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In this 2008 film, Jensen Ames (Creator/JasonStatham) finds himself in prison, forced to compete in the Death Race, a brutal three-day closed-course pay-per-view event. The race features armored cars with machine guns, flamethrowers, missiles, oil slicks, smokescreens and everything else a group of prison thug grease-monkeys can think to attach to a vehicle...

A much {{darker and edgier}} film than the original ''Film/DeathRace2000'', which was more of a [[BlackComedy grisly comedy]]. The 2008 version did away with everything in the original except the theme of a killer car race, the names of the two champions (Frankenstein and Machine Gun Joe) and the fact that Frankenstein was not the original, but another driver in the same mask. As a quick tribute, David Carradine, who was Frankenstein in the old film, voiced "Old Frank" in this one (for a couple of lines).

A DirectToVideo prequel was released in 2010, and a DTV sequel ''to'' the prequel was released in 2013. The prequels follow Carl "Luke" Lucas (Luke Goss), a bookie and bank robber who becomes Death Race's first champion and the original Frankenstein.

!!This film contains examples of:

* TheAlcatraz:
** Terminal Island. Escape isn't even dreamed of; even if you're a Death Racer, there are electric killswitches on the cars and guns, the guard towers are all fortified and have bigger arms than the cars, and, of course, it's an ''island'' -- only way in or out is the long bridge that connects it to the mainland.
** Kalahari Prison in the third movie. As one of the guards puts it, "You try to escape, the desert will kill you before we do!" [[spoiler:Lucas, Katrina, and Goldberg manage to escape by the end of the movie, though they don't contend with the desert.]]
* AnAssKickingChristmas
* AngstySurvivingTwin: Joker's navigator in the third movie is one of a pair of serial killer twins. Her sister dies in her arms during the "Navigator Wars" competition, and she's very brooding and antisocial afterwards.
* AntiHero: Jensen is a rough-and-tumble character mainly motivated by revenge who nonetheless has a slew of human qualities.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: Hennessey pulls a couple out on Jensen.
-->'''Hennessey:''' "What would you do with your freedom? Go back to your daughter?"
-->'''Jensen:''' "That's the idea."
-->'''Hennessey:''' "Thing is... are you really the best future she could possibly have? Are you really "daddy material," or deep down are you something else?"
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: Big Bill's rapsheet reads "Robbery, Assault, Arson, Sexual Abuse, ''Income Tax Evasion'', Kidnapping, ''Possession''."
* AscendedExtra: 14K was one of the dead-meat drivers in the first movie, but his roles in the prequels makes him the only driver in all three.
%%* AssholeVictim: The other drivers.
* BackseatDriver: Joker's navigator in ''3'' is constantly bossing him around and criticizing his driving.
* BadAss: Frankenstein, Machine Gun Joe, and even the Warden qualifies; she walks through the prison yard unarmed and remains untouched. The other drivers would be... if they lasted longer. 14K becomes one in the prequels, [[spoiler: he's also the last of the other Drivers to die]].
* BadassBookworm: Lists is a subdued version, he manages to save Jensen from Pachenko though he is quickly overpowered. He manages to get a few moments in the sequel as well.
* TheBait: [[spoiler: Case is this in the end, to allow Jensen to escape as amends to the old Frankenstein]].
* BatmanGambit: The Warden, while clearly in control, walks a very dangerous line. If Frankenstein wins, she is rid of Machine Gun Joe, [[spoiler:activates the bomb, and finds herself a new Frank]]. If Joe wins, she is rid of [[spoiler:Jensen, finds herself a new Frank, and disposes of Joe during his fifth race]]. If Frankenstein agrees to stay on board after his fifth win, she's guaranteed a long and continuous payday. One thing prevents it from being a XanatosGambit. The fail condition? [[spoiler:If Jensen reveals her "dirty little secret" to anyone]]. That gave him an incredible amount of power that he ultimately decided [[spoiler:not to use, and instead escaped and had her blown sky high]].
* BigBadassRig: The Dreadnought. Joker and Nero drive absolutely massive trucks in ''3'', with a tank turret and an Anti-Air cannon as their respective weapons.
