Death Race was many miles away from reaching the same levels of black humor and intelligence from the original Death Race 2000, but it nevertheless kept me entertained mainly thanks to its main actor and the violent automotive sequences. And even though there did not seem to be too much material for a sequel, the studio Universal did not vacillate to exploit the home market with Death Race 2, released straight-to-DVD. Strictly speaking, this is not a sequel, but a prequel, something which allows a better distribution of the low budget with which it was made. That's the reason why Death Race 2 leaves the stunts for the ending (with one exception), while it skilfully uses the first hour to establish the origin of the death races, as well as the motivations from the villains and the anti-hero. And I have to say that the final result is a very entertaining experience.
The premise from Death Race 2 avoided to become into a simple rehash of Death Race. I particularly liked to see the fact that the "hero" is not an unfairly accused martyr, nor he is trying to prove his innocence. The main character voluntarily participated in a crime with disastrous consequences and his conviction in the jail is justified; that is the way in which the cruelty from the "real" villains is accentuated, because their total lack of conscience is not illegal...just lucrative. Talking about the villains, the cover from the DVD prominently mentions the presence from the excellent actors Sean Bean and Ving Rhames. Unfortunately, my expectations of seeing them interpreting main characters was unfounded, because they both interpret supporting characters who are not seen involved in the action. That is a pity, because that leaves Luke Goss as the main actor by default, and he is a bit insipid and not very charismatic in his role. I would have undoubtedly preferred to have seen Bean or Rhames in that role.
Despite Goss' weak performance, I enjoyed Death Race 2 pretty much because of the screenplay, Roel Reiné's dynamic direction and the delirious scenes of action, violence and big explosions. Those sequences are very exciting and well filmed.
In conclusion, Death Race 2 is a very competent action film with which I took a pleasant surprise, and I recommend it if you are looking for having an exciting and very entertaining time.
Review by Argemaluco from the Internet Movie Database.