Raze (2013)

Zoë Bell stars in Raze as one mad Mama.

Zoë Bell stars in Raze as one mad Mama.

Here is my recipe for an amazing entertainment idea (tv, movies, whatever):  Take one part kick-ass idea, add at least 1 person (actor, writer, stuntperson, etc) from televisions’s excellent Xena series, mix well… and VOILA, you’ve got yourself a hit.  Don’t believe me? See: LotR, rebooted Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Almost Human, Kill Bill, Psyche, Death Proof, and I could go on, but I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, if I see someone from the Xena series pop up somewhere – I’m gonna watch whatever they do.

No, Alien Apocalypse does not count against this recipe. Maybe it should, but shuddup.

Enter 2013’s Raze.  The story here – as you can see from the trailer – is a simple one:  50 women are abducted and forced to fight one another, until there is only one left standing.  If they choose not to fight, a loved one of theirs will be murdered (as they watch on video from their holding cells), and then they’ll be killed anyway.  The only way to survive is to fight.

Women forced to fight do not fuck around.

Women forced to fight do not fuck around.

 stars as Sabrina, who’s begrudgingly fighting to keep her daughter alive.  We meet Sabrina as she beats the holy hell out of Jamie, the first unfortunate woman we meet (played by , who also executive produced the movie).  This interaction – albeit surprisingly brief – sets up the story nicely:  Sabrina is the baddest of all of the asses and likely the wisest too, but she still has her soul intact.  She shares a prison-like cell block with several others (including Death Proof alum  and ) and as their numbers dwindle, they begin to form a bit of a family – which of course leads to some heavy drama for each of the characters.

Here, the 'class clown' is more of an Ass Clown.

Here, the ‘class clown’ is more of an Ass Clown.

To answer your obvious question – yes, you’ve seen most of this before.  Most of the characters are stock – the whimpering simpleton (another Xena alum –  as Nancy), the childlike innocent ( as Cody), and the dangerous nutso ( as Phoebe, who may as well have been playing Xena’s Callisto).  Yet each have their own story arcs which – along with the others – tie nicely together in a more-believable scenario than most other ‘battle royale’ type movies care to create.  The other thing that’s different here is the way in which these women fight.

Would have loved more of Fenn and Jones.

Would have loved more of Fenn and Jones.

If you’ve ever seen two adult women fight physically – it’s an intense thing.  It becomes personal and visceral and is something we’re simply not used to seeing in our macho entertainment world.  There’s zero nudity here.  The women are not treated as sexual objects, there is not one strategic clothes tear or ‘accidental’ de-frocking.  Not one attempt to entice male guards with sex is witnessed (nor any attempted sexual assaults on any of the captured women).  The horror here is visceral and simple – watching physically strong, capable, and (mostly) caring women destroy one another in the hopes that they may be able to save their loved ones.

Make no mistake, this is one brutal and bloody good time – but not overly so.  Faces are pulverized, body parts are smashed and broken, and the walls are painted with blood, but never does it feel overly exploitative in its brutality.  Several performances are standout – but both Bell and Thoms broke my heart at least twice.  If I have a minor gripe – I would liked to have seen more of  and  as the married heads of this unique cult.  We only get glimpses of their life outside of the fighting arena – and those glimpses are fascinating.

This is going to end badly for someone...

This is going to end badly for someone…

Bottom line?  Raze puts a fresh & feminist spin on the old hardcore fighting movie, and it’s a helluva good time.  Probably (Xena) because it contains so much badassery (Xena) in its DNA (did I mention the Xena thing?  Because Xena).  Check it out if you’re lucky enough to have it playing in a theater near you.  Otherwise it can be found on many cable provider’s On-Demand selections (check the ‘early releases’ section).  Last, but not least, you can find it on Amazon Instant now (eventually it will be on Redbox and Netflix, but not just yet).


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About De7en

Don't let the day job fool you, this computer consultant knows the Ooky Spooky. De7en was weaned by Jaws, suffered through puberty with Carrie, and tore into adulthood hand-in-glove with Freddy. From foreign frights and classic cuts to gallons of gore and more extreme fare, De7en is always ready to dig into something fresh.