Cute and cult. A film with few pretensions. Death Race 2000 is clearly geared at providing something short, sweet and explosive, regardless of the somewhat bland morality injection thrown in at the end. It is easy enough to ignore though, and just focus on a wacky race that no doubt inspired games like Carmageddon decades later.
Every year a killer race is held. Several teams show up in crafty race cars and try to reach the finish first. On the way there they must rack up points by killing civilians, with different genders and age brackets being assigned a different amount of points. Yes, there is some strategy to it. The media loves to cover the race, but the public is starting to rebel.
The performances aren't all that great (Stallone is terrible even), and the effects and car designs are a little crummy, but the satire works and the film has a bright and happy vibe that contrasts perfectly well with the actual themes. I wouldn't call it great cinema, but there's still some appeal left, which is something for a 40-year-old film.