15th Jun2014

‘Raze’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Zoe Bell, Rachel Nichols, Doug Jones, Sherilyn Fenn, Adrienne Wilkinson, Tracie Thoms, Rebecca Marshall, Bailey Anne Borders, Rosario Dawson | Written by Robert Beaucage | Directed by Josh C. Waller

Raze-DVD

Produced by its star, stuntwoman turned actress Zoe Bell, Raze has seemingly been “coming soon” for an eternity. I distinctly remember first reading about it way back in 2011 and it’s only now, some three years later, that the film is finally seeing the light of day here in the UK. It’s been a long wait but it has DEFINITELY been worth it!

Raze follows kickboxer Sabrina (Bell), who wakes up to find herself in an underground bunker. Soon she realizes that this bunker is actually a modern day coliseum of sorts, where, along with 48 other women, they are condemned to fight each other to the death. The game organizers, turn their kidnapping victims into violent femmes by threatening to kill the women’s loved ones should they refuse to participate in this deathly sport, all for the amusement of unseen spectators. Each of these reluctant warriors has something to lose, but only one will remain when the game is done.

Foregoing a over-arcing story (there’s little to no backstory for a lot of the characters in this film), Raze instead echoes the death-match style of the likes of action classics such as Kickboxer, Bloodsport and the films that those movies spawned such King of the Kickboxers, Ring of Fire et al. but unlike those films, which used shocking violence sparingly, Raze goes for the jugular – literally!

Brutal and unflinching are words that often get banded about when reviewing more extreme horror movies but it’s not the type of language one would associate with an action movie, that is if one could call Raze an action movie. Yes, there are a LOT of fight scenes, with some amazing combat work, but Raze skews more to the horrific side of cinema than action – within the first ten minutes a character is beaten to a bloody pulp, face smashed in and bones broken, in what can only be described as a truly “brutal and unflinching” scene of bare knuckle chick-fighting, that only lays the groundwork for what is actually to come. And what does come is brutal fight after brutal fight, with some of the protagonists enjoying what they do (a little too much) and some participating reluctantly…

Raze has an almost video game like quality to it – matches are introduced with titles cards and the fights don’t end until someone is dead; yet somehow writer Robert Beaucage and director Josh C. Waller still manage to make us feel for the women involved. We hate the psychos and root for the good guys girls, which really helps amp up the tension when the women fight.

In the end, this is another top-notch example of independent action cinema – one, like many we review here on Nerdly, that puts mainstream Hollywood to shame. The only let-down about Raze is that the UK distributor didn’t see fit to give the film a Blu-ray release!

Raze is released on DVD on Monday June 16th, courtesy of Koch Media.

***** 5/5

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