February 26, 2013

Sushi Girl (2012)

ON A DARK AND RAINY NIGHT, four men who botched a diamond heist six years ago reunite to celebrate the arrival of their fifth member, Fish (The Neverending Story’s Noah Hathaway), who was just released from prison and has kept his mouth shut about his partners in crime and the location of the diamonds. The celebration takes place during a sushi dinner, served off the naked body of a beautiful woman (Cortney Palm).

However, the celebration quickly turns to suspicion: The four men – leader Duke (Candyman’s Tony Todd), foul-mouthed hothead Max (Andy Mackenzie), recovering addict Francis (James Duval), and effeminate sadist Crow (Mark Hamill) – believe that Fish knows where the missing loot is. And they’ll stop at nothing to find out the truth.

Comparisons of Sushi Girl to Reservoir Dogs are inevitable and multiple. Much like Quentin Tarantino’s neo-classic, Sushi Girl takes place entirely in one central location; several of its criminals torture and mutilate a person to get information; suspicion grows that there’s a rat among them; their heist and its fallout are shown in flashbacks; and it all revolves around a missing stash of diamonds. Sushi Girl even ends with a Mexican standoff between several members of the crew, a la the final showdown between Dogs’ surviving criminals. (A twist following Sushi Girl’s standoff comes off more as “huh” than “wow.”)

Much like Reservoir Dogs, Sushi Girl’s singular setting could lend it to a stage performance – an irony, since the cast delivers their dialogue with such heavy-handed melodramatics it feels as if they’re playing to a theater audience. Nearly unrecognizable in the cast is Star Wars’ Hamill, looking like the love child of Kurt Cobain and Truman Capote. He really seems to be relishing the role, hamming it up without being a complete camera hog. (The cast also includes why-bother cameos by Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, and Danny Trejo (The Grind), all crammed into one five-minute flashback.) 

Sushi Girl director Kern Saxton (who co-wrote the script with the co-star of Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker) offers some wonderful tracking shots and tinges of dark humor. But he makes it hard for us to believe this group of drastically different and combative criminals would even agree on where to get lunch, let alone collaborate on an armed diamond heist. Derivative, gratuitous, and self-indulgent, Sushi Girl is indeed raw…but watching it feels like getting food poisoning of the eyes.


Is it suitable for your kids?
No. Sushi Girl is rated R for strong bloody violence, torture, language, nudity, and brief drug use.
Strong Bloody Violence: Multiple people are shot, with blood splatterings a-plenty; one man has his hand cut off, and the bloody stump is shown.
Torture: Long scenes of torture, where a character is punched repeatedly, has his ribs broken, chop sticks are driven into his legs, and his face is ripped to shreds from a swinging bag of broken glass.
Language: A countless amount of strong profanities, racial epithets, gay slurs, and crude insults.
Nudity: A woman's nude body is shown in close-up and in long shots throughout most of the film (sometimes with strategically placed pieces of sushi covering the naughty bits).
Alcohol/Drugs: The men at the sushi dinner drink sake. A man snorts a line of cocaine.
Miscellaneous: A man vomits into a sink.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
She may be intrigued by the casting of Star Wars icon Mark Hamill in a way-against-type role, but the overabundance of tough-guy talk combined with the graphic violence and torture will probably turn her off.

(gulp) "Uh, I'm sorry sir, but your card has been declined..."

Sushi Girl
* Director: Kern Saxton
* Screenwriters: Destin Pfaff and Kern Saxton
* Stars: Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie, Mark Hamill, Cyrus Alexander, Michael Biehn, Sonny Chiba, Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey, Cortney Palm
* MPAA Rating: R

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