Remember Fight Club? Remember thinking Fight Club was supposed to be about . . . fight clubs? Remember thinking how cool the commercials were, making you think Fight Club was going to be about fight clubs? Remember after watching Fight Club how disappointed you were? Remember saying to yourself, “Fight Club had nothing to do with fight clubs.” Remember how much it sucked? Yeah, I said it . . . Fight Club sucked! Well, do I have a movie to tell you about. It ain’t Fight Club because this film is about three things Fight Club wasn’t; it’s about fighting—brutal, bare-knuckle brawling to the death—and chicks . . . lots and lots of chicks. And it’s nothing like that crappy, pretentious “comment on society” vile piece of crap we know as Fight Club.
Zoe Bell, better known as Uma Thurman’s stuntwoman/better half from Kill Bill 1 & 2, stars as Sabrina, a vet who finds herself in a bit of a predicament. You see, she’s been kidnapped (how or why is never explained nor are there many things explained in this film), and sent to a prison-like environment where she, and this is the fun part, and 50 other women must fight to the death or else their next of kin is killed by the secret society that runs this bizarre bloodsport tournament (again, we’re not given any info at all about this “secret society.”). Of course the loser of the fight not only loses their life but their next of kin gets killed anyway. The winner gets to fight another day, their next of kin gets to live another day, and now you see why this film is nothing like Fight Club was back in the day. See what I did there?
Director Josh Waller presents us with an updated, women in prison flick that offers very little in social commentary (although some will say it’s a look into misogyny). We begin with Jamie (Rachel Nichols) waking up in a red corridor trying to remember the events of the night before. Sabrina out of nowhere then confronts Jamie and beats Jamie to death, the scene ending with Sabrina yelling, “How many more do I have to kill?” All this happens before any credits roll! You definitely don’t want to be stuck at the concession stand and miss out.
What we do know about this secret society is that it’s run by a mysteriously weird married couple, Joseph (Doug Jones) and Elizabeth (Sherilyn Fenn) who believe the last woman standing earns some sort of empowerment and acceptance into their creepy high society world. With no other options other than to kill or be killed, Sabrina and her fellow prisoners have to fight, even fighting their “friends” when they’re pitted against them. A nice touch is a title card with the women’s name preceding each match. Also, the fight scenes are brutal but well-choreographed. They’re too numerous to keep track of but let’s just say there’s plenty of blood and guts, heads being bashed against walls, broken necks, and one instance of a prisoner actually biting off her wrist just to end her torture and slowly bleeding to death. Ouchie!
With a run time of over 80 minutes the fights keep coming at you non-stop (we are only treated to watching the last six fighters who’ve made the cut). Of course, you have the usual cast of female stereotypes—the sweet naïve girl, the basket-case, the swaggering loose cannon who loves to kill, the mental case, and of course Sabrina who is seen as the leader, the heart and soul of the group, and most likely champion (if you can call it an honor).
Raze is the kind of film you’d expect from a first time director. It’s not a bound to be classic, at best a cult favorite, but certainly will appeal to guys who dig watching chicks walking barefoot and beating the hell out of each other. WARNING: There’s no sex, nudity or even any mild hints of lesbianism which I always assumed to be required when filming a women in prison film. But there is a bit of eroticism in the fight scenes themselves which look totally believable in an otherwise unbelievable film.
Raze definitely ain’t no Fight Club — it’s a fun, gory thriller where you can check your brain at the door and enjoy. It doesn’t have classic written all over it, but you won’t feel too disappointed after watching it. Raze is what it is, a film about girls fighting one another to the death, that’s it.
Take a Drink: when you realize every prisoner is issued the same exact tight white tank top, grey sweatpants, and are barefoot for the entire film for some reason.
Do a Shot: for the film’s climatic scene where Sabrina psyches herself out, loosens up, and runs into the fight room WWE style.
Do a Double: to catch a very brief glimpse of Rosario Dawson getting her head bashed in, and who obviously would rather not have people know she had any involvement in the film whatsoever.
Do Many Shots: for the film’s completely ludicrous ending (Really? That’s how you’re going to end this movie . . . really?)