Fish (Noah Hathaway) has just been released from jail, and he’s already being brought back into the fold of the criminals whose botched diamond heist put him away in the first place. Still, when Duke (Tony Todd) calls a meeting, you don’t say, “no” and Fish finds himself under the scrutiny of his former associates Crow (Mark Hamill), Max (Andy Mackenzie) and Francis (James Duval). As the crew sits down for a unique sushi dinner, one where the food is served on the naked body of a young woman (Cortney Palm) in the middle of the table, old scars are torn anew, and some fresh wounds are started.
Sushi Girl is a performance-driven criminal flick done right with brilliant casting. The majority of the film takes place in one room where the main cast practically takes turns showing the audience how incredible they are. It’s an intense, almost inescapable feeling to be stuck in a room with such personalities, but it also keeps you interested and engaged throughout. And if you like violence, you get violence. Dig your crime films to have a healthy dose of nudity? Sushi Girl has that too. None of it is gratuitous to the film, everything fits into the world you’re being presented.
While I think some viewers could casually dismiss Sushi Girl‘s aesthetic or story as derivative of Tarantino, I like to think of it as more of a result of being created in a cinematic world informed by years of Tarantino’s, and other like-minded, films. This isn’t like the mid-to-late ’90s when a bunch of films all popped-up trying to be the next Reservoir Dogs; this is more the result of filmmakers who either enjoyed Reservoir Dogs or appreciated the genre enough to allow their own creative endeavors to explore similar orbits. There is a difference.
That said, the performances in Sushi Girl are what make it great, well beyond any familiarities of aesthetic or plotline. It’s not to say the plot is forgettable, I was definitely interested in figuring out what exactly was going on, but in the end it didn’t really matter to me where the plot went because I had so much fun getting there (I may’ve been saying something different had the film ended up with an alien invasion or something out-of-left-field like that, but it doesn’t so we’re all good here). Everyone on screen delivers a kick-a*s performance; even Jeff Fahey, and he has a cameo that probably adds up to less than three minutes of screen time. The only one who sinks into the background is the sushi girl herself, and that’s because she does such a great job not moving or speaking, I forgot she was even there. Which, you know, was the entire point of her character so… great job!
Since seeing Sushi Girl, I’ve heard it described as a “fanboy’s dream” film. To that I would say, “yes and no.” If you’re a fan of the characters the various actors have portrayed, such as Luke Skywalker or Atreyu, for example, then I think you could find yourself a bit confused by what is coming your way. There’s no Luke Skywalker here (though maybe an aural hint of Joker). On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the various actors period, then this film is right up your alley. Tony Todd oozes sadistic evil, Mark Hamill is grimey and so off-kilter it’s scary, James Duval is somewhat sympathetic yet doomed, Andy Mackenzie is a feral beast and Noah Hathaway shows defiance in the face of what was ultimately the worst vocation choice his character could’ve ever made. All great, all the time.
In the end, while Sushi Girl is not perfect, it was definitely my type of film. Ultimately, I had so much fun with the journey that I came out far more forgiving of the destination. The power of great performances; Sushi Girl had me hooked from beginning to end, and I can’t wait to see it again.