DEL FUEGO Image

DEL FUEGO

By Phil Hall | April 9, 2002

Towards the end of “Del Fuego,” a character known as Little Miss Tokyo (who works as a physician by day and a stripper by night) sighs unhappily and offers the most astonishing declaration: “I’m tired of being smart and sexy.” Strangely, this unusual declaration is the most sane aspect of “Del Fuego,” a wonderfully silly short film which offers a week’s worth of entertainment value stuffed into an amazing 30 minutes.
“Del Fuego” takes place somewhere in New York City; you know it’s New York because all of the men sound like Joe Pesci from “My Cousin Vinny” and all of the women sound like Marisa Tomei from the same film. Central to the story is Javier, a drug addict who opens the film by waking up in the middle of a garbage dump. Javier is an uncommonly well-dressed addict, with a slick trenchcoat and snappy suit and tie, and actor Ricardo Zamudio clues the audience to his character’s narcotized pursuit by sniffing from a tiny bottle and wobbling his jowls about in a manner that recalls Rich Little’s impression of President Nixon. Javier’s sister Jenny works as a cocktail waitress in a strip club where Little Miss Tokyo is the main (and, it would seem) only featured attraction. Jenny tries to draw some attention to herself by wearing a Louise Brooks-style wig, but it doesn’t quite work.
Javier and Jenny live in a grimy welfare hotel which is operated by the thugs who run the strip club. These characters beat up Javier for making goo-goo eyes at Little Miss Tokyo, and he discovers her medical day job when he awakes in a hospital bed to find her preparing to jab a hypodermic needle into his mouth to treat an abscess brought on (according to her immediate diagnosis) by smoking. (The hospital scene is the best recruiting tool for Christian Science imaginable.) Eventually, Javier and Little Miss Tokyo retreat to the welfare hotel for some long overdue smoocheroo while the goons from the strip club, under instructions from an underworld mucky-muck who bears a remarkable resemblance to Frank Lloyd Wright, set fire to the building. Whether or not Javier and Little Miss Tokyo ever realize the hotel is on fire is never quite clear, as the film abruptly ends as the flames (of the erotic and cigarette lighter variety) begin to spark.
“Del Fuego” makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but the film is so nutty that it is hard to find fault with its mild lunacy. As Little Miss Tokyo, the majestically beautifully Jun Kim helps draw a lot of attention away from the deficiencies of script and direction with a smoldering screen presence of such high voltage that oddsmakers should begin accepting bets on how quick she can rise to A-list stardom. She is the rare performer who can activate salivary glands just by walking across the screen, and her striptease number achieves the impossible by generating a year’s worth of erotic energy without the removal of one item of clothing.
Director/writer/producer John Dean Alfone keeps “Del Fuego” moving at a brisk pace and he is helped considerably by evocative 16mm cinematography courtesy of Xavier Henselmann. Hopefully this creative pair can reteam with the extraordinary Jun Kim to bring around further adventures of Little Miss Tokyo in the lands of medicine and/or naughty cabaret.

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