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  Raze Girl On Girl Action
Year: 2013
Director: Josh C. Waller
Stars: Zoe Bell, Rachel Nichols, Tracie Thoms, Bruce Thomas, Bailey Anne Borders, Rebecca Marshall, Allene Quincy, Adrienne Wilkinson, Doug Jones, Sherilyn Fenn, Amy Johnston, Tara Macken, Nicole Steinwedell, Jordan James Smith, Rosario Dawson
Genre: Horror, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: As Jamie (Rachel Nichols) awakens on the floor of this cell, she begins to piece together what has happened to her, something about the date she had last night where she was chatting with some guy she had met recently and mentioned she really wanted to be a kickboxer, professionally, though the chance never arose. This nugget of information appears to have led her to an underground location, where she also recalls being in the bath after going out and suddenly there was a masked man standing above her who knocked her senseless - so that explains how she got there, but it doesn't explain the why. As she wanders out into a corridor, she notices someone behind her: Sabrina (Zoe Bell), and they regard one another warily - could this woman know the purpose of her kidnapping?

Yes she could, it is for them to have a fight to the death in one of those action movie constructs that may have had a glancing acknowledgement of real life, but wasn't going to allow that to bother it, especially when Nichols found herself exiting the plot pretty swiftly once her face had been beaten to a bloody pulp. Interestingly, both she and Bell were producers on Raze, so you have to imagine they were making a film to their own specifications, even if the director was Josh C. Waller and seemed to be orchestrating the mayhem more to his. You could at least see the appeal for stuntwoman Bell, since she embraced roles which demonstrated her physicality and getting to beat up a bunch of her fellow thesps offered her the best of both worlds when she could also emote between the setpieces.

Here the emotions were down to Sabrina having given up her daughter for adoption when she was a younger woman, and now the existence of that daughter is being used against her as she will be murdered should Sabrina not agree to more fights. That's the way this would be set in motion by a rarefied (according to themselves) group of upper classes led by Doug Jones and Sherilyn Fenn who view these matches as sport, though quite what the ultimate victor would get is not too well elaborated upon, leaving it best to watch this for the fights rather than delve too deeply into the narrative, which was flimsy at most given there was so much concentration on the often brutal violence and the setting was more or less an afterthought.

Therefore Raze was a rather empty experience unless you were a fan of seeing actresses pretend to kill each other in hand to hand combat; there may have been allusions to classical myth, and the occasional questions raised about a society that sought to pit women against one another in a competition, be that for the attentions of men or to see who could be best at the whole femininity business, but this was a hollow theme when that was precisely what the movie was doing, and asking us not to tut-tut at this state of affairs but to get off on the situation. This emphasis on the physical - physical strength, really - was not much different from inviting the audience to pick a favourite in light of the best looking performer.

As to those one on one battles themselves, they were well-staged yet unavoidably repetitive, with much concentration on seeing female faces battered and bruised to mess up their looks; if this had contained a more masculine presence to the violence, it would have been unpalatable, which could have you pondering why it was supposedly more acceptable when it was two ladies in an over the top catfight. Or was it acceptable at all? As Raze was classified as a horror movie as well as an action flick, perhaps we were supposed to feel disturbed? In which case that would explain an ending that was one big slap in the face not only to the characters but also to anyone who had been foolish enough to invest anything in wishing to see them succeed in any way. But perhaps that was giving the filmmakers too much credit, they saw the market for a computer game-style beat 'em up film and contributed to it. Also, Sabrina's daughter looks nothing like her - I'd have asked for a DNA test before being compelled to compete. Droning music by Frank Riggio.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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