Remember when you were a kid, and something came on the tube that looked an awful lot like it was going to feature women behind bars? It looked like it was going to be filled with every sequence of catfight after catfight, ladies going at it (for their dear lives!)? They’d be scratching, pulling hair, kicking, punching away at one another inside of ninety minutes, and you knew – without a doubt – that only the strong would survive? Remember how – when the trailer ended – mom and dad made you turn the channel or (worse!) simply turn the TV off because they didn’t want you watching that “garbage”? Oh, come on, you pleaded with them, just let me watch the first fight, and then you’ll turn it off, but they still refused, telling you that there were much better things you could do with your time under their roof, in that city, on this Earth?
RAZE is the film you want to watch to make up for missing the other.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the box art: “After she is drugged and abducted, Jamie awakens to find herself in a concrete bunker where she meets fellow abductee Sabrina. Before long the two women discover that they are in a modern-day coliseum, where they and 48 other women have been selected to fight to the death in order to save both themselves and their loved ones. Co-starring genre favorites Doug Jones and Sherilyn Fenn, director Josh C. Waller’s RAZE is a no-holds-barred assault on the senses featuring some of the most brutal combat action ever put on film. In this contest, may the best woman win.”
Confession time: I’d seen a preview for RAZE either late last year or earlier this year. I honestly don’t remember which. Meh, the time isn’t important. Anyway, I’d long ago tired out on the whole idea of taking previews seriously. I’d been burned by so many great theatrical trailers down through the years, that – probably ten years back – I said “no more,” and I stopped getting excited about the promised features. After all, they never live up to the hype.
This trailer was a bit different. It struck a chord. It rang a bell. It promised Zoe Bell in a leading role, and, for those of you who wouldn’t know her face, you’ve probably seen her work. She’s a wonderfully talented stunt woman from New Zealand. During XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS? When Xena was doing something particular bad-ass? That wasn’t really Lucy Lawless you watched. Odds are, it was Zoe Bell. If you don’t think she’s the cat’s meow like I do, then I encourage you to check out her ‘stunts’ profile on IMDB.com. Bell’s the real deal – the kind of girl every fanboy wants to take home to meet mom ‘cause he knows she might not be good enough for him but she’ll definitely go down fighting for him.
So I saw that trailer, and – with guarded optimism – I said, “Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t overthink it. Don’t hold your breath.” Like I told you, I’d learned my lesson. I’d been let down before. I didn’t want to be let down again. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I heard a little bird whisper, “Zoe won’t disappoint you. You’ll see.”
Well, I just watched RAZE … and it’s perfect.
In fact, I’m so smitten with it I hope there’s a sequel. And another. And another. I hope every film in the history of films yet to be written can take a lesson from its benign simplicity: when it comes to action, don’t spare the girl. Why? Well, here’s a few good reasons. Sarah Connor. Ripley. Nikita. Michonne. Eva Green as Artemisia in 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE. Angelina Jolie in SALT. Uma Thurman in KILL BILL. Milla Jovovich in any of the RESIDENT EVIL picks. And Michelle Yeoh in just about anything she’s done.
The more of them, the happier we fanboys are.
Plus, it’ll only get Zoe Bell more work.
RAZE (2013) is produced by Cinipix, Cosmic Toast Studios, and Quincy Pictures. DVD distribution is being handled by MPI Media Group under the IFC Midnight label. As for the technical specifications, this is one smartly made flick, ponying up some deliciously delirious sights and sounds to anyone who’s willing to sit for it. Lastly, if it’s special features you want, then – like with the film – you’re in for the time of your life: there’s a commentary, cast and crew interviews, deleted scenes, extended fight sequences, a gag reel, multiple theatrical trailers, and no doubt a kitchen sink somewhere I missed: a sprawling assortment, which shows that everyone involved knew that fans would most definitely want to know more! Bravo!
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. I’m not a fool. I know that RAZE is not the kind of film that’ll please everyone. Nor will my ringing endorsement please others. However, as a lifelong fan of action films and as a budding aficionado of flicks dabbling in exploitation, I must unabashedly admit to loving every minute of it from start-to-finish. It’s a no holds barred bloody knuckle brawl that should be celebrated by those who’ll love it most, which means telling most high-brow critics to go stuff themselves because they couldn’t possibly understand why it’s just so darn good.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MPI Media Group provided me a DVD copy of RAZE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape or form influenced my opinion of it.