STUDIO: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
MSRP: $22.98
RUNNING TIME: 184 Minutes
Die-cast Mach 5 car

The Pitch

“Diabolical evildoers threaten the world with evil schemes. The only one who can stop them is the world’s dimmest racer!”

The Characters

Speed Racer, Trixie, Racer X, Spirtle, Chim-Chim and Pops

The Nutshell

Speed Racer is a man who lives up to his namesake. He takes first place in almost every race he enters and is practically unbeatable in his Mach-5 car. He is assisted in his endeavors by his girlfriend Trixie, his little brother Spirtle, a pet monkey named Chim-Chim and his parents. He also has an older brother who vanished some time ago. Where could he be? Who knows? All we can be sure of is that his brother is definitely not the mysterious Racer X who wears the exact same M that appears on the hood of the Mach 5 and Speed Racer’s helmet. That would be preposterous.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Speed Racer has been involved in a horrific multi-car pile-up! Speed Racer’s testicles are a mile apart and still rolling around the course! Oh, the humanity!"

The life of Speed Racer is about more than winning races though. Perhaps because winning has become such an effortless affair for Speed Racer, he moonlights as a crime fighter. In between races he regularly pursues and fights criminals and ne’er-do-wells. Villains tackled in this volume include a crazy gambler who wants to destroy the world’s oil supply, a gang of crooks searching for hidden jewels and a guild of assassins. All of them are thwarted by Speed Racer in as few animation frames as possible.

The Lowdown

Eight episodes are included in Speed Racer – Volume 4. Highlights include the two-part “The Secret Invaders” arc and two of the three races that Speed Racer actually lost. The animation is laughably bad compared to modern anime and even contemporary cartoons during Speed Racer’s time, but that just adds to the charm of the show.

In order to dub the cartoon with as little retooling as possible, all the voice actors have to operate at a frantic pace and spit out the dialogue as quickly as possible. This combination of jerky animation and warp speed dialogue transform Speed Racer into a consistently funny and fast paced cartoon. It’s almost impossible not to laugh each time Speed Racer lets loose an astonished “OH” with a gaping mouth and vacant stare as a villain attacks him.

I’ve got the gun. Now all I’ve got to do is quietly diffuse the situation and…GASP! Playing cards!

Besides the odd appeal presented by the dubbing, Speed Racer also endeared itself to children with its content. As opposed to the rather tame cartoons of the time,
Speed Racer features plenty of action, guns, explosions and deaths. Rival racers regularly crash through guard rails and fall off of cliffs before dying in a gigantic explosion. Villains brandish weapons at every turn and assassinate those who get in their way with poison darts and sniper rifles. The plots in Speed Racer are certainly more interesting than the standard bank heist and kidnapping plots of similar action cartoons.

Speed Racer is a show that’s immensely entertaining both as children’s entertainment and as an unintentionally funny cult classic. Both children and adults will find things to enjoy about the show. Despite coming out in the 1960s and being cheaply animated, Street Racer is a timeless show that manages to be more entertaining than newer and flashier cartoons that have come in its wake.

The Package

Speed Racer Volume 4 is packaged in an oversized paper box. This box holds the die-cast Mach 5 replica as well as a standard DVD case. The cheap box can be discarded once the replica and the case are removed. The die-cast car is the only feature included with the DVD. The replica is well made and even zooms forward if you wind it backwards a few times. It’s a neat extra for fans of the show and an example of thinking outside of the box in terms of extras.

The Hawaii P.D. Pineapple Theft Task Force plays for keeps.

All the quality extras were used up in the first Speed Racer volume and the subsequent releases have all relied on gimmick packaging to sell. The lack of extras on Volume 4 isn’t helped by the fact that this volume has fewer episodes on it than any of the others. It seems that Lions Gate wants to drag out the release of this show as long as possible. In addition, the fact that Lions Gate included trailers for Pinocchio 3000 and a cgi
Inspector Gadget movie indicate that they want to punish Speed Racer fans as much as possible.

7.5 out of 10