After six years in prison, the newly sprung Fish (Noah Hathaway, Troll) may be spurned by his family, but is welcomed back with open arms and a party thrown by the devious Duke (Tony Todd, Final Destination 5). Also invited to the exclusive event — a yakuza-style dining experience of eating sushi off a naked woman (Cortney Palm, Silent Night) — are their fellow cohorts from a diamond heist that ended badly. It just ended worse for Fish, because the others weren’t sent behind bars.
As soon becomes evident, Duke and the others (most notably, Star Wars vet Mark Hamill, stealing every scene as the effeminate Crow) are less concerned with wishing Fish well than they are at wanting their cut — a word that takes on more than one meaning after Fish is duct-taped to a chair. Each diner gets his turn at torture; each thirsts so heavily for their fair share of the stolen loot that he crosses an invisible line. Prepare to flinch.
Taking place largely in this one room, Sushi Girl would not exist without Quentin Tarantino having blazed a trail for such tough-guy shenanigans, both dialogue-driven and violence-prone. Todd does his best Ving Rhames, and one of the Magnet-released Blu-ray’s many features includes a Grindhouse-styled trailer. Remarkably, this indie does a better job of co-opting Tarantino than the bigger-budgeted, all-star affair of Seven Psychopaths.
Like a sushi chef, feature-debuting director/co-writer Kern Saxton excels with presentation, paying attention to all the little details that pay off. Some of these are strictly visual; others reside in the casting, which gives bit parts to genre favorites Sonny Chiba, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey and Danny Trejo. But Saxton has an eye on the big picture, as well, keeping Sushi Girl alive with action and tension.
It should say a lot that you forget a naked woman is even present. —Rod Lott