Sushi Girl (2013)
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Kern Saxton, Destin Pfaff
Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie, Mark Hamill, Cyrus Alexander, Michael Biehn, Sonny Chiba, David Dastmalchian, Jeff Fahey, Cortney Palm, Destin Pfaff, David Reynolds, Stryker, Danny Trejo
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The Last Supper
Favorite Movie Quote: "We're NOT the Three Amigos - One for all and all for one!"
Crow (Mark Hamill as an "Truman Capotesque" styled sadist, with slightly racist overtones)
Max (Andy Mackenzie, a loose cannon pit bull)
Francis (James Duval, your Everyman), and
Duke (the immortal Tony Todd, as the ringleader, their kingpin)
Side Comment: How did it come to be that all the most dangerous crime bosses today are African American? You have Samuel L. Jackson in JACKIE BROWN, Ving Rhames in PULP FICTION, even the late Michael Clarke Duncan, in DAREDEVIL, whose character name WAS Kingpin! What are we saying here?)
But I digress - back on point.
Fish (Noah Hathaway, (far, FAR away from his NEVERENDING STORY Atreyu days) has just been released from prison - six plus years ("if you include the arraignment and the trial"), for not confessing his part in a botched robbery, and keeping his mouth shut about the others. A driver is waiting for him, to take him to a celebration in his honor - a traditional sushi banquet, served on a totally nude female, with all his "friends" in attendance. After a few strained exchanges, Duke announces the real reason for the gathering. Fish was the bagman for the robbery, but the loot was never recovered. Where is it, and you (Fish) know that answer.
What follows is by far the most brutal, most violent "interrogation" ever put to mainstream cinema.
There have been many comparisons with SUSHI GIRL to the Grindhouse films of Quentin Tarantino. But this reviewer feels that this is doing SUSHI GIRL a gross injustice. True, the film fits the Grindhouse genre, with characters beneath the reach of the law, has unbelievable acts of violence, and gratuitous nudity (no sex), but that is where the comparison ends. Whereas the Grindhouse movies of today, especially of the Tarantino brand, is bogged down with witty, clever dialogue, and the characters are not quite fleshed out as they strain to be lovable and glib, the world of SUSHI GIRL is populated by characters with absolutely no redeeming values whatsoever. You hate these people - you want them to die. Instead of a scintillating banter between the characters, you experience the rawest of emotions. These are men of few words. You watch in horror as Fish is put through unimaginable torture. You could actually hear the audience murmur, "Oh, no....," as the next round of torture is about to begin.
The script is as tight as it could be as the 98 minutes fly by. Director Kern Saxton and co-writer Destin Pfaff waste nothing in the story - everything means something later on down the line, and nothing is a trivance, right down to a cigar cutter used by Duke in the beginning. There were no real standout performances, as everybody had important stuff to do. It was an all-star movie in the truest sense. You could see the actors feeding off each other's energy, helping everyone's performance become a living entity. If the story was the environment, it would truly be self-sustaining.
There were some great supporting performances from David "Dee Fearless" Dastmalchian as Nelson, the fifth person in the heist, and Grindhouse regulars Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Danny Trejo, and Sonny Chiba, and one other character, and that is the Sushi Girl - Cortney Palm, the only woman in the movie - period. It's one thing to be the only woman in an all-male cast. It's another thing to be completely naked for the entire movie. It's a whole other skill set to "disappear" on screen, until even you, the audience, come to regard her a piece of furniture, that is, until the focus in on Courtney exclusively. Though she lay motionless - and emotionless for nearly the entire 98 minutes, her subtle reactions to the horror around her, spoke volumes.
Speaking of volumes, my sole complaint was focused on some of the foley work. A lot of this was done for dramatic effect, which was very effective, but there were other times when it was distracting, pulling me out of the movie. Part of it may have been because the sound in a small venue was excellent, making everything crystal clear, and part may be due to my sitting right next to one of those speakers. Still, a little fine tuning on the sound effects may be in order.
SUSHI GIRL is what the black crime drama (not in the African American sense) used to be, and comes back with a vengeance here. It is chock-full of insider winks, some not-so-subtle, that, when you talk about this film at the water cooler, your friends will tell you parts so the movie you didn't notice previously. You'll need to watch this film several times to appreciate the fullness of the movie.
On my personal rating scale of with "5" being drop everything and see the movie now; if you're female, bear the producers' children and "0" being burn down the theater, murder the movie staff, and violate their dog, this movie earns a whopping "6.5!" SUSHI GIRL will be THE movie to start off 2013. It sets a new standard in Black Crime Drama (this reviewer refuses to call it Grindhouse. In my opinion, it cheapens the level of filmmaking done here), and now, every other Grindhouse filmmaker will now have to play catch-up. With very little conversion, this film could easily be performed on stage, since the action takes place almost entirely on a single set, and the few exteriors could be easily rewritten.
It it rated HARD "R," for constant and severe coarse language, blatant nudity, a lot of sexually-charged dialogue (no actual sex,) and a level of violence that, this reviewer was told that during certain scenes, anyone who did not have to be on set during filming, removed themselves. This reviewer was lucky enough to view the last screening of SUSHI GIRL in the United States until its formal release. It will be available On Demand November 27, 2012 (your Thanksgiving treat), and will be in theaters January 4, 2013. This reviewer is calling this a strong "BUY," when it comes out on Blu-Ray, because you'll want to watch this over and over, discovering new inventions with every subsequent viewing.
This will be the film everyone will be talking about next year!
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Oct 9, 2012 1:26 AM
|Interesting. Thanks for the review, Mike.|
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