Raze (2013)

Posted in Reviews by - February 05, 2020
Raze (2013)

An atmospheric, intense indie fight film with shades of The Hunger Games, designed as a vehicle for New Zealand stunt performer and frequent Tarantino collaborator, Zoë Bell. She plays Sabrina, a tightly wound ball of violent fury, who wakes up in a strange prison-like setting where an angry drill sergeant and his all-male army force young kidnapped women to fight to their deaths. Sabrina is ex-military, so she makes light work of most of her fellow, more vulnerable inmates, smashing their heads in with her fists. The death matches are part of a weird, age-old, cult-like operation run by an aristocratic couple who also record all of the fighting (quite why they do this, and who is actually watching, is left somewhat ambiguous). Director Waller (making his feature film debut) does well to create a disorientating, claustrophobic, and anxiety-inducing setting on a limited budget, which feels more in keeping with the unsettling horror of torture movies like Saw and Hostel (the film’s more gruesome violence attests to this), coupled by a creepy, effective score. It’s quite far removed from the mindless frivolity you might find in a standard martial arts tournament movie. Captain America choreographers James Young and Sam Hargrave maintain the film’s raw, uncompromising tone through a series of pugilistic fight scenes, with a roll-call of Hollywood’s leading female stunt doubles stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight; people like Tara Macken and Amy Johnston. Also, unlike most ‘women in prison’ movies, this doesn’t appear to secretly harbour some kind of leery, exploitative agenda, or stand solely to titillate audiences of young boys. The story may be prehistoric, but it’s still an unflinching, extreme, and brave film.

AKA: Raze – Fight or Die.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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