January 22, 2014

THC's Fundance Film Festival 2014- Raze (2014)

Raze (definition): To level to the ground; demolish. To scrape or shave off. To erase.

There were parts of Raze that we really liked. For  instance, it was great to see Zoe Bell feature in front of the camera as an actress for a change; she's one hell of a Stuntwoman, but she's also got a very likable presence beyond all of the falls and jumps.

We also thought that the fight scenes were pretty great to watch, even if they were very, very nasty and graphic. I mean, damn, there were a few times where we had to yell "Alright, enough already! She's dead enough!" at the screen.

We also liked the idea of a group of women being forced to fight and win to keep their loved ones alive. Not because we're creeps (eh), but because that premise could make for one hell of a tension-filled movie if done right...

In the case of Raze, that premise makes for one hell of a one-note movie that never truly realizes its own potential. Fun, though. It was definitely fun.

After a hard night of partying, Rachel Nichols wakes up in a basement, wondering just where the hell she is. Where is she? In a basement. We told you that already. This basement, however, is no ordinary basement... it's the Fight Club for Girls' basement! Basement. (Just wanted to say that word one last time.)

She tries to find her way out, and instead finds Sabrina, who lures her into a room, and starts punching her. As she's pummeling the hell out of her, Sabrina says she's sorry, so that pretty much makes everything alright.

Gal pals.
You see, the Fight Club for Girls basement is filled with abducted women, all tough and physically capable to different degrees, who are forced to fight each other to the death, one bout at a time. If they don't fight, they die, and so do their loved ones. If they do fight and lose, they die, and so do their loved ones. Basically, each girl's mission is to fight and win.

There can be only one.
Who is doing this to them? Why, a Cult of course. In all fairness, it could just be a group of wealthy people who love to sit around and watch girls beat each other to death, but "Cult" feels more accurate to us. Either way, Sabrina has to find a way to survive and save her daughter's life, and that of course means beating a bunch of bitches to death.

Explicit and excessive girl on girl fighting ensues.

This is not the hot kind of girl on girl.
Raze is most definitely an exploitation flick of the Women in Prison variety. There may be no soapy shower scenes, or any obligatory lesbian sex scenes (which we would have fully supported, by the way), but it definitely has every other aspect of the typical WIP flick; sadistic "Wardens," evil guards, female oppression... hell, it even has one of those "watch out for me, I'm crazy and lethal!" types of inmates in it, to act as the foil.

The parts of Raze that worked for us, worked really well. It was action-packed, bloody, effective, and pretty engaging, for the most part. If you take it at face value as 90 minutes of escapist entertainment, it's really good.

Zoe Bell is awesome in this one, and we're glad to see her be able to stretch her creative legs a bit with a leading role. She really comes off as likable, and she's a bad-ass, so what's not to love about her? Ditto Tracie Thorns, although she's probably nowhere near the bad-ass that Zoe Bell is. Still, we really dig her too. Rosario Dawson and Rachel Nichols were solid here too, though they were only in about 5 minutes of the movie each. Even with the shallow script, most of the other girls in Raze were good too.

Bet she's thinking about kittens right now. Or hugs.
Raze is a decent little fight flick, but the problem is that it doesn't really go anywhere. If you're watching it only to see a bunch of hot women in tank tops viciously beat each other to death, then you'll be in Heaven. If you're expecting all of the carnage to lead somewhere, as in a resolution of any kind (good or bad), then you'll be sorely disappointed.

The real issue with Raze, is the script; while the fight scenes are all pretty vivid and entertaining, the story that surrounds them is equally as hollow and almost silly. The "Game Masters" and Guards all came off as cheesy caricatures, and none of them seemed particularly menacing at all. The dialogue was weak for the most part, and in some places, was just plain bad. Everything just felt way too over-dramatic, and in the end, it kind of lessened the good parts of the movie.

Which brings me to the acting. Being that the script was weak, you can't really expect a bunch of  B-movie actresses (no insult intended there) to help things all that much. They tried, and some of them way too hard. Worst of all was the girl who played Phoebe; it felt as if she were trying to channel Heath Ledger's Joker or something, and her character came off as goofy rather that intimidating. I blame the script for that, not the actress, but still.

Really? I mean, really?
What an utter ridiculous mess the ending of this movie was.


So as predicted, Zoe Bell survives until the end, although via trickery; she pretends to be dead while the girl who "wins" is taken upstairs to be "reborn" or some shit. Anyhow, she kills some guards, makes it upstairs to where the "Game Masters" are, and instead of killing them (and then setting her friend free), she hits them once or twice, and then turns her back on them... which leads to the other girl getting killed, and her getting cut and almost killed herself.


Shit gets even worse though when she kills two guards with their own guns, and then makes her way cautiously through the "audience" that was watching the fights, and finally makes it outside to her well-earned freedom... where she throws the guns away, and begins to run across a mile-long bridge, and is promptly shot dead by a guard that she didn't see, because she's a moron.

All of that fighting and survival that she just did, all of her determination to survive, all of the guile and smarts that she showed while surviving, meant absolutely nothing, because she forgets every bit of it when the sun hits her face?

Wait. What?

Wasn't the message of this movie supposed to be that strong women can beat the system if they're determined enough, or some shit like that? That's my humble guess, but apparently my guesswork is for shit, because in the end, the real message of Raze seems to be "women can win for a while, but then they end up losing anyhow, because they're stupid."

Why didn't she shoot everyone? Why did she turn her back on them, throw away her guns, and run off like she had entered some sort of safety zone or something? And why did we, the audience, get a flashback oh the guy who shot her, when she, the character, couldn't see him at all?

You can suck it, stupid ending!

Those guns would never leave my hands.
There are all kinds of vicious, brutal, and bloody fights to be seen in Raze. The movie exists only to show women beating each other to death, so of course it's going to be gory. There's also some bladed weapon and gun violence thrown in there too for good measure.

Also, a particularly bad nosebleed.
There's no nudity in this movie, although lots of its starlets do look great in their tight-fitting, sweaty, bloody tank tops. Especially Rosario Dawson, because that woman was gifted by the Gods with the body of an Angel!

Don't mess with Zoe Bell. Also, Rachel Nichols only does cameos now... I guess that's because she's on a hot TV Show in Canada, so, she's real busy.

The Ben Wa balls of death.
If the plot had been better, and had the characters been more well-rounded, Raze could have been an awesome exploitation flick. As it stands though, Raze is an exciting movie that boasts some great fight scenes, but not much in the story department. It's definitely worth a watch, but just keep in mind that what you see in the trailer is basically what you get in the movie. For most people, that will probably be good enough.

Raze is available now on VOD


Raze was filled to capacity with attractive women who were all scantily clad. Bravo, Raze.


  1. "Rachel Nichols only does cameos now... I guess that's because she's on a hot TV Show in Canada, so, she's real busy."

    FYI... Raze was filmed in 2012 before she was in said TV show

  2. Raze was actually shot in 2011.

    Continnum aired in May of 2012, and the first ep. didn't air until the entire season was already shot. The most likely means that Continuum was shot during early 2012, and with rehearsals and such, that means Rachel was most likely involved with the show since late 2011.

    The comment was made as a jibe to the fact that she was front and center in the movies advertising for Raze (and rightly so), but had a very small and quick presence in the film.