially because the montage format makes them a bit of a mess; the end product almost feels like a weird music video.

Three featurettes follow. The Making of Death Race 3: Inferno lasts 10 minutes, 39 seconds and provides comments from Reiné, producer Mike Elliott, production designer Andrew Orlando, associate producer Greg Holstein, stunt coordinator Grant Hulley, SFX coordinator Cordell McQueen, stunt driver Allen Irwin, stunt performer Brian Svosve, foreman Paul Pietrese, and actors Dougray Scott, Danny Trejo, Luke Goss, Fred Koehler, Ving Rhames, Robin Shou, Tanit Phoenix, Hluti Mboya, Katja Hopkins, and Shaamilla Noordien. They discuss driving and stunts, Reiné’s work on the set, cast, characters and performances. We get a few useful sequences here – mostly related to stunts and action – but much of the program feels like fluffy promotion.

Racing for Death runs five minutes, 57 seconds and features Reiné, Koehler, Elliott, Phoenix, Holstein, Goss, Orlando, Shou, Hulley, vehicle designer Alex Wheeler, and stunt driver Craig Sobotker. This one looks at the design and assembly of the movie’s vehicles. Like the prior piece, it’s not a meaty program, but it has enough interesting tidbits to make it worth a look.

Finally, the five-minute, 21-second Art Imitating Life: Goldberg includes notes from Elliott, Koehler, Trejo, and Shou. This one looks at the life and career of Trejo. It’s a quick but reasonably enjoyable overview.

The disc opens with ads for Dead in Tombstone, Guns, Girls & Gambling, the Transformers theme park attraction, Grimm, Hit and Run, End of Watch and Silent Hill. No trailer for Inferno pops up here.

A second disc delivers a DVD Copy of Inferno. This provides a standard retail copy of the film, so it offers more value than it otherwise might.

I thought the first film in the series was poor, and Death Race 3: Inferno does nothing to elevate the franchise. It might actually be a crummier piece of work than the original, as it delivers nothing but hyperactive visuals with little point and no excitement. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and audio along with a decent set of bonus materials led by an engaging audio commentary. While the Blu-ray delivers a high-quality product, the movie itself flops.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main