12th Oct2020

‘Fast & Fierce: Death Race’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Michael DeVorzon, Paulina Nguyen, Veronika Issa, DMX, Jack Pearson, Nate Walker, Becca Buckalew, Gigi Gustin, Nick Ryan, Adrian Avila, Nora Harriet | Written by Mark Atkins, Marc Gottlieb | Directed by Jared Cohn

[NOTE: With the film finally releasing on DVD in the UK, here’s a reposting of our Fast and Fierce: Death Race review from its US VOD release earlier this year]

What’s that? A racing film from The Asylum? By any chance was the release of Fast and Fierce: Death Race supposed to coincide with the debut of the new Fast & Furious movie? Thankfully for The Asylum they don’t have to worry about cinematic release windows being closed due to the global pandemic and instead can plow forward with their release hitting the market BEFORE the blockbuster this film seeks to emulate ever sees the light of day! But will the gamble pay off? Can a mockbuster stand on its own two feet without a Hollywood film to hand its hook on? Of course it can! After all, you only need a similar title to fool people for a second whilst they put it in their basket at the supermarket!

Also, it seems The Asylum have followed the Fast & Furious franchise in streamlining their titles too. We’ve had THE Fast and THE Fierce (in 2017), so now we just get Fast & Fierce – though both films are TOTALLY unrelated. Talk about confusing people, The Asylum are confusing their own fanbase here too! Why isn’t this a sequel to the 2017 film? Or are we in the original Fast & Furious territory, where the title is the only connecting link between the film? Judging by this film it’s clearly the latter. For whilst the 2017 film was a riff on Speed, Fast and Fierce: Death Race is more of  a riff on the 2014 Need For Speed movie (and there’s ZERO connection, thematically or otherwise to the Death Race franchise).

This film follows Jack Tyson (Michael DeVorzon), a mechanic in Mexico, who agrees to partaking in an illegal Mexico to California car race to clear his younger brothers debts. During the race a desperate woman, fleeing from her abusive gangster boyfriend who is financing the tournament (played by DMX), jumps into his car pleading for his help and who has an incriminating USB drive that could send her thug boyfriend, among others, to prison.

Let’s get this one out of the way first. In a shocking twist, Fast and Fierce: Death Race does NOT feature any of The Asylum’s trademark poor CGI. In fact if there is any CGI here it’s used sparingly. Instead we’re treated to an actual real (well as real as a movie can get) series of street races; much like we got in the original Fast & Furious film. Beyond that there’s the convoluted extra plotting that sees DMX’s gangster Davie being kidnapped by “cops” and Davie’s second in command Gillian (Veronika Issa), taking the reins to both a) put together a team rescue her boss Davie; and b) stop Jack at all costs. In other words, expect an extended cameo from DMX rather than a starring role!

Helmed by genre, and The Asylum, veteran Jared Cohn and co-written by Mark Atkins and Marc Gottlieb (who together also penned the fantastic Planet of the Sharks), Fast and Fierce: Death Race is that rare breed of The Asylum film: one that balances action with storytelling, focuses on its characters who are (for once) well-rounded individuals, and presents a gripping, thrilling tale. Ignore the usual trappings of film from The Asylum – the stunt casting of DMX in a headline role and the cash-in title – and you have a solid, if low-budget, action flick that could stand on its own two feet if The Asylum would ever let it… and if the script didn’t quote verbatim from Fast & Furious!

**½ 2.5/5

Fast and Fierce: Death Race is available on DVD now from Dazzler Media.

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