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Let’s Celebrate The Most Iconic Game And Film Adaptations About Cars & Racing

Sony Pictures’ Gran Turismo movie is releasing in Malaysian cinemas on 17 August 2023. While it’s an adaptation of the famous PlayStation and Digital Polyphony IP of the same name, the movie is based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough, telling the tale of a teenage Gran Turismo player whose gaming skills won a series of Nissan competitions to become an actual professional racecar driver. It’s an alright flick; go read our review on it here.

That being said, Gran Turismo is just the latest of many racing or car-focused movies throughout the history of pop culture. Cars have been the subject of many movies, even ones that don’t necessarily focus on racing themes or elements. For this feature in particular, we will bring up

Need For Speed (Game To Movie)

Based on the hit EA series back in the 2000s onward, this game is about fast cars, getting chased by cops for breaking the speed limit and tweaking out your cars so you can vroom vroom as fast as you can. It’s quite a fun series if you stick to the ones involving police chases and fast cars; the simulation-wannabe spin-offs we can do without (*coughSHIFTcough)

The Need For Speed movie stars Aaron Paul and is trying to be a Fast and Furious movie, but really flops on its face for being a dull and predictable factory-churned-action film. Everyone here was just doing it for a paycheck and there’s not much of this movie that wows and stand out for many viewers. At the very least, the director put the Ford Shelby Mustang and Koenigsegg Agera R cars (alongside other fast fancy vehicles) to good use.

Meanwhile, the games are doing OK; the last entry back in 2022, Need For Speed Unbound, mixed Instagram/Tik Tok aesthetics with street racing. It ain’t half-bad; we just wished EA gave it the marketing push it deserved.


Speed Racer (Anime To Live-Action Movie)

Based on the hit 70s anime series, this show features a guy named Speed Racer who fights crime while racing in crazy series in made-up locations all over the world. It clearly hasn’t held up over time, but it’s still a riot to watch because of how rooted it is in its timeline.

The Wachowski-directed film in 2008 is full of anime energy and is as faithful an adaptation as you can get. Naturally, it failed at the box office because the movie-going crowd at the time wasn’t really into any form of anime, much less live adaptations of it. Thankfully the film had a cult following and is beloved by movie fans and anime aficionados because of its direction, its breakneck speed, its quirky cast, and over-the-top nature. Long before Alita: Battle Angel proved that Hollywood adaptations of anime shows can be great, Speed Racer was ahead of its time.


Mad Max: Fury Road (Movie To Game)

We’re going in reverse here. The George Miller-directed film is a long-ass car chase scene that enthrals and excites due to its direction, its visuals, and its simple-but-captivating plot with our titular hero Mad Max in the middle. Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially a giant-ass chase sequence, but one told with style, panache, and depth.

The game based on the film is a pretty fun open-world action-adventure title with a ton of driving and destruction; it sadly wasn’t in the critic’s darling eye as it was in a year dominated by bigger titles like The Witcher 3. Still, the Mad Max game eventually found its fan and is still played a lot to this day; at least the PC version. It’s going for RM38 right now and it’s a steal for what you’re getting. 


Initial D (Manga/Anime To Arcade Game)

Here’s one more entry in reverse gear: the manga/anime series Initial D gets a plethora of video game adaptations, thanks to renowned arcade machine makers Sega.


When you think early 2000s, anime, and racing, you think Initial D and nothing else. The Japanese manga about street racing from Suichi Shigeno has an anime adaptation, or a boatload of them, which introduces people to the wonderful world of eurobeat long before Eurovision. The show and movie adaptations are generally a love letter to the Toyota AE86 (Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX from the late 80s).

The games themselves are no slouches in the racing department: they’re pure arcade racing fun if you’re into driving on narrow cliffside roads and having eurobeats blasting into your ear for the duration of the course. It’s hard to believe that it got its start in 1998 for Game Boy, before Sega stepped in and gave it the arcade racing magic treatment it deserves.

Twisted Metal (Game To TV Show)

The most recent entry in the “car game to film/TV” adaptation list has to be Sony’s own car combat racing title, Twisted Metal.

The PS1 Twisted Metal and Twisted Metal 2 were breakthrough multiplayer action games where you pick your vehicle of choice, go nuts and kill everyone on screen, and even play through a story mode involving a shady guy who can make your dreams come true. But most of us during the late 90s just played it for the multiplayer hardcore version of Mario Kart battle mode on split-screen; it was the coolest thing to do at the time.

The TV show that came out this year on NBC Peacock doesn’t really delve into that, though it touches on cars, vehicle destruction, and a maniacal clown named Sweet Tooth who drives a souped-up ice cream truck. And even that spiel doesn’t last beyond the first few episodes based on our review. 

Got any more adaptations to bring up? Are there any that are stuck in your mind? Let us know on our social media and YouTube page. Meanwhile, you should go check out our ode to racing games on our recent Main Game episode.

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  1. techylist

    October 20, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    I love car and racing adaptations! They’re always so exciting to watch!

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