* BilingualBonus: 14K. Especially his dying words (in English, translated with an equivalent ''Mandarin'' phrase in the subtitles).
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Most likely The Warden in the 2008 film. Definitely September Jones in the DirectToVideo prequel.
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: Not counting anything before the first race, Siad fits the bill.
* BloodSport: The glorious, gory idea behind the Death Races themselves.
* BossSubtitles: Used to introduce the significant drivers in every movie. In the second movie, even the RedShirt drivers get their own cool intros. In the third movie they even do it to 14k, despite the fact that he's the only driver in all three movies.
* BookEnds: The second movie starts with an unnamed but attractive woman swimming in Marcus Kane's swimming pool at his mansion. [[spoiler:Within a few minutes of the end, we go back to said pool, only this time, thanks to Triad honour, Kane's body is floating in it while the gunman puts a few extra bullets into him just to be sure.]]
* BreakingTheFourthWall:
--> '''Coach''': "I love this game."
* BreakTheHaughty: This happens to the Warden, to the point where she starts swearing... and "foul language is an issue" for her.
* TheCameo: David Carradine, as mentioned above.
* CarFu: how the driver tend to kill each other.
%%* CatapultNightmare
%%* ChekhovsBoomerang: The seat ejector.
%%* ChekhovsGun: The cigarette lighter.
* TheChessmaster: Hennessey has a way of placing pawns exactly where she needs them.
* ClusterFBomb: The Warden, at the end. [[{{Irony}} Who despises profanity.]]
%%* CondemnedContestant
* CoolMask: The production team went through several designs before they settled on the final one.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: The Warden. Niles York in ''3''. Averted by Weyland, who owns Terminal Island in ''2'', played straight by September Jones however.
* DarkerAndEdgier: The film is this compared to the original.
* DarkestAfrica: The setting of the third movie, with the inmates residing at a prison in the Kalahari desert. The prisoners work in mines and the guards keep hyenas as guard dogs. During the races, local bandits even fulfill the classic "angry/savage natives" role. Interestingly, it was shot on location, and Satana, the guards, and all of the new drivers are played by local talent.
* DeadpanSnarker: Joker in the third movie, hence the name.
* DescriptionPorn: Nearly everything Lists describes gets this treatment, such as the RPG-7s on Machine Gun Joe's truck and the other drivers.
* DirtyBusiness: Case is in prison because she killed a good cop... good cop, lousy husband that is.
* TheDogBitesBack: In the third movie, [[spoiler:Niles York's put-upon assistant Prudence keeps her mouth shut when a burned York is mistaken for Frankenstein and sent to Terminal Island.]] And [[spoiler:his mistreated lover Satana organized the whole thing.]]
* DomesticAbuser: Case implies her husband was one, leading her to kill him. Jensen is framed as one, and Coach mentions at one point that he's met "his share" of them.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Frankenstein has a [[Franchise/FridayThe13th Jason Voorhees]] vibe.
** More than a hint of Music/{{Slipknot}} too mask combined with a one-piece racing/boiler suit.
* TheDreaded: Warden Hennessey is a female correctional officer presiding over a prison filled with murderers and rapists. [[EstablishingCharacterMoment Her first scene]] has her take an unguarded walk through the yard, with not a single convict daring to lay a hand on her. One of them declares to his buddy [[VillainCred his love for how ruthless she is]].
* DriverFacesPassenger: Jensen can spend an awful long time looking at Case when they're talking for such a treacherous track and its deadly drivers.
* {{Dystopia}}: High crime and unemployment rates, and a high-rated television program is people murdering each other.
* EasilyForgiven: [[spoiler: Jensen coerces Case into confessing her sabotage of the races, and does absolutely nothing about it despite her having actively attempted to ruin his reunion with his daughter and accidentally getting his predecessor killed. Didn't even say a word]]. Possibly [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in that [[spoiler: she was doing exactly what everybody else was doing: trying to get her freedom. And he needed her for the rest of the race]].
* EatingTheEyeCandy:
** Case mentions that Jensen looks better than [[spoiler:the old Frank]].
** Also played straight with several men scoping out the navigators, including Gunner and Lists.
** At one point in the third movie, Lists stares as if mesmerized at Katrina's cleavage.
%%* EpicRace
* EurekaMoment:
** September Jones has one when she sees Lucas driving a car around the prison yard; that's where she got the idea of Death Race.
