Judge Paul Corupe actually writes out critiques of each episode on this set. He must be a fan.
Our reviews of Speed Racer (published September 16th, 2008), Speed Racer: Volume 5 (published November 15th, 2006), Speed Racer (Blu-Ray) (published September 24th, 2008), Speed Racer: Limited Collector's Edition, Volume Two (published July 29th, 2004), Speed Racer: Limited Edition (published October 28th, 2003), and Speed Racer: The Complete Classic Collection (published October 17th, 2008) are also available.
He's gonna be racing after someone…
It's amazing that 30 years later, Speed Racer remains one of the most fondly remembered cartoons of all time. This innovative, early Japanamation hit, chronicling the adventures of a young teenage boy and his suped-up supercar, seems to have gotten stuck in neutral in the memories of all who have seen it, thanks to its outlandish stories, off-kilter dubbing, and fiery, crash-filled races. Speed Racer: Volume Four is the latest release in Lionsgate's ongoing collection of the show, another solid release that breaks away from the pack in an effort to capture the checkered flag. Go Speed Racer, go!.
In the cult classic series, world class driver Speed Racer is the proud driver of the Mach Five, a technologically advanced automobile built by his genius mechanic father, Pops Racer. Speed and his girlfriend (and navigator) Trixie travel to exotic locales with his marvelous racing machine where he routinely matches skills with competitors like Snake Oiler, Zoomer Slick and the not-so-mysterious Racer X. When not winning the latest Grand Prix, however, Speed spends his downtime thwarting the nefarious schemes of incredible villains and mobsters intent on exploiting the International Racing Circuit for their own evil gain. Helping Speed both on and off the track are his friend and mechanic Sparky, as well as his little brother Spritle, and Spritle's pet monkey Chim Chim, who often stow way in the Mach Five's trunk to join in the wacky fun.
Picking up where Speed Racer: Volume Three left off, Speed Racer: Volume Four features eight episodes of the motor-revvin' series:
• "The Terrifying Gambler"
• "The Secret Invaders (Part 1)"
• "The Secret Invaders (Part 2)"
• "Man Behind the Mask"
• "The Car Destroyer"
• "The Desperate Racer"
• "The Dangerous Witness"
• "Race the Laser Tank"
Now, I'll be the first to admit that Speed Racer isn't a very well-made show. The constantly recycled animation, dangerously low frame rate, and almost nonsensical dubbed dialogue certainly indicate that the show was lazily crafted, and yet, as fans will testify, the technical shortcomings are really the charm of the series, especially when combined with the bizarre plot lines. And this volume has lots to offer fans of the strange, with grotesque art thieves, attacking swarms of model airplanes, and flying sword attacks. Not being a fan of cartoons with complicated story arcs, I really liked the fact that this set contains only one two-part episode-the rest are stand-alone shows that you can pop in any time, anywhere, for a quick 22-minute hit of Speed's mildly psychedelic antics.
The first thing you're going to notice about Speed Racer Vol. 4 is that there are only eight episodes here rather than the 11 or 12 found on earlier volumes—a move that has allowed Lionsgate to stretch the series to one more volume (and wheedle another 20 bucks out of fans). The second thing you're going to notice is the cool extra: a die-cast Mach Five that you can drive around your desk while singing the Speed Racer theme song while your co-workers look at you like you've lost your mind. I'm perfectly aware that this gimmicky giveaway toy is meant to distract my attention from the fact that there aren't any substantial supplements on the disc, but apparently, it worked. Other than that, you can expect Lionsgate's usual passable presentation-tinny mono sound and source-artifact littered frames. It's pretty much on par with other '60s animation classics, so I won't give Speed a hard time on the technical details.
This is likely a release that's only going to appeal to fans that grew up watching Speed's odd adventures, but I wouldn't have it any other way. With only one more DVD left until the entire series has hit the market, you bet your life Speed Racer's gonna see it through!
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Scales of Justice
• Die Cast Mach Five
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