Opening day seven of the 2012 Toronto After Dark Film Festival was the over the top and bloody Sushi Girl. I had been hearing mixed reviews for this one, but was very interested to see Mark Hamill play a psychotic villain.
After six years in jail, taking the fall for his gangs botched jewel theft, Fish (Noah Hathaway) is finally released. His former gang members have been waiting for him, but not to get their friend back. They want to know where Fish has hidden the diamonds, but Fish says he never had them. Over the course of an evening, Fish will be beaten and tortured by his old crew until he gives up the diamonds. Is Fish actually the one with the diamonds though?
Sushi Girl unfortunately winds up being a very middle of the road kind of film. Watching the various actors is great fun, especially Mark Hamill as Crow. Rounding out the gang of thieves is Noah Hathaway as Fish, Tony Todd as Duke, James Duval as Francis, and Andy Mackenzie as Max. Their performances would have played out better if the dialogue had been more entertaining. The idea behind everything starts out quite well, but it seems like it could have built more on the fact that anybody could have the diamonds. This really doesn’t come into play until very close to the end. There isn’t much doubt in the characters minds, even though Fish maintains that he does not have the diamonds, and he continuously tries to question the others about whether they have them or not.
There are moments where the dialogue comes together, especially in a scene where Tony Todd explains where a timer that he has, came from. That scene may be one of the best that I’ve ever seen from Todd, so it’s a shame that there weren’t more moments like that. Really, it’s Mark Hamill that steals the show. He’s been doing voice work for years, known for his work as the Joker in various Batman games and cartoons, and his role of Crow brings in some of those elements. What’s so great about it is that it’s not just the Joker as a real person. I’m sure it would have been very easy to just channel that same character, but Hamill creates an entirely new psycho here.
Surprisingly, there is some brutal violence in the film. Fish finds himself tied to a chair while Crow and Max take turns tormenting him. All they want is the location of the diamonds, but if Fish knows, he’s not telling. Teeth are removed, acupuncture with chopsticks is performed, and a sock full of broken glass is used, resulting in a bloody mess. It’s hard not to compare the film to Reservoir Dogs, but the varying degrees of dialogue keeps this one from becoming an instant classic. The final moments of the movie are at the very least foreseeable, if not completely expected, and it’s this that really takes away from the movie. Overall, it’s an enjoyable watch, just for some of the outrageous characters and brutal violence.
Under the marquee – Will