** Lucas has one in the third movie when [[spoiler:Psycho asks if he's the first Frankenstein, and suggests that "Frankenstein" is a role that anyone could play. This gives him the idea of setting up Niles York to be mistaken for Frankenstein.]]
* EvenEvilHasStandards:
** Pachenko pretends to be this; he tells the prisoners in the chow hall that Jensen was a wife-killer and a "kiddie rapist." This from an Aryan White Supremacist and mass murderer, [[spoiler: who killed Jensen's wife on the Warden's orders]].
** In the third movie, everyone is ''really'' creeped out by Psycho, who makes everything uncomfortably sexual. And it's implied he's in prison for sex crimes in the first place.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: Of course. It's a car movie so there are cars exploding all over the place.
* EvilVirtues: [=14K=] has fourteen deaths on his record and is a Triad member, but in a showing of Honour, he abides by the code of the Triads in the sequel - when Lucas saves his life, he owes Lucas a life in return. [[spoiler:When Lucas is believed killed on the orders of his old boss, [=14K=] calls in a few favours and gets a Triad gunman to leave said boss's bullet-riddled body in his own fancy pool.]]
* ExecutiveMeddling: In-universe, played completely straight by Hennessey's control of the races and her various attempts to rig them.
* ExplosiveLeash: How do you keep the prisoners from using their crazy cars to escape? Rig them to explode if they try! In the third movie the race has no boundaries, but straying off the intended course gets you an up-close and personal encounter with a heatseaking missile.
* TheFaceless: Frankenstein is supposed to be this.
* FakingTheDead: [[spoiler:Lucas' death is faked by September Jones in the second movie, to set him up as Frankenstein and assert control over him. In the third movie, Lucas fakes the deaths of Goldberg, Katrina, and Niles York as part of his escape plot.]]
* FalseReassurance: Hennessey gives Frankenstein signed release papers, telling him all he he has to do now is survive and win. She never mentions she's [[spoiler:changed the rules by planting a bomb or messing with the track, as she doesn't intend for him to do either]].
* {{Fanservice}}: The reason Case and all of the other female navigators are brought in. The third movie has a huge melee between female convicts to decide who gets to be a navigator, and it's made of this -- resident pervert Psycho is panting and wheezing throughout the event. The third movie also has the new producer Satana, who loves tight, revealing clothes.
* {{Frameup}}: Jensen didn't kill his wife; [[spoiler:Hennessey had Pachenko do it for her so she could get Jensen to be Death Race's new star]].
* GameShow: A particularly lethal one at that, with a clever mechanic to simulate the collection of power-ups that are seen in some racing video games.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Some of the ways the [[ScrewedByTheNetwork show tries to off their competitors]] tend to backfire, or take out the ''other'' ways it tries to off them. [[spoiler:The tanker-truck behemoth is taken out by a Death Head option placed to take out the competitors and the Warden gets killed by the explosive she tried to kill Frankenstein with]].
* IChooseToStay: Lists when [[spoiler:the team escaped in 3. He had been institutionalized, being more comfortable in prison society than that of a free man]]. Which is why he was in Death Race 1. Also Coach in the first film.
* InNameOnly: Apart from the fact that it features characters named "Frankenstein" and "Machine Gun Joe" in a race that combines BloodSport with CarFu.
* ItsPersonal: Machine Gun Joe ''really'' hates Frankenstein.
* KarmicDeath: Hennessy straps a bomb under Jensen's car before the final race, but Coach removes it in time. He later sends it back to her gift-wrapped and detonates it in her office, killing her and TheDragon.
* LastNameBasis: Hennessey has a first name (all we know is that it starts with 'C'), but everyone calls her "Ma'am" or by her last name.
* LastOfHisKind: It's joked that Goldberg is "the last Mexican Jew", and that he "killed all the rest."
* LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn: Early in the last race of the third movie, a cool rap song starts playing. Then Psycho tells his navigator to change the station, and as soon as she does, the background music is replaced with a driving techno track.
