Film Reviews


By • Jan 11th, 2014 •

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Let’s get ready for the bare-knuckled fist-pounding face-busting fight card from the theater in the circle for a special select closed-circuit television audience. I can keep hurling adjectives faster than tomahawk strikes in reference to RAZE, the thrill a minute ultimate fight film starring the radiant-stuntwoman-extraordinaire-turned-leading-lady, Zoe Bell.

As a journalistic carnival barker employing all out hyperbolic hype, I implore thee to get your ticket and step right up to see for yourself the break-a-bone, skull-smashing, loud as a steel-belted scream, all female combatant tournament sans the WWE circus atmosphere and the UFC’s signature doldrums: the choke hold and tap out.

Awakened to a place devoid of time and location, Jamie soon encounters another woman. Solace and compassion is what one may find in a fellow abductee. Not here. At first, the security monitors hint towards a lone voyeur, most likely male. Soon enough Jamie realizes her abysmal reality. Her captor is not the predator, nor does death come in the form of a bullet or knife; but the grizzly severity of physical punishment at the hands of the only other woman in this labyrinth – Sabrina.

Detained in cells by military-like guards, these kept women are captive with no alternative other than fight to survive. To draw from Poe, the woeful tale of any of the fifty women may begin as, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary…” This isn’t REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS or MEAN GIRLS who need to take on the bad karate kids of the Cobra Kai dojo. Kidnapped from their abode in society they have become unlawful wards to custodians of a secret society.

Fraught with fear, the power of love compels them to begrudgingly fight one another. (A grudge match between alpha females Sabrina and her fiercest competitor exists.) And why is love a motivator? Because the fighters’ loved ones are unknowingly being monitored and a failed fight means their imminent deaths.

An introduction to the “wardens” of this bunker that features these carnal bouts reveal the proud heritage and history behind this nightmarish barrage of woman on woman violence. Surprisingly, both a male and female head the organization that is more secret than the Illuminati. Sherilyn Fenn is Elizabeth. In a fantastic display of character, this seemingly fastidious “queen” offers a sympathetic ear to quell the prefight jitters of an uncooperative fighter. With an ataractic consoling she quickly adjourns her demure demeanor as a muzzled flash mutes the discord.

All of the women are underdogs. Is it just brawn that prevents demise? Faced with death as both loss and victory, how does the average Jane “man up” and beat another to death? Does quickly coming to grips with reality or by manifesting into a brazen gladiator from sheer will or absolute loss of sanity guarantee victory? Each woman faces physical and psychological dilemmas as they confront and submit to demons, worries, and inhibitions in varying degrees. The captives are from all walks of life with equally different levels of physical and mental strengths. Does everyone have a game plan? Sabrina does!

There is no anthem for these female prisoners ready to spar with death. Only a low resonance that permeates the direness at hand. Each fight is different. In relation to contact sports, the fighters’ mentality and heart is often mentioned. The Robert Beaucage script incorporates these elements into the screenplay. The stunt coordinator, James Young, deserves a Taurus Award.

This film doesn’t subject women to sexual objectification. It’s not Jack Hill’s WOMEN IN CAGES. It empowers woman as a fighter, as a nurturing spirit, as a resilient being. RAZE isn’t overtly ostentatious. There aren’t any shower scenes and no females are prepping for battle by placing gear on nude bodies.

Josh Waller’s RAZE, with Zoe Bell leading the cast, ranks among the top fight films. Had I been allowed to sit through it again, I would have because another viewing of Sabrina vs. Everybody kicks ass.

Want more Zoe Bell? Read our interview next week right here at Films In Review!

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