Sushi Girl Review by Frank Tobin aka Cluster Duck
About 3 years ago I saw a trailer for a movie. I had no idea what the
plot was, who wrote it, or who directed it. It sorta just coalesced
out of the indie film ether. A patchwork amalgamation of niche genres
and indie tropes. It mesmerized me...
The song is perfect. The visuals are strikingly grind-house. The girl
is exquisite... and, wait, was that... Luke Fucking Skywalker?! And
Candyman? And Machete? Dwayne Hicks?! What is this nerdgasm,
physically manifested on my video-sharing website of choice? It
appears to ape, at least in spirit, Reservoir Dogs, and 70's
exploitation flicks, and the kind of gritty crime dramas made
mainstream by the likes of Tarantino himself.
Must. Watch. Now.
Fast forward ahead 3 years... A lot of shit happened, horrible movie
schlock was watched, and... that one cool looking indie grind-house
flick, what was it called, fuck, Fish Lady? Salmon Female? Erin
Well whatever it was called, I completely forgot about it. Shit, it
took them a dog's age, it seems, to even get a limited release. So I
After the movie was filmed, the director Kern Saxton and his
production crew raised the money for a premiere on Kickstarter.
And was met with mixed reviews. But, seeing as I consider myself, at
least, a tourist in genre subversive independent film peeping, I
decided to finally give it a whirl.
How bad could it really be? Well... I was underwhelmed, to say the
least. It's hardly a cinematic abortion *cough, all Adam Sandler
films, cough* but the overly derivative nature of the narrative kept
it from reaching god-tier.
Let me explain; as is the case with any film, there's a right way, and
a wrong way to tell a story. And any story can be interesting, it just
boils down to execution. In the case of SUSHI GIRL (finally remembered
the damn name), the lurid, seductive, visually entrancing, memorable
opening pulls you in better than any indie flick I've seen in a while.
I mean, it's got Sonny Chiba chopping up raw fish and placing it on a
chart-topping unknown sex-exuding vixen (READ: the actual sushi girl).
The perfect curves of her naked flesh laying on a table, centered
amidst a Japanese themed hole-in-the-wall (which Mark Hamill's
character, Crow, sarcastically points out is more Ming Dynasty in its
design), effectively sets the mood for what's to come. It's a
fantastic opening sequence... but then the characters start talking.
Tarantino perfected gangster speak in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction
in such a fashion that, even though his characters are vile, mostly
immoral, scumbags, you actually enjoy hearing their diatribes. It's
one of the highlights of his films. Here, it just plays like a
hackneyed imitation, devoid of any genuine thought or cleverness.
Clunky is a good word for it.
Continuing with that theme, as the plot chugs along, and you start to
understand why these characters are meeting in a dive, partaking of
the delicious spread, you realize what you're in for... Now, if I
weren't dead inside already, I'd call the torture scenes graphic,
gory, and ultimately unnerving. But alas, my imagination, and ability
to suspend my disbelief, is so shot to shit that nothing grosses me
out or unsettles me (unless I'm looking in a mirror... GET A TAN, FOR
FUCK SAKE). Horror movies bore me, unless they're hilariously gory.
Torture porn is a big yawn. But thankfully the story is written in a
way that, as you piece together where it's all going, the twist ending
actually slaps you in the genitals. You forgot about the bad jokes,
and forced genre dialogue. It was so memorable and out of left field,
I honestly want to watch it again.
Great music, pointless, albeit appropriate, cameos by horror and
grind-house regulars, excellent cinematography, subpar performances,
with a few bright-spots here and there, and an unexpected twist, Fish
Lady (pretty sure that's what it was called) was a surprising treat
that unfortunately wasn't necessarily worth how long I waited to see
it. But then again, that was my own dumbass fault. I recommend it.
Now if I could only eat some SUSHI off a beautiful GIRL...