Saturday, March 2, 2013

DVD Review: SUSHI GIRL (2012)

Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: R
Duration: 99 Minutes
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Kern Saxton
Cast: Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie
Mark Hamill, Sonny Chiba, David Dastmalchian, Michael Beihn, Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey, Cortney Palm
Tagline: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Raw

Synopsis: Brand new prison parolee Fish (Noah Hathaway) has spent the past six years in incarcerated following a botched diamond heist, the only one of a crew of five to get nabbed by the police afterward, being a stand-up guy he's not rolled on any of them while in prison, their secrets are safe. The very night he is released from the prison he's invited to a celebration dinner reuniting the five men who performed the heist, and what begins as a congratulatory and lavish Yakuza-style sushi dinner served off the nubile flesh of a gorgeous young woman (Courtney Palm) quickly turns quite a bit more sinister when old wounds are re-opened and the proverbial salt is applied with bitter viciousness as Fish's former friendlies attempt to find out just what exactly happened to the missing diamonds following his incarceration. 

The leader of the crew of criminals is Duke (Tony Todd), a well-mannered but menacing presence, it is Tony Todd after all, the guy just does not do sweet. Duke is joined for dinner by the perversely effeminate Crow (Mark Hamill), the bearded mad dog Max (Andy McKenzie) and the coke-sniffing Francis (James Duvall), whom is the most square of the bunch, his former life of crime seems to have left a bad taste in his mouth and he's reluctant to join in on the Duke's sadistic games, particularly a torture game involving a storied three-minute timer, interrogation and brutality. We get all manner of the ultra-violence as the crew not-so-politely inquire as to the whereabouts of the missing loot, there's a sock full of broken glass upside the face, broken ribs, chop sticks used rather inappropriately, the fingering of an open wound and the removal of teeth, it's not for the squeamish but fear not for it's not on the level of what some might all "torture porn" either. I'd put it right up there with the "ear" scene from Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992). There's some undeniable and delicious Tarantino influence throughout the film, particularly the dialogue which is razor sharp and the words spewing from Todd and Hamill's mouths are delightful to the ears. it was particularly enjoyable to see Mark Hamill seemingly channeling an effeminately perverse version of his iconic Joker character from Batman - The Animated Series, truly sublime.

The cast is superb through and through with great volatile chemistry from the main bunch of guys as they spew barbs of sarcasm, we also get fun cameos from genre legends Danny Trejo and Sonny Chiba, plus a brief Planet Terror (2010) reunion of Michael Beihn and Jeff Fahey, loved it! It took me a few minutes to place James Duvall, whom I remember so fondly from Doom Generation (1995) and Donnie Darko (2001), he's not quite so baby faced these days and I wondered what the Hell happened and then I went to the bathroom and took a look at myself in the mirror, what the fuck happened indeed. Sushi Girl is just a great watch from start to finish, it's a bit of heist film, there's a great revenge thread and it ought to thrill fans of classic grindhouse cinema as well as those who love the recent wave of exploitation throwbacks, too. 

The DVD comes jam-packed with extras including two audio commentaries from the filmmakers and cast, a reel of outtakes, an alternate reveal and ending, a producer's video diary, a hour long making-of documentary, trailers, poster and still galleries and my favorite would be some retro shot-on-video aesthetic commercials which were quite fun, Sonny Chiba selling soy sauce, gotta love it. Also, be on the lookout for a great Easter egg featuring Mark Hamill and a prop from a certain Kevin Smith film, it's a fantastic edition sure to please special feature lovers.

Special Features: 
- Filmmaker Commentary with Kern Saxton, Destin PLaff, Neal Fischer and Suren M. Seron
- Cast Commentary with Tony Todd, James Duval Noah Hathaway, Andy McKenzie, David Dastmalchian, Destin Plaff and Kern Saxton- Sushi Girl: A Documentary (59:54)
- Outtakes (16:59) 
- Producer’s Diaries (7:22) 
- Sushi Girl Music Video: "Victories and Consequences: by Send the Sages (3:52)
- Fake TV Commercials a la Sushi Girl: Falkore Plumbing (1:34), Colonax (2:06), Killaman Soy Sauce (0:36)
- Alternate Reveal (0:30)
- Alternate Ending (1:53)
- Poster and Promotional Image Gallery
- Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery 
- Storyboards
- Trailers: Green Band Grindhouse Trailer (2:07), Red Band Voices Trailer (1:55), - Magnolia Trailers: John Dies at the End (3:53), ABC's of Death (3:54) 

Verdict: A pretty fucking sweet, fast-talking, slice of revenge awesomeness, a great watch and it gets a high recommend, fun stuff. A great feature film debut from filmmaker Kern Saxton right outta the gate, can't wait to see what's next for the young director, this is exciting stuff.  4 Outta 5