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Sushi Girl

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    Ian Jane
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  • Sushi Girl



    Released by: Magnolia Films
    Released on: February 19, 2013.
    Director: Kern Saxton
    Cast: Tony Todd, Noah Hathaway, Courtey Palm, Danny Trejo, Mark Hamill, Andy McKenzie, Sonny Chiba
    Year: 2011
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Directed by Kern Saxton, 2012's Sushi Girl follows the misadventures of an ex-con named Fish (Noah Hathaway) who has recently been released from jail after spending the last six years of his life behind bars. Once he's let out, his old boss Duke (Tony Todd) sends some of his men to pick him up. Duke isn't doing this out of the kindness of his heart, however - he has an ulterior motive. You see, Fish went to jail for his part in a diamond heist and Duke is certain beyond a doubt that he stashed the gems before he got picked up by the fuzz. As such, he'd be interested in getting his hands on the loot.

    And so Fish is dropped off out in the middle of nowhere where he reunites with Duke who has gone to considerable lengths to 'get the band back together. Upon his arrival Fish finds himself face to face with his former partners in crime: Francis (James Duval), Max (Andy Mackenzie) and Crow (Mark Hamill). Duke takes the crew all out for dinner where they sit as a group, Japanese style, to enjoy gourmet sushi prepared by a master chef (Sonny Chiba) and served on the body of a very beautiful and very naked girl (Courtney Palm). As they eat their dinner, she stays completely still and says not a single word, no matter how intense the situation around her may become, as skeletons are pulled from closets and the truth about Fish's past and present comes to light.

    A slick crime story shot with plenty of style and a keen eye for unflinching violence, Sushi Girl might initially seem like one of the countless Pulp Fiction/Reservoir Dogs knock offs that have been made over the years. While it's likely that the success of Tarantino's style played a part in getting Saxton's movie made and while it's hard to not see some influence, the movie does wind up going in its own direction in its own way even if it does sometimes wear that influence on its sleeve. Some nice camera work helps to make the sushi restaurant setting far tenser than it has any right to be while a clever soundtrack does a fine job of accentuating mood and atmosphere.

    The real reason to watch this one, however, is the cast - more specifically, Mark Hamill. While Noah Hathaway and Tony Todd are both quite good here and while James Duval and Andy Mackenzie definitely pull their own weight, Hamill's work is manic, inspired and pretty much perfect for the character he portrays. His Crow is more than a little unhinged and seeing him put such physical effort into getting it right is a lot of fun to watch. You're not going to confuse Crow with Luke Skywalker anytime soon. Cameos from Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn and the mighty Sonny Chiba are also fun, but Hamill steals every scene he's in… save for those focusing on Ms. Palm.

    Ultimately, though it takes a bit of time to find its own footing, Sushi Girl works and it works well. It's violent as hell and it earns some respect for showing a bit of creativity in that regard (let's avoid specifics and in turn spoilers) but more importantly it's well made, it has a few keen twists and it features a rock solid cast all turning in excellent work.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The 2.40.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this DVD looks good. There are some compression artifacts noticeable in some of the darker scenes but outside of that the image is clean and stable. Detail is decent for standard definition and color reproduction looks solid. A bit of shimmer shows up here and there and some aliasing but all in all, the move looks good. As the movie was shot on digital video, there are no issues with print damage at all.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix is also of good quality, offering clean, clear dialogue and strong use of the surround channels in a few key scenes. The score is spread out nicely and the levels are balanced. There are no problems with hiss or distortion to report. Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish.

    Filmmakers Kern Saxton, Destin Pfaff, Neal Fischer, and Suren M. Seron offer up the first commentary track while cast members Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie, David Dastmalchian, Destin Pfaff join Kern Saxton for the second. Between the two tracks you definitely get a good feel for what went into making this movie from the perspective of both the cast and the crew.

    The hour long Sushi Girl: A Documentary covers much of the same ground - casting choices, thematic elements and storyline shifts - as the commentary does so there's a fair bit of crossover but there are a lot of behind the scenes clips used throughout that make it worth peeking through. A fourteen minute segment detailing some interviews that the cast and crew conducted at the film's premiere again cover much of the same ground though seven minutes of Producer's Diary segments do lend more insight into what it was like on set.

    Rounding out the extras are seventeen minutes of outtakes, two minutes of deleted material, a fake TV commercial, a music video, a still gallery of promotional artwork, a still gallery of behind the scenes photography, another still gallery of storyboard material and a collection of trailers for the feature. Menus and chapter stops are also included and some trailers for other Magnolia properties play before the main menu screen loads.

    The Final Word:

    Yeah, it's a throwback to seventies exploitation and drive in inspired cinema and, yeah, most of us are tired of that by now but Sushi Girl is at least done well and is worth seeing for the cast alone. Hamill really brings his A-game to this one and the story has a few interesting twists and a couple of really memorable scenes while the DVD from Magnolia is loaded with extras.




















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