The premise is simple and, despite its obvious cribbing from Reservoir Dogs, holds no small amount of potential.
Six years after being incarcerated for his part in an armed robbery, Fish (Noah Hathaway) is released from prison only to be trapped by a malicious reunion celebration with his former partners. Leading the sinister festivities is Duke (Tony Todd, Candyman), