Death Race 3 – Inferno (critique and analysis)

by subacati

Direct To Video means low budget, minimal plot and no real storyline. I get that, I really do, but does it need to be as bad as this? …

Warning – This review contains spoilers.

Okay, so here I received a copy of this Direct To Video low budget film. It's set in South Africa and film entirely on location, and partly in the location! :p
( :sst: That's a South African joke. If you're not South African, laugh anyway before someone notices! :whistle: )

Much of the film transpires in or around a rather poorly constructed prison that is supposedly in the middle of the Kalahari dessert! Of course, the location used for the prison is an old abandoned quarry cut into a mountain surrounded by a forrest of trees! So it's nowhere near the real Kalahari! πŸ™„

The prison is first introduced by the lead villain as, "The Kalahari Desert Maximum Security Penitentiary."
Now we have never used the term "penitentiary" in South Africa and I doubt we ever will! :left:
We have two C-Max Prisons in South Africa, One in Tswane (Pretoria) and one in Kokstad. All the other prisons are Medium prisons. (Medium prisons are internally sub-divided into medium (short sentence) and maximum (long sentence) sections and prisons)
We also have two privately owned prisons that house only long term maximum prisoners. One in Louie Trichardt and the other in Bloemfontein.

Of course, this is irrelevant to the movie which blatantly ignores reality, and the South African Constitution, in the name of shameless and gratuitously graphic 'entertainment'.

So, fast-forward to the arrival of the prisoners, contestants in the death races, in South Africa. Where they are transported from Cape Town to the Kalahari prison in the back of an unmarked Casspir. I doubt that Casspirs have ever been used to transport prisoners as they lock from the inside! :p
The prisoners are shown to be shackled with some kind of hybrid between handcuffs and chains. This type of handcuff is not used in South Africa, and I doubt it would be used anywhere as it would provide a handy weapon when wrapped around a guard's neck! πŸ™„
The entrance to the Kalahari Prison appears to be in the side of Table Mountain which is surprising on two accounts. The Kalahari is flat like a pancake and nowhere near Table Mountain! :p
Of course, this first introduction to the entrance of the prison lacks continuity with later scenes, where the entrance shown is clearly of a different location. πŸ™„

Cut to the scene within the tunnel where prisoners, mostly white males, are seen to be doing some sort of manual labour. (mining?) This certainly is no modern prison where prisoners have rights and slave labour is illegal. The inmates are guarded by what appears to be military personnel in camo and maroon berets. (the insignia bears the letters 'KMSP' which has no identifiable meaning to me)
The logo resembles the SAPS 'shield' which can be seen on there official home page. (link: Except that the decal in the centre has been replaced with what looks suspiciously similar to a map of Texas! πŸ™„

Now, some of these details would have passed unnoticed except that glaring irregularities caused me to take a critical second look! :p A case in point, a perimeter guard is shown with a hyena on a leash. Hyenas are scavengers and, though they will hunt as a pack when hungry enough, tend to be cowards on their own. A hyena would not be a good alternative to the more traditional alsatian!

An interesting scene is where the prisoners are being led to their cages. They're led past a series of giant 'hamster wheels' where prisoners wearing dust masks are being used as human engines! While I can't figure out what the function is meant to be, this is really a weird form of slave labour that is far more fitting in a remake of Spartacus than a 'near future' action movie!
The prisoners are housed in safety cages similar to the type found surrounding industrial equipment. Real prisons have proper roundbar grill doors as well as solid doors. And in South Africa, we have communal cells, not individual rooms.

So, lets fast forward to the gladiator scene where a bunch of scantily clad, beautiful women chop each others heads off. Yes, gratuitous as it comes. This scene is clearly intended to appeal to a very narrow minded, juvenile, male audience. πŸ™„
(note: The women are constantly referred to as 'navigators' yet they never do anything useful throughout the movie)

So, lets jump forward to the start of the race. We begin at the entrance of the prison, which bares a striking resemblance to the Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker's North Portal. This is clearly inside a disused quarry that's surrounded by trees. Remember, this is meant to be in the middle of the Kalahari desert where the only trees you'll find are thorn trees and even those are few and far between! The first leg of the race takes the drivers to, "the sand dunes of Katbakkies Pass". Of course, in reality Katbakkies is in the Breede River valley and there are no sand dunes anywhere near there!

