Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Man… 'Raze' was a wildly unpleasant experience.  Perfectly executed, crisply presented, and I'm thinking that the vision that director and co-writer Josh C. Waller envisioned for his film came out very close to the way he saw it, but this was not a fun way, at least for me, to pass 90 minutes of time.

The pretty girl, Jamie (Rachel Nichols), is on one of those E-Harmony or dates.  The date seems to have gone great, and in fact if Jamie would've been just a little more accommodating, the date might've ended with my man getting breakfast in the morning, but Jamie's not that kind of girl.  Jamie takes a bath, but the next thing you know she's tazed into unconsciousness and wakes up in some kind of dank, dark lit cell wearing sweat pants and a really tight tank top.  If you like seeing super fit young women in sweat pants and really tight tank tops… here you go.  Jamie wanders the halls of this facility and runs into Sabrina (Zoe Bell) who is also in sweats and a tank.  Jamie is confused and disoriented.  Sabrina seems a little more lucid.  The two women enter a room, the door slams behind them and Sabrina commences to whooping Jamie's ass.  Jamie ain't no slouch in the fight game though, and turns the tables on her.  She doesn't know why this is happening, but clearly if she doesn't fight back, she's gonna die.  At the end of the day, only one of these women will be allowed to walk out of this arena.  Zoe Bell is the main character of this piece so we will let it go at that.

What's going on?  Well, that's a good question.  Apparently a large number of very fit young women, all of whom with some kind of fighting / athletic prowess, were snatched off the street by Joseph the loon (Doug Jones) and his batty wife Elizabeth (Sherilyn Fenn).   Subsequently, these women are made to fight on closed circuit television for a bunch of strange rich people who really
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like to see hot chicks in tight tank tops kill each other, tournament style.  I think the winner gets set free or something.  Seems unlikely though.  You would think some of these women would just choose not to fight, but should these ladies want to act up they will have to deal with Kurtz (Bruce Thomas) the brutal hardass and his Troops of Doom who won't think twice about bashing someone with a butt of a rifle, or smashing a head against a brick wall when needed.  And if they still want to act up, Joseph and his expansive organization have gone to great lengths to make sure these women have little choice in the matter.

At the center of this brutality is always Sabrina.  Sabrina had made alliances with some of the women, despite the fact she might be called upon to beat them to death at any given moment, and she's made a few enemies while in holding, particularly psycho Phoebe (Rebecca Marshall) who really likes this setup and wants nothing more than to meet Sabrina in the circle.  Oh Phoebe… you silly girl, don't ask for that. 

What happens next?  The hero triumphs and the bad guys get theirs?  I don't know.

So 'Raze' ends and I'm sitting in silence pondering the point of the film.  Anyone whose read just a little bit of the typo ridden nonsense I've written over the years knows I'm a fan exploitation cinema, and one of the poster arts for 'Raze' definitely gives it that 70's grindhouse feel, but I don't think this is that kind of movie.   If at some point, for no reason in particular, all of our stars decided to take a group shower… maybe.  If at some point our stars broke out of their confinements and started running through the jungle for freedom… maybe.  This was just brutality for the sake of brutality, at least from where I was sitting.  This is one of the more violent films I've recently seen.  If you watch someone mow down people with a machine gun, that's violent but not as violent as someone stabbing a bunch of people with a knife or a machete, but even that's not as violent as beating someone to death with your bare hands.  There was an awful lot of that kind of brutal, in your face, relentless violence in this movie… but to what end?  I know it's probably silly and foolish of me to look for some kind of justification or reasoning for this kind of movie, but that's what I'm looking for.  I want to enjoy this movie because Zoe Bell is excellent in it, the film looks and sounds great, Traci Thoms and Rosario Dawson fight each other in tight tank tops in this movie, and Rachel Nichols exists in this movie… but despite these wonderful elements, I can't find any justification for this movie to exist.  It is dark, depressing and nihilistic. 

As it so happens there is a large section of people on the planet who can appreciate this particular type of film, and believe me when I tell you that 'Raze' is well produced, well-acted, and expertly executed.  I'm just not one of these people, is all.  Sexy hot chicks fighting each other to the death… oddly enough I'm totally cool with that… as long as there is some semblance of hope at the end of the tunnel.  This was hopeless violence.  This I could not get with.
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