RAZE. It’s a movie you may not have heard of, but one you should stop and check out. The new indie film starring actress/producer/stuntwoman/all-around bad-ass Zoe Bell plays out like the Hunger Games for grown-ups. The premise behind the film is that a group of woman are kidnapped and held in these underground cells. Randomly two women are selected and placed in a small room together and are expected to fight to the death. If they don't fight, their captors will kill members of their family. If they lose the fight, their captors will kill a member of their family. Win and they get the chance to fight again and their families are safe. The fights continue until one woman is left remaining. The reason behind all this? Well, you are just gonna have to check out the film to find out the rest.
The film is a dark ride from beginning to end, but for those of you who like an intense ride from beginning to end then this is for you. Now I am not saying this film is perfect. It isn't, but it's fun, the story is interesting and these girls pull of some pretty insane fights. The fight intros are reminiscent of old school video game fights like Mortal Combat or Street Fighter. There are also some crazy cameo appearances and surprise actresses like Rosaio Dawson and Tracie Thoms (we are getting the Death Proof gang back together!).
The story centers around one girl in particular names Sabrina, played by Zoe Bell. She is fighting for the safety of her daughter, whom she gave up for adoption when she was a baby. Zoe knows how to play this type of role like a champ, not only is she an on screen ass-kicker, but she actually is one is real life, with a back ground in martial arts and working as a professional stunt woman. For those of you that are not familiar with some of Zoe Bell, you might remember her from being the killer stunt-woman who rode on the hood of the car in Quentin Tarentino's Death Proof, as Derby girl Bloody Holly in the 2009 film Whip It, or as one the trackers from Django Unchained. In this movie, we can see the inner struggle of Sabrina as she fights for this child who she hasn't laid eyes on in years, but she is willing to go as far as she has to to ensure she stays safe.
The only real complaint I have about this film is wanting more. I feel like the plot left a lot of rooms for questions. It seems many of these girls were handpicked based on some sort of dating website possibly or something along those lines, but they have chosen girls who seem to have special skill sets. Whether it be martial arts backgrounds of military. Where does the screening process take place? Also we never seem to get a clear idea of how long these girls have been missing. We see their families being watched by their kidnappers, but few seem worried that their loved ones have gone MIA. Majority of these things didn't really hit me until after the credits were rolling; because I was too busy watching the action, but it is something to think about during the downtime. There seems to be a possibility of leaving this one open for a sequel so who knows, we may eventually find answers to these few question.
HFF had the pleasure of checking out the film at the Alamo Drafthouse - Vintage Park with Zoe Bell in attendance to intro the film and offer a Q&A with the audience. As a movie buff I have to say there are few things more cool than getting to watch a film with one of the cast present and seeing them be just as excited about the film that they have made, even if they have seen it a hundred times. It just makes the experience that much more awesome. You can tell just from hearing the way she talks that she loves what she does.
Overall, I gotta give RAZE a solid B. Plenty of action and a cool story make this one fun to watch. You can check it out nightly now through Friday, January 21st at the Alamo Drafthouse - Vintage Park.