Sushi Girl Blu-ray Review: Reservoir Dogs’ and The Usual Suspects’ Slightly Underdeveloped Lovechild

How’s this for a pitch: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Candyman (Tony Todd), Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), Donnie Darko‘s Frank the Demonic Rabbit (James Duval), “Ugly Toenails Hood” from Shoot ‘Em Up (Andy Mackenzie), and one of the Joker’s thugs from The Dark Knight (David Dastmalchian) decide to steal some diamonds from Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo), Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), and the Lawnmower Man (Jeff Fahey), but the whole thing goes Reservoir Dogs when a chance car accident sees newish-comer Cortney Palm turning Keyser Soze and enlisting the aid of martial arts legend Sonny Chiba to exact revenge.  Yeah, that just happened in director Kern Saxton’s Sushi Girl.

Fish (Hathaway) just got out after six years in prison, having kept his mouth shut about what happened the day of the heist and protecting his cohorts. He says the diamonds were lost.  The others aren’t so sure, so they start asking questions during a staged “celebration” featuring a spread of sushi presented on the body of a stoic naked young woman (Palm).  Questions lead to some graphic unpleasantries.  It can be a bit hard to watch in places, but if you made it through Reservoir Dogs unscathed, you’ll probably be fine here.  As Fish is interrogated, flashbacks start to catch the audience up on what happened the day of the robbery. However, this is one place I felt more could have been done. When you look at the flicks from which this draws inspiration (Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects), there’s much more said about who the characters are, what their motivations are, and you find yourself connecting with each one of them.  There’s not enough depth or attention given to the players here to build that sort of bond.  Even Biehn, Fahey, and Trejo are sorely underutilized, only appearing for about two minutes of the entire movie.  Because of that, it’s kind of hard to feel bad about anything that happens to these guys except to the seemingly innocent Fish.

That said, while Duke (Todd), Francis (Duval), and Max (Mackenzie) fall into fairly typecast roles of ringleader, weasel, and brawn-over-brains, respectively, special praise goes out to Mark Hamill for solidly delivering on the well-dressed, sophisticated, effeminately psychotic Crow.  He was easily the best part of the show, and Hamill is pretty spry for having aged 61 years here.

It’s a tough task balancing such carefully timed and planned out elements throughout the story that aren’t revealed until the end.  Fish is about to spill the beans when suddenly he can’t, Sushi Girl almost bites a bullet and Duke could have passed on that last bite of fish, both of which would have toppled the whole twist ending….these things work out to the benefit of the story more by utter chance than by skillful manipulation of the characters.  But just when you start to realize how luckily everything turned out and might have doubts, let’s remind the audience of exactly how much naked girl there is on that table.  You like that?  Nevermind those almost-plot-holes.  Boobies.

The disc is replete with extras, including writer/director/cast feature commentary, alternate scenes, outtakes, a documentary about the story, fake TV commercials, music videos, cast and crew interviews, image galleries, and a whole lot more.  They really went all-out.

Despite some minor shortcomings, it’s not a bad flick.  Much of the time it’s pretty entertaining and engaging, and unravels a decent little mystery along the way.  Fish’s interrogation was a bit strong for my tastes (especially in crisp 1080p), but it was well set up with Duke’s story about his POW steelworker father and is appropriate for the kind of people we’re dealing with here.  The pervasive sense of style, ensemble cast, and Hamill killing it as Crow make it worth a watch, not to mention Ms. Palm’s bright future as a bareback erotic centerpiece.  She can adorn my dining room table any day.

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Mark Buckingham

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