Thursday, October 25, 2012

Toronto After Dark 2012: My Thoughts on Sushi Girl

Sushi GirlSushi Girl is a dark a violent crime thriller, which seems heavily inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino, mostly notably Reservoir Dogs.  Six years after a diamond heist gone wrong, the gang responsible reunites for a Yakuza-style sushi dinner in order to tie up the loose ends from the crime (and to determine the location of the diamonds).  Duke (Tony Todd) is the smooth-talking leader of the gang, who is heavily influenced by the Japanese Yakuza in how he does his dealings.  Crow (Mark Hamill) is a very flamboyant, yet sadistic, psychopath.  Max (Andy Mackenzie) has a habit of striking out in violence, without thinking first.  Francis (James Duval) is more interested in getting his share than getting his hands dirty.  Finally, there is Fish (Noah Hathaway), the man who took the fall for the gang when the robbery went bad.

Of course, there is also the titular Sushi Girl (Cortney Palm), whose job is to lie on the table as a living plate for the sushi.  She is instructed by the Sushi Chef (Sonny Chiba) not to move or speak, no matter what she sees or hears during the meeting.  Since the film is titled Sushi Girl, you have an idea from the start that she is going to incorporate into the plot somehow.  However, the way she fits into the story is not immediately apparent and she spends the majority of the film lying still, with the occasional reaction shot appearing when the meeting starts to turn sour. 

The main goal of this meeting is to determine the location of the diamonds from the heist, in which the majority of the gang believe bagman Fish to have stashed before he was arrested.  The gang members proceed to tie Fish up and torture him, in an increasingly violent and disturbing manner, in order to get Fish to spill the location of the diamonds.  The film regularly features flashbacks to the robbery, as the pieces of what happened that day slowly begin to come together.

Despite some very disturbing violence that will definitely make you cringe, the film is very much a character piece with many standout performances.  Tony Todd shines in his lead role of Duke, as he displays a quiet menace in his dealings with the gang.  However, the actor that stands out the most in this film is Mark Hamill as Crow.  The character is as far away as you can get from Luke Skywalker and I am sure Hamill was happy to have a live action role that allowed him to show off his dark side in the same way he’s been doing for the last 20 years, as the voice of The Joker is the various Batman animated properties.  There is also an entertaining cameo by the trio of Michael Biehn, Danny Trejo, and Jeff Fahey, which seems to be heavily inspired by their roles in Grindhouse (including a laugh-out-loud sight gag).

Overall, thought that Sushi Girl was a well done and darkly humourous crime thriller.  While some might have the temptation to call the film out as a Tarantino rip-off (complete with Mexican stand-off scene), I thought that this clear homage to Tarantino only served to add to my enjoyment of the film.

 9 | REALLY LIKED IT