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Don Michael Paul
Zach McGowan, Danny Glover, Danny Trejo
Writing Credits:
Don Michael Paul, Tony Giglio

After an attack on inmate Frankenstein fails, a Black Ops specialist enters the maximum prison to join the illegal Death Race and take down Frankenstein.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 10/2/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Don Michael Paul and Actor Zach McGowan
• “Inside the Anarchy” Featurette
• “On the Streets” Featurette
• “Time Served” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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Death Race: Beyond Anarchy [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 27, 2018)

In 2008, Death Race offered a remake of 1975’s low-budget cult classic Death Race 2000, and the 21st century film spawned a handful of direct-to-video sequels. 2017’s Death Race 2050 claimed to reboot the series, which meant it pretended its modern-day siblings didn’t exist. Death Race: Beyond Anarchy to bring a sequel to 2050, right? Wrong - Anarchy appears to negate the existence of 2050 entirely, as it seems to give us a direct sequel to 2012’s Death Race 3: Inferno.

Confused? I am, but ultimately none of this likely matters much, as few watch Death Race movies for deep characters and seamless plot continuity.

In the no-holds-barred world of the illegal “Death Race”, masked driver “Frankenstein” (Velislav Pavlov) rules supreme. Frankenstein survives at attempt on his life and authorities become more desperate to end his reign, as they fear his influence on ordinary civilians.

To this end, Black Ops Specialist Connor Gibson (Zach McGowan) goes undercover in prison. He intends to join the Death Race and find a way to beat Frankenstein once and for all.

I’m so confused – wasn’t Frankenstein the hero of the prior films? Or at least the anti-hero for whom we cheered? Do we now intend to see him as a villain? How does this make sense?

As I noted earlier, Death Race movies don’t come with air-tight plotting or characters, so I shouldn’t feel too put out by these perplexing developments. And yet, the shift in Frankenstein’s persona from the prior films to Anarchy makes so little obvious sense that it does feel tough to reconcile.

Sure, the entire franchise frequently tells us that anyone can “wear the mask” and become Frankenstein. Different characters have been Frank over the series, so maybe the current version simply lacks the heroic capabilities of his predecessors.

It still doesn’t feel right, though. After all these movies in which the audience gets asked to side with Frank, suddenly we need to view him as the antagonist, and it doesn’t work.

Not that a more consistent character thrust would make Anarchy a good movie, as it suffers from a slew of additional flaws. One look at director Don Michael Paul’s filmography shows that he’s the King of the Direct-to-Video Sequel, with a slew of them under his belt.

I’d guess studios hand him the reins to these films less because of his directorial talents and more because he works fast and on the cheap. Paul’s other movies display little cinematic flair, and Anarchy continues that trend.

Honestly, Anarchy feels less like a movie and more like a random compilation of action-oriented music videos. We go from one overwrought, slow-motion scene of mayhem to another, all without a lick of real continuity or excitement.

Paul mistakes grinding music and dramatic camerawork for actual action and thrills. He allows Anarchy to resemble a feature film but its over-reliance on style means that none of the material impacts the viewer.

Most of the actors look like outcasts from a Mad Max movie, and with over the top performances across the board, they behave that way, too. Veterans Danny Glover and Danny Trejo just punch the clock here, and the lesser-known performers fail to bring life to their roles.

On the positive side, Anarchy comes with a lot of nudity, so I can’t hate it too much. Unfortunately, other than the occasional titillating element, the movie flops. Even a slew of attractive naked women can’t redeem this clunker.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Death Race: Beyond Anarchy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer presented the film in an appealing manner.

Sharpness looked good. A smidgen of softness hit some wider shots, but those instances remained insubstantial, so the majority of the flick showed fine clarity and accuracy.

Jaggies and shimmering failed to distract, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also lacked any source flaws and was consistently clean.

In terms of colors, Anarchy went with standard orange and teal most of the time, though they veered toward the desaturated side of the street. The hues never stood out as memorable, but they were fine for this story’s choices.

Blacks were pretty deep, and shadows were well-depicted – an important factor given the potentially murky interior settings. The image offered a “B+” presentation.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it created an active environment one would expect from a film of this sort. When the action heated up, the mix reflected that and used the spectrum well.

Music filled the various channels in a satisfying manner, and effects fleshed out the spectrum in a logical way. Aggressive and loud, the track used the soundfield in a forceful manner.

Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and natural, while effects remained accurate and full-bodied.

Music was vibrant and dynamic. Despite its direct-to-video origins, the soundtrack fared nicely.

We get a handful of extras here, and we start with an audio commentary from director/co-writer Don Michael Paul and actor Zach McGowan. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, stunts and action, vehicles, music, sets and locations, visual design and related domains.

Why does it feel like commentaries for bad movies come packed with more happy talk than discussions for good films? This probably isn’t accurate, and it likely just seems this way because of the contrast between the poor quality of the flick and the raves those involved throw at it, but it sure seems to happen a lot.

This means Paul and McGowan throw tons of plaudits at Anarchy. Along the way, they still manage to provide a good number of nuggets about the film’s creation, so at least they balance the fluff with useful content. The high level of praise makes the track tough to take at times, though.

Three featurettes ensue, and we open with Inside the Anarchy. It goes for five minutes, 50 seconds and offers notes from Paul, McGowan, producer Mike Elliott, and actors Danny Glover, Cassie Clare, Velislav Pavlov, Lucy Aarden, Fred Koehler, Christine Marzano and Danny Trejo.

“Inside” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, vehicles, locations, stunts and action. This becomes a passable but fairly superficial overview of the production.

Time Served: Lists & Goldberg lasts three minutes, one second and features Koehler, Paul, Elliott, and Trejo. As implied by the title, “Served” covers the characters played by Trejo and Koehler. It becomes a one-dimensional puff piece.

Finally, On the Streets of Death Race: Beyond Anarchy spans two minutes, 45 seconds and includes comments from Paul, Elliott, Trejo, Marzano and McGowan. We learn a little more about cars and stunts in this short, perfunctory reel.

The disc opens with ads for Dead Again in Tombstone and Cult of Chucky. No trailer for Anarchy appears here.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Anarchy. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Maybe someday we’ll get an entertaining Death Race movie, but Beyond Anarchy offers another stinker. Loud, grating and pointless, the movie forces graphic violence down our throats and lacks any form of coherence or excitement. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio along with a smattering of supplements. Despite the franchise’s potential for thrills, Anarchy becomes yet another dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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