“Raze” pits Zoe Bell against other women in a forced “Fight Club” scenario

You don’t have to know much about AfterEllen.com bloggers to know that we are suckers for women in tank tops. One of us even devotes substantial space on her personal blog to featuring such women — and we are ever so grateful.

Sometimes, however, a pretty woman in a tank top can lead us to places we’re not sure we want to be. And that brings me to this — a publicity still for the movie RAZE.

I confess, my first thought was that these two women — Sabrina (Zoë Bell) and Jamie (Rachel Nichols) — are asleep. After all, Jamie seems to be embracing Sabrina, and they are wearing the standard bedtime uniforms of lesbians everywhere: pajama pants and tank tops.

If only.

Actually, these two women are in a fight to the death and Jamie has Sabrina in a choke hold. That’s what the “Fight or Die” tagline means.

Still, the premise is intriguing — two women forced to fight for their lives in a tournament-like death match. Director Josh Waller describes it asTaken meets Fight Club meets Eyes Wide Shut, the latter in that there is an underground aristocracy at its core. I wanted to try to track something closer to the gladiator days, as if this is something that has been happening since ancient Rome … they just went underground.”

Here’s the promotional trailer.

So far, so good, right? We already know and love Bell and Nichols. Bell is one of the top female stunt performers in the world. She was Lucy Lawless‘ stunt double on Xena and Uma Thurman‘s in Kill Bill. She also starred in Death Proof and web series Angel of Death. I recognize her as one of the Hurl Girls from Whip It.

Nichols, among many other things, played Rachel Gibson in Alias (where she had a fight scene with Bell) and had a short-lived role in Criminal Minds when the producers misguidedly tried to get rid of A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster to save money. (I liked Nichols on the show; we just wanted Cook and Brewster back.) One of her most memorable appearances was in the otherwise forgettable G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra.

What gives me pause is the story of how Jamie and Sabrina end up in the “arena.” Waller told Dread Central that “in RAZE, there are beautiful women from all over who are abducted specifically to fight. [The women] are forced to fight and they don’t know who by, but they have to fight or they die.”

Hmm.

Nichols explains that the movie initially looks like a rom-com. Jamie is a workaholic whose roommate thinks she needs to get out more and sets her up on a date. Things are going well, but the next thing Jamie knows, she’s trapped in a bloody, brutal death match.

What bothers me is the whole aspect of beautiful women abducted and forced to fight. Once again, females are victims. Is that the only way a movie like this can fly? Why can’t we have an all-girl Fight Club?

I’ll be honest: This isn’t my kind of movie, either way. I love both Kill Bill movies, but I have to look away during the violence. In Girlfight and Million Dollar Baby, I have to mute the sound when the punches get too real. The graphic violence in RAZE probably is way too intense for me.

Still, I’d like to know that the female characters are in charge of their own fates, regardless of what they choose to do.

I hope I’m overreacting, because I really like the idea of Rachel Nichols and Zoë Bell kicking ass in their tank tops. But I’m not ready to follow them — yet.

What do you think? Does the premise of RAZE sound interesting or is it another way to show women as victims? Sound off in the comments.

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