YMMV / Death Race

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Some people believe that she actually means it when she implies that she wants to give inspiration to the audience and move them, and simply views manipulating Jensen into participating as a means to a positive end. Hennessey intends it as a genuine gesture of goodwill, rather that using something "hard to come by" to her advantage as a hook for higher viewers and therefore higher profits.
  • Complete Monster: The smug, ruthless female prison warden Hennessey is introduced casually strolling through the yard unguarded to show how much even the worst inmates fear her. She rebuilt the Terminal Island prison to include a car race track where the prisoners perform death races with the promise of being released after winning five times, broadcasting the event to make a hefty profit. The racers and their female navigators die in the most brutal and graphic ways in the races, getting run over, blown up, or gutted by each other or Hennessey's armored trucks. She arranges to kill anyone close to making the quotum as she did with the original Frankenstein, a mask-wearing crowd favorite. She orders the innocent Jensen's wife killed and frames him for it, then once he's in her prison blackmails him with his daughter's well being to force him to take up Frankenstein's mantle. While the movie takes place in a Crapsack World, Hennessey simply uses her power to be as brutal as she can be to prove her superiority and butchers people for profit.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Jensen brutally beating up the man who murdered his wife twice and later, defeats him in vehicular combat by turning his car to face him head on so they can both unload their machine into each other face to face, despite his partner warning him that his opponent's car was more heavily armed. Luckily, this turns out to be a trick to goad the scumbag into being blast by Jensen smoke-screen, causing him to crash, at which point Jensen slams his car door into him as he's crawling out, before personally snapping his neck.
  • Faux Symbolism: The United States economy collapses in 2012, the year the world is supposed to end according to superstition. They also throw in Grimm's belief that Hennessey is an avatar of the Hindu goddess of death, Kali.
  • Fridge Logic: The Dreadnought comes out during the second day of the race and tries to kill everybody, and very nearly succeeds. ... What was Hennessy going to do for the third day of the race? Just have it drive around the track by itself firing of weapons at nothing?
    • Coach was probably correct that she'd have called it off before then. Possibly she'd been planning for the last racer alive to face the Dreadnought one-on-one in the final contest, and, of course, it would have won.
  • Ho Yay: Jensen and Machine Gun Joe. They end up living together in Mexico with Jensen's daughter.
    • And there's that one guard that seems to love watching Jensen do just about anything...
    • The second movie is full of it, as YMS points out in his review.
  • Spiritual Licensee: This would've made an excellent version of Twisted Metal! It was absolutely brilliant how they devised away to adapt the weapons pick-ups often found in video games of the Wacky Racing genre — electric sensors in the ground that when turned on and driven over, deactivate the kill switch, thus allowing them to be used. A great way to fake the "transfer" of weapons from one car to another.