Although it’s disappointing that the tagline for Josh C. Waller’s Raze isn’t “One big room, full of bad bitches,” the stand-in “you should see the other girls” is a pretty fantastic way of getting the film’s message across: do not mess with Zoë Bell. The New Zealand-born stuntwoman turned actress, best known on the acting side of the screen for her work beating the hell out of Kurt Russell in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, has her work cut out for her in the female fighting flick, which she also produced.
Bell plays Sabrina, who is abducted along with 49 other women and deposited in a warehouse of horrors where they are forced to brawl. The catch on top of the crazy is that their captors have taken one of their loved ones ransom as well; if they lose their fight, their child or husband or lover will also lose their life. Not that their forced cage fighting was a super casual walk in the park before, but it’s a battle to the death now.
It’s unclear at this point why Doug Jones and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne, no!!) are doing this to their captives, Fenn’s little inspirational quip about how women “have to be devious in this world” means that this film probably isn’t just about women fighting – it’s about women fighting. Have they been captured as some sort of experiment on femininity or womanhood? Sabrina is seen going absolutely off the wires (HAM, if you will) when it’s revealed that she’s fighting to keep her daughter from getting murdered. Once she knows it’s her child that she has to protect and not just her own life that she’s saving, Sabrina (and the other women, look at the one who realizes her husband is in danger) is instantly saddled with a hell of a lot less qualms about taking other people’s lives. So, Audrey Horne, I really wish we had that whole clip in the trailer – are women devious in this world because they have to protect their young, or because they’re willing to rip each other apart?
Whether or not the flick is going to be some girlsploitation Bloodsport or just ladies punching ladies in the name of kicking ass is yet to be determined. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could be the latter – a sturdy fighting movie about strong, skilled women with the brilliant Zoë Bell in the lead, no mushy motives or otherwise female-driven reason for their ordeal given? A movie where the focus is on the outstanding fight choreography and the insane blood and gore; let’s face it, there are 50 competitors in a bare-knuckle death match so the blood is probably going to flow freely.
Hopefully, with Bell overseeing things in the producer’s chair that means some of her influence rubbed off on the flick and it’s just what you’d expect from her previous work. The frequent Tarantino collaborator and stuntwoman has never quite shied away from a fist, katana or windshield connecting with her face – and has never seemed to say yes to a role that made her or any woman she’s stood in for look weak, either. Why start now?