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International Premiere
  • USA
  • 2013
  • 87 mins
  • DCP
  • English
Hosted by Director Josh Waller and Actress Zoë Bell

Immediate panic sets in when Jamie wakes up in unknown surroundings. She slowly calms down after meeting Sabrina, whom she follows down a hallway leading to a room that looks like little more than a dead end. The door barely has time to close before Sabrina suddenly attacks Jamie, engaging her in savage struggle that can only end with one of them biting the dust. Sabrina’s surprise assault is a typical example of what occurs daily in this godforsaken women’s dungeon where the inmates are forced to fight to the death, all for the entertainment of Joseph and Elizabeth, the pompous organizers of this sadistic sport. Those who lose or refuse to fight suffer the devastating reprisal of having one of their family members executed. Their road to the top will have to be paved with fists and fury if they are to become champion and ultimately win their freedom.

In spite of its very promising premise, RAZE is more than a women-in-prison film. While it does contain several of the conventional elements that popularized the genre in the ’70s and ’80s, RAZE’s modernity makes for a much improved version. In contrast to many directors of the era, Josh Waller focuses on the physical abilities of the actresses rather than their curves. He was fortunate enough to line up an outstanding cast that includes Rebecca Marshall (REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA), Tracie Thoms (DEATH PROOF) and Rachel Nichols (G.I. JOE), not to mention Zoë Bell (also in DEATH PROOF). The charisma and impressive physical range of Uma Thurman’s KILL BILL stunt double masterfully carries her first starring vehicle, largely helping Waller create a film that clearly stands out from all the others. He manages to make the most of his limited underground setting by creating a very intense atmosphere and never letting the narrative evolution become repetitive. What`s really impressive, however, is the quality of the fight scenes. Waller substitutes eye-popping theatrics with extremely physical and visceral confrontations, making it work beautifully. Uniquely violent, the battles and their contestants could go head-to-head with their male counterparts.

RAZE is a refreshing addition to a world that has for too long been strictly associated with gratuitous sex and girls taking showers. RAZE is brutal, RAZE is violent, RAZE hits like a roundhouse to the face.

Fantasia 2013 - RAZE from Fantasia Film Festival on Vimeo.

— Éric S. Boisvert