Back to Xena and Forward with Violence

One of the guilty pleasure movies for people who are a bit sick and love violence too much for some reason. Like me. Sometimes. I love watching women fight. Sorry, but I just do. And I don’t need any other excuse to make this video. Except maybe that the lead Zoe Bell was a stunt double for Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess and Adrienne Wilkinson, who played Eve/Livia (Xena’s daughter) is also here…


Raze: the prelude to the bloodfest

After she is drugged and abducted, Jamie (Rachel Nichols, Continuum) awakens to find herself in a concrete bunker where she meets fellow abductee Sabrina (Zoe Bell, Death Proof). Before long the two women discover that they are in a modern-day coliseum, where they and 48 other women have been selected to fight to the death in order to save both themselves and their loved ones. Co-starring genre favorites Doug Jones (Hellboy) and Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), director Josh C. Waller’s Raze is a no-holds-barred assault on the senses featuring some of the most brutal action combat ever put on film. In this contest, may the best woman win. []


Critics and some details

Built around a lead performance by Tarantino-favored stuntwoman Zoe Bell and featuring fanboy-bait actors in supporting roles, the picture’s stripped-down brutality may connect with some genre diehards; others will leave the theater wanting to volunteer at a battered-women’s shelter as penance for contributing to the pic’s box office receipts.

Perhaps the most galling thing about Raze is its opening title card, which cites statistics about the number of women who go missing in any given year — the co-opting of real-world suffering making it that much harder to go along with Waller’s idea of it’s-only-a-midnight-movie kicks. []

Bell has a tremendous physical credibility. Broad-shouldered, with muscular limbs and a sharp, spade-shaped nose that goes well with a scowl, Bell looks like a real bruiser, ready to bash someone’s face in to survive. Whether she can act is irrelevant; the role requires her to do little more than look like someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

With such a capable physical performer in the lead (Bell was Lucy Lawless’ stunt double on Xena: Warrior Princess and Uma Thurman’s in the Kill Bill movies), director Josh Waller could have easily made the movie’s many fights physically credible. Instead, he opts for quick cuts, dim lighting, and tight framings that make the movement of the fighters difficult to discern. In this approach, injury gets emphasized over movement, and the fights become repetitive slugfests, invariably climaxing in a neck snap or a scream. []

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