* LegacyImmortality: Up to a certain point. [[spoiler:The "Frankenstein" identity has been held by several convicts over the course of Death Race, with replacements coming in every time one of them dies.]] In the third movie, Psycho incorrectly assumes that this has already been happening for some time, and inadvertently gives [[spoiler:Lucas]] the idea of replacing [[spoiler:Frankenstein]] in the first place.
* LudicrousGibs: Pretty Boy meets his end when he's blown up by a heatseeking missile. He wasn't in his car at the time, so you see bits of him flying well offscreen and easily a hundred feet into the air.
%%* MaleGaze:
* MadeOfExplodium: Apparently detached gasoline tanks are.
* [[ManipulativeBastard Manipulative Bitch]]: The Warden in the 2008 film. Markus Kane, and ''especially'', September Jones in the 2010 prequel.
%%* ManlyGay: Machine Gun Joe.
* ManOnFire: [[spoiler:Colt]]. [[spoiler:Psycho]] dies from fire in the third movie, ironically inches away from a lake.
* MauveShirt: Travis Colt turns out to be this. A little more attention is paid to him in the promos, and it's mentioned he's a record-holding ex-NASCAR driver which makes him "technically the best" out of the group. They set him up to be a long-runner, and he gets napalmed in the first race. 14K and Grimm also fall under this trope.
* MeaningfulName: Jensen Ames, like the car (Jensen Interceptor). Also, Hector Grimm, who of course takes up the moniker of "Grimm Reaper."
* MerchandiseDriven: In-universe, Death Race is this. According to York, Weyland makes around 8 million dollars a week on Frankenstein merchandise alone. As York points out, even though Frankenstein is one race away from freedom, he can't afford to just let him go.
* MenAreTheExpendableGender:
** The precise reason why Machine Gun Joe gets male navigators. Also played straight with the drivers. The women ''are'' used as body fodder just as much as the men, but it's only fully averted when 14K's navigator dies up close. The rest of the girls get a GoryDiscretionShot.
** In-universe, only Frankenstein's pit crew seem to play this trope straight, as theirs is the only car shown to be equipped with an ejector seat for its navigator.
** In the third movie, Psycho's navigator Amber is the only survivor of the Death Race outside of Frankenstein, 14K, and their navigators and pit crews. Granted, it's also the only movie with a female driver, Olga, who also has a female navigator.
* MissionControl: This is Coach, Goldberg, and Lists' function for Frankenstein.
%%* TheMockbuster: ''DeathRacers''
* MightGlacier: The Dreadnought in the first film. A big rig and tanker-trailer converted to be heavily armored, covered in spikes, and armed with everything up to and including a tank turret. However, it weighs as much as that suggests, meaning it can barely keep up with racers and can't maneuver at all, to the point it needs to use off-track shortcuts to bypass parts of a fairly simple circuit. [[spoiler: It fact it's so lumbering two cars manage to force it into a course hazard with basic coordination.]]
%%* MoreDakka
* MrFanservice: Jason Statham in the first film.
** A naked Luke Goss in the prequel.
* MrViceGuy: Jensen, who realizes that he's not a perfect person and therefore not a perfect father, but he loves his daughter and he's not going to let go of his "chance at something else, something better." He also genuinely loved his wife.
* MsFanservice: Case in the first movie, September Jones and Katrina in the second, and Satana, Katrina, and Amber in the third.
* NeckSnap: Happens to [[spoiler: Pachenko]]. Lucas finishes off two attackers this way in very quick succession in the Kalahari mine fight.
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Jensen gives one of these to Pachenko, for good reason.
* NotWhatItLooksLike: Everybody initially gets the wrong idea when Jensen tells Case to get on his lap, including an uncomfortable Case.
%%* OhCrap: Plenty of these scattered around.
* TheOldConvict: Coach, played by Ian [=McShane=]!
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: 14K, Pachenko, Lists, Gunner, and Coach. Extends to most of the drivers in the second and third movies, namely Sheik, Apache, Scarface, Hillbilly, Razor, Psycho, Joker, and Pretty Boy.
* OutsideRide: Apache does this during the first race of the second movie. He has his navigator take the wheel as he climbs to the roof of his car, leaps onto another car, and stabs its driver in the neck. He then hops back onto, and in, his own car.