From there we jump to Kayelitsha in Cape Town, which the voice over commentator pronounces as "kerleesha". Note that the satellite display gives the coordinates for Kayelitsha as 44Β°32'28.05"N 27Β°54'19.22"E, which is a road in Romania. Couldn't they just spend five second on Google to get the real coordinates? (34Β°02β€²25β€³S 18Β°40β€²40β€³E)

One interesting scene has a clear shot of a sign board which, with the help of Google street view, allows us to pin-point the exact location of the scene.

Shortly after this, the driver are suddenly magically transported to 'Stilfontein', except that the scene is clearly in the bundu somewhere and the only Stilfontein I know of is a built-up area near Klerksdorp. :p
A reference is made to the fictitious "Warlords of the Kalahari" being responsible for 75% of organised crime in the region. The truth is that our criminal syndicates prefer to base themselves in the cities and surrounding townships! There aren't many people to murder, rape and rob out in the middle of the bundu! πŸ™„

And then were suddenly back at the old quarry,, eh sorry, the "Kalahari Prison" :p Having travelled at least 500km. Note that the earlier scene in Cape Town shows shadows that place the time at around the mid afternoon. Assuming that the prison is meant to be located in the middle of the Kalahari and not right on the outskirts of Cape Town, it should be well after dark by the time they reach it. And if they actually were to travel as far as Stilfontein from that spot, they could never have made it to Stillfontein before well into the night anyway! πŸ™„

Another issue with the "Kalahari Prison" is the size of the cockroaches. The Kalahari is a desert and it's too cold and dry there for cockroaches. In fact, cockroaches throughout the Western Cape seldom manage as much as a centimetre in length. The species of cockroach is also a mistake as that speceies is rare in most of South Africa. They're usually found in Moçambique an Madagascar.

The next leg of the race takes us to the Keiskie mountains in Northern Cape. This is near Calvinia. The satellite view in the movie again shows the wrong coordinates. (44Β°32'30"N 27Β°55'39"E instead of 31Β°37'51"S 19Β°51'14"E)
Of course, it is impossible to match up the fake satellite view from to movie to any real life features! 😦
Then, after a short battle in 'the dry lake', we head into Calvinia. The map in their Satellite view shows the new location not more than 100m away yet Calvinia is actually about 10km north of the Keiskie mountains. And the compass on the movie's satellite view shows the drivers travelling west. :left:

The voice over commentator calls the place "Calveena" instead of Calvinia. I think he may need spectacles if he can't even read the easy names correctly! :p

At this point I suspect that a South African was helping write the script. We see a stereotyped South African protest march against the Death Race competitors. This deteriorates rapidly into a violent conflict. (or starts out as one, depending on your interpretation)
BTW, is it just me or is it beyond far-fetched that, regardless of what kind of lawless anarchy would allow a tv show to exploit prisoners as gladiators, the race allows dangerous prisoners serving life sentences to drive weapon laden vehicles through heavily populated areas? :confused:
I quite liked the derogatory Afrikaans slogans on the protesters' sign boards though! :p There is some perverse satisfaction in knowing that most non South Africans that watched this movie could never quite appreciate the intensity of the insulting language! :p Muahaha! :devil:
The next town mentioned is Loeriesfontein. The commentator pronounces this as "louise von-tyne" which is either his ex-wife's name or he forgot to wear his spectacles again! :whistle:

And then we're back at the headquarters of "The Warlords of the Kalahari" again. If you remember, The last time we we in this same spot we were somewhere near Stilfontein. Now we're somewhere near Loeriesfontein.
Loeriesfontein is about 100km north of Calvinia. Stilfontein is about 500km ENE of Calvinia as the crow flies, but somewhat further if you intend using roads to get there.

The final stage of the race opens up to the sound of kwaito type rapp music. And suddenly we're at Redrock Road. (Table Mountain) About 400km south of where we were the previous day. (wow, I wish I had a car that could jump around the map like that!) Then, they enter The Quarry. No tell-tale names this time to tell us where this quarry is. 😦
With that they arrive back at the prison and the 'good' guy takes out the 'bad' guy.

The main character survives a fiery explosion that destroys the prison entrance. Then, when he recovers, he claims to not be 'Frankenstein'. Cut to a scene out on the waterfront where the team is free and enjoying life. (including one guy that died earlier in the movie)

The movie concludes with a montage of 'missing' scenes that explain much of the movie.

Well, now that you've read this, you don't need to watch the movie! :p
But honestly, would you have wanted to watch this mess anyway? πŸ™„