Review: The Violent and Brutal World of Raze

Raze, directed by Josh C. Waller, is a hard-nosed film, revolving around fifty women who are abducted and forced to fight to the death, bare handed, in order to save the lives of their loved ones.  An aristocratic clandestine cult group carefully selects these women, kidnaps them, and keeps them locked up in a dungeon until their moment of truth arrives.  Only the sole victor of these unlucky women will pass this cruel test, ensuring their survival and that of their immediate family.  As the film unfolds the audience is thrown into a bloody, bone-crushing, and limb-snapping jungle of adrenaline inside an enclosed circular stone cage.  Fight after fight the hand-to-hand combat intensifies, and the competition gets tougher.  Which one of these women will be able to endure the accumulating physical injuries of their battles as well as the mental torture applied by the heads of this sickening and heartless organization?
Sabrina is the protagonist of Raze, fighter extraordinaire, marvelously played by stunt woman and actress Zoe Bell.  Bell naturally endows Sabrina with a potent gladiatorial stature, while never omitting her human vulnerabilities and emotions from any scene.  Sabrina represents all that is dignity, class, and sportsmanship, while being one of the most feared fighters of the pack.  The main obstacle these women must face is not necessarily physical but mental: the ability to endure the demons of this dark enclosure they are trapped in, while remaining focused on winning their upcoming battle. 

Raze is not a film for the faint-hearted or the violent phobic as it is very graphic and real in its portrayal of combat.  The film takes no prisoners, so be ready to witness facial destruction, eye gouging, chocking, and complimentary head bashing into stone.  The fight scenes are shot extremely well, and credit must be given to the actresses as well as the fight choreographers, camera team, director, and editors.  Each fight is effectively choreographed and unique in its development of the visuals while remaining spontaneous and engaging.  What the film lacks is script and character backstory .  The history of these women is only touched upon and would need to be refined in order to further engage the audience emotionally.  With a low budget and an intense film schedule Raze was not given the proper care to make it a polished film.  Merit goes to the cast and crew for making the most of this script that relies too heavily on the allure of its battles.   

—Marco Agnolucci     

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