* PowerUp:
** A rare non-videogame example. The cars' weapons are initially locked and must be activated by running over magnetically-active pads with simple symbols: sword for offensive, shield for defensive and such. But the skull pads activate a BoobyTrap.
** The second and third movies both have cage fights where fighters step on sword panels to get weapons, as well.
** The third movie switches it up -- there are no defensive power-ups or traps, and to get your weapons activated you have to drive through a gate rather than over a pad. And some of the gates can only be used once.
* PrecisionFStrike: The inmates are not shy about their language, but to hear it comes from ''Joan Allen''?
* PreMortemOneLiner: Played straight and subverted multiple times, but most notably:
-->'''[[spoiler:Pachenko]]:''' "Let me go man. I'll do anything."
-->'''Jensen:''' "You're gonna die here."
%%* ThePenIsMightier
* PrettyBoy:
** One of the drivers in the third movie is nicknamed Pretty Boy, and looks the part. He's a coward who leaves his navigator for dead after his car flips.
** Luke is called "Pretty Boy" by Katrina in the prequel. Later, [[spoiler:as Frankenstein]], he asks if she was expecting another pretty boy.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: 14K is described as one in the second movie, following a code of honor alien to most of the characters.
* TheQuietOne: Frankenstein doesn't talk to the other drivers to preserve the mystique.
* RageAgainstTheReflection: During the ending in Death Race 2, Frankenstein punches the mirror after watching his face disfigured.
%%* RatedMForManly
%%* RealityShow: Type III.
* RealityEnsues: In the first film [[spoiler:Hennessey has her [[TheDragon Dragon]] wire Frankenstein's car to blow, and he does so by... ordering his pit crew out of the space during prep time and sticking a simplistic and very obvious bomb to the car's undercarriage. The car belonging to a head mechanic so attached to the vehicle he remains in prison voluntarily. How did he think it '''wouldn't''' be found and disarmed?]]
* RecycledInSpace: ''Film/TheRunningMan'' with [[CarFU A Car Race]], with other prisoners as the enemies instead of 'stalkers' - at first. In the second race, the Dreadnought comes out, which is basically the equivalent of the entire stalker stable in one chassis.
* RedShirt:
** Carson and Riggins, neither of whom actually appear except to be killed by the Dreadnought. They're not even mentioned when the team tells Jensen about the opposition. Siad is also one of these, but he at least gets a few seconds on screen.
** Pretty much all of Machine Gun Joe's navigators. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by Ames' pit crew when they say that Joe had lost so many female navigators, it [[{{Squick}} squicked]] out even Death Race's target audience and they started giving him male navigators instead. One poor bastard is smart enough about it that he had to be forced into Joe's truck kicking and screaming.
** Fury and Tazmanian Devil in the third movie, the only racers who have neither speaking lines or BossSubtitles. Jackal is killed trying to escape before the race even starts.
* RetCon: A few things in the prequels seem to retcon stuff mentioned in the first movie. For instance, Hennessey claims she invented Death Race in the first movie; in ''2'', September Jones comes up with the "Death Race" concept, and later remarks that Terminal Island's new warden, Hennessey, would probably take credit for the whole thing if she weren't around.
* RuleOfCool: Sole reason this is fun. Well, that and [[MsFanservice Case]].
--> '''Coach:''' It's all about the ratings; [[CoolCar Fast cars]] and [[MsFanservice pretty women]].
* RunningGag: Joe's navigators and their grisly demises. The audience knows something is up towards the end when his newest navigator is ''happy'' to be there, as if he hasn't been paying attention to what's going on, before the final [[TheReveal reveal]].
* ScaryBlackMan: Machine Gun Joe. Inmates are terrified of him. Weyland in the prequels, by virtue of being played by the hulking Ving Rhames. Big Bill in ''2'', the most dangerous fighter in Death Match.
* [[UsefulNotes/{{Skinheads}} Skinheads]]: Pachenko and his brood are Aryan Brotherhood, as is Xander Grady in ''2''.
* SmugSnake: Hennessey, all the way.
* SpikedWheels: [[spoiler:The Dreadnought]] is equipped with these on the wheel hubs, using them to skewer 14K's navigator.
