CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS
I was never a huge fan of the original Paul Bartel/Roger Corman Death Race 2000, but I do have to confess a fondness for the Death Race franchise as rebooted for the 21st century. The first one, a spectacularly noisy and destructive vehicle for Jason Statham, I saw at precisely the right moment and it cheered me up immensely when I was feeling pretty miserable. Never mind the fact that it couldn't have been any more preposterous if it had been made with an all-badger cast, never mind that it's half as plausible as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, never mind the fact that it's so laddish and blokey that it makes The Expendables look like Sex And The City. For huge metal things smashing into each other, for explosions and fights and chases and car wrecks and hot chicks in skimpy vests, it's unbeatable. Even Death Race 2, a Stathamless prequel made for the home rental market, was more than decent enough in its crunchy violence and macho stupidity.
Well, Death Race 3: Inferno really is more of the same: Luke Goss returns as Carl Lucas, aka Frankenstein, the sport's top driver who only has to win one more Death Race to secure his freedom. But the franchise is bought out by evil Dougray Scott, who's not about to let his prize pay-per-view draw disappear that easily, even if it means killing him because anyone can wear the Frankenstein mask. Shipped off to South Africa for the first international race, Lucas and his crew not only have to avoid the other mad drivers in the Kalahari Desert and the slum townships, but Scott's increasingly desperate efforts to stop him. But Lucas has a plan....
Obviously, Death Race 3 is absolute nonsense. Once more it's aimed squarely at the Top Gear and lad's mag market: the navigators are all unfeasibly glamorous poledancer types who wear low-cut croptops all the time despite being convicted killers, and have to catfight each other to the death on a premium rate website in order to earn a place in one of the customised cars, while the drivers are all murderous ranting psychopaths and the show's producer thinks nothing of firing missiles into a township full of civilians.
To be honest: fun as these films may be, I think three is enough trips to the gas station and a Death Race 4 would be milking it too thinly (there isn't one listed on the IMDb as yet, happily). But for all the thundering idiocy and casual violence perpetrated pretty much from start to finish, it's still more than watchable dumbo crash-bang-wallop fare, and for a film that isn't remotely comedic, I laughed a lot at the full-on lunacy of it all. Brainless, reprehensible, but with a good cast (Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo also return) on hand, it's impossible not to enjoy.