Things have been slow once again this month as far as posts here go. I have yet to finish a review over at my other blog in some time as well, though I have started one. Maybe I will finish it this weekend. I'm not all that worried about post count here because I have the week off between the holidays that are coming up, so I should get some reviews in then. As long as I feel like writing anyway. The chat that I promised to post was delayed but will happen as far as I know. I was in the mood to watch a movie so I decided to pick something off of Netflix's instant watch. Raze (2013) was also in my DVD queue, so I decided to watch it next in order to have one less movie there.
Sabrina (Zoë Bell) wakes up to find herself in a type of cell. She is released an sent into a small area with a dirt floor inside a stone circle that looks to be a well at some point. Soon, another woman enters. The goal is to fight to the death. Sabrina is one of fifty women who has been kidnapped and will be forced to fight. They are held in cells when not fighting and they get to watch the other women fight and see that their loved ones have a camera on them. If they don't fight, their loved ones will die. If the women die fighting, they are told their loved ones will also die. Sabrina watches on her screen a daughter that she gave up after she was born so she knows these people mean business. Will she be able to kill in order to help her daughter and what happens if she does come out on top?
Raze was co-written by Robert Beaucage, Kenny Gage, and Josh C. Waller, who also directed. Waller wastes no time in getting to the meat of the story which is mostly the fights. There isn't a lot of plot to this movie, as it is just Sabrina and the other women coming to terms with what they have to do. The first fight that we see with Sabrina features a cameo appearance by Rachel Nichols as the woman Sabrina has to fight. Even though we are told that there are fifty women in this series of fights, once we enter the story there are only twenty-two left and out of those we only ever see a handful of them. The story mostly revolves around three women, with a fourth showing up now and then who doesn't mind killing. Sabrina kind of becomes friends with Teresa (played by Tracie Thoms) and Cody (played by Bailey Anne Borders). Their cells are near each other so they can hear each other as well. The friendship isn't played up much, but the writers do make an attempt to make the story more than just the fights. We get to know Sabrina more than the others, but they at least give us a little bit for Tracie and Cody as well. I thought they could have given us more, but what we get is just enough at the same time. We also learn a little about the people that took Sabrina and the others. Supposedly this organization has been around for a long time now and is ran by the husband and wife team of Joseph (played by Doug Jones) and Elizabeth (played by Sherilyn Fenn). There is some information as to how the abduct women but I wanted more. It is barely touched on so it left a lot of questions out there about that. My main question was is there a selection process or is it random? Did they really kill their loved ones if the women did lose? There was at least one time where we see a loved one killed but that was because the woman wouldn't fight. There was no background information, outside of it running for a long time now, about the people or this fight thing they have set up. Does it happen a lot? Once a year? Just so many questions that could have fleshed the story out some. Even though this bugged me, it wasn't the main reason I ended up deciding what score to give Raze. Even though most of the story had to do with the fights, I rather enjoyed watching those fights we get to see. They could be tense and it wasn't always clear who would win. Since the fights were at least interesting, it didn't bother me as much that the rest of the plot could be pretty thin. By the time the ending rolls around, I was expecting to give Raze a high rating. The ending let me down though. It ends in a dark way, which by itself didn't bother me. I can go with dark endings but this one didn't feel right to me. I'm not saying it should have had a happy ending, just that the ending I was given didn't work for me.
Since the fighters don't use any weapons other than their bodies, things never get all that gory. There is some blood at times and some good makeup as far as cuts and swelling go. The fights aren't always the most realistic though. Sabrina beats the first woman we see her fight to a bloody pulp, which I'm pretty sure would have hurt her hands pretty badly. While she does seem to have some pain in her hands at times, it is usually quickly forgotten about. Even so, the effects are good. The goriest things get is thumbs in the eyes. The acting was also good. I enjoyed having Zoë Bell in the lead role. She has a good build in this movie so it was easy to believe she could win her fights. Tracie Thoms has a good sized role as well but rarely shares the screen with Bell. The two were in the film Death Proof together as well, along with Rosario Dawson, who is credited as being in Raze as well. It must have been a very small role though because I don't remember seeing her. Rebecca Marshall plays the part of the woman who looks forward to the fights since she doesn't mind killing. I think my favorite had to go to Bailey Anne Borders. Even though she has a smaller role, I was still wanting her character to live. I was surprised to see Sherilyn Fenn in this film. She isn't around a lot, but it is more than just a cameo appearance.
Even though I ended up feeling like Raze was an average film, I was still impressed by it. I was surprised at how involved I got with the fights and how the rest of the movie was able to hold my attention. It could have been a lot better if the rest of the story had been given some more depth. I would still like to know what they did with the bodies of the dead fighters. Lots of knives and it looked like they were cleaning the bodies. Anyway, I do feel that Raze is worth a shot if you haven't watched it already. It is said to be a horror and action movie. It was a bit more action than horror, but I won't hold that against it. Check it out when you can!
3 out of 5 I wouldn't last very long in a serious fight