* SpottingTheThread: Machine Gun Joe finally figures out who Frankenstein is when he hears him speak.
* TheStinger:
-->[[spoiler: '''Hennessey:''' "Okay cocksucker. Fuck with me, and we'll see who shits on the sidewalk."]]
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Lucas in the prequels is this to Jensen. Doesn't make sense for Jensen (and thus Jason Statham) to be in a prequel? Just get a different white British guy with a shaved head and PermaStubble. There's a lot of key character differences, but it can't be a coincidence that they look and sound similar. Similarly, Katrina is the substitute Case
* TakeAThirdOption:
** [[spoiler:Jensen and Machine Gun Joe team up and escape rather than try to kill each other]].
** In the third movie, [[spoiler:Lucas and Satana work together on an elaborate escape that also functions as a revenge plot against the power-mad Niles York, rather than keep playing by York's rules]].
* TankGoodness: It's not technically a tank, but Joker's massive truck in the third movie has a tank turret as its weapon. The gun extends through the cab, which obviously means the turret can't be rotated.
** [[spoiler:The Dreadnought]] also has a rear-mounted tank turret that's used to kill anyone snagged on its spike strips.
* TemptingFate:
-->'''Grimm:''' "Fuckin' Reaper baby! Can't kill me. You can burn me... heh... you can fuckin' shoot me but you just can't motherfuckin' kill me!"
* ThisIsForEmphasisBitch: It sort of loses its punch after it's used so many times.
* TitleDrop: Done by the "promos" in the first film.
* TheTriadsAndTheTongs: 14K, tenth generation Triad.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: The film is set in 2012, and was made in 2008. By the third movie, which is a prequel, this is reversed -- it was made in 2012, released in early 2013, and set a year or two before the first one.
* TheUnmasking: Luke loses his Frankenstein mask during a prison brawl when he first arrives at Kalahari in the third movie. This reveals his identity to his pit crew and navigator, who thought him dead after the events of the second movie. They remain bitter about being lied to until just about halfway through the film.
* UnspokenPlanGuarantee: The amount of co-ordination required for [[spoiler:Joe and Jenson to take out the Dreadnought]] would have required a lot of radio discussion, but we never hear anything beyond "How about we play a little offence."
* VehicularCombat: Par of the course with armour-plated cars equipped with guns and caltrops.
* VillainousBreakdown: When [[spoiler:Jenson and Joe break out of the track's confines and head for freedom]], Hennessey starts shouting and swearing.
* WardensAreEvil: Warden Hennessey of Terminal Island Prison is a cold-hearted bitch which [[AnOfferYouCantRefuse shanghais]] [[BoxedCrook Jensen]] [[JasonStatham Ames]] ([[FrameUp in more ways than one]]) into taking part of the titular DeadlyGame (and plans to either keep him racing forever or [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness kill him as soon as his usefulness as the season's Frankenstein is over]]-[[TheCakeIsALie not that she had a plan to have]] ''[[TheCakeIsALie anybody]]'' [[TheCakeIsALie win]]). The {{Prequel}} movies also [[RetCon retroactively]] show that she had some amount of SmallNameBigEgo-she says on the first movie that ''she'' was the creator of Death Race, but in reality it was the [[MegaCorp corpo]][[CorruptCorporateExecutive ration]] she works for, [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow and they knew]] she would take credit [[GladIThoughtOfIt around anybody who could buy it]].
* WeaponizedCar: Every car in the first film, part of the game rules of Death Race.
* WinYourFreedom: In the first film, if a racer wins 5 racers, he will be freed. Hennessey tries to make sure that doesn't happen. (see executive meddling entry)
* WrenchWench: The female navigators are all brought in to help run the cars. Played straight with Case, who wields an actual wrench to fix to guns at one point.
* YouHaveFailedMe: Machine Gun Joe is shown to play this straight with all his male navigators.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness:
** When one of Joe's navigators incorrectly identifies a deactivated Sword panel as being lit, Joe angrily tells him to get out of the car and then proceeds to kick him out and into steel railing.
** [[spoiler: Hennessey attempts to do this with Jensen]].