Raze (2013)

Not sure why I am drawn to these movies, but here we have another movie where we enter at the same time as the protagonist with no real idea what is going on or why. She's trapped in a room where she has no interaction with anyone until something bad happens, and she has to instinctively react. This is an exploitation film - it really feels like it belongs in a different era, but it was released in 2013.

The movie has elements of the very enjoyable Cube, but it is inherently less philosophical. Instead, it pulls from a log line of action-oriented movies where people are gathered from different places and forced to fight for the amusement of a select group. The basic story is very, very simple, and it isn't enough to keep the movie going in the right direction. So, the movie needs something else to drive it forward. This movie banks on character development – well, development of a single character, Zoe Bell as Sabrina. This forced fight club for women vaguely tries to diversify the women based on fighting styles or backgrounds, but I noticed that there all of basically the same body type.

Each woman has not only been ripped from her normal life stuck in this prison, but they all have loved ones who are being threatened. Each match is a fight to the death, and if you die your family dies too. This gives all the women the motivation that they need to beat the crap out of each other. The fairly stupidly designed ring that they fight in is not suited for this kind of voyeuristic fighting. Camera placement is abysmal, and there doesn't seem to be any apparatus for controlling the fighters in the event that it becomes necessary by the jailers.

Some of the women certainly take their roles a little over the top, but that's the nature of this kind of film. You need to have fairly stylized characters in order to set them apart from each other. It's like the original Street Fighter videogame where they had Ryu and Ken in the same game. Ken was essentially just a blonde version of Ryu. You don't want to have that kind of confusion in a movie, so you need to increase the volume of each characters inherit traits. So, that means you wind up with some ludicrously bloodthirsty woman threatening people randomly for no good reason except to maybe get in their heads. You then have the sheepish girl, the depressed girl, and our hero who is the resolute girl.

Yes, that's Rosario Dawson getting beat up.
Just a cameo.
What this movie lacks for storyline, it really tries to make up for in fight scenes. Perhaps if they had had more accomplished fighters to start with, it would've been a little easier for them to film. The problem is, this movie has to be edited very heavily to make sure that the fight scene flows well. This is no Jackie Chan uninterrupted stream of bad guys and moves choreographed to a tee. That said, the action's not bad.

Possibly one of the most impressive things about this movie is that there is no nudity. This was a conscious decision by the director, Josh C. Waller, because he didn't want this to become a parody of itself. He essentially just wanted to have the same movie that you would normally see with male fighters, but with female fighters instead. Problem is, that's what we got. We got the same movie that we've already seen before. Yes, adding women is an interesting twist, but I'm not sure that it justifies a whole new movie.

Acting was good
Direction was good
Action was good
Story was very weak
Dialogue was very weak

Bottom Line: With a better writer, this could have been so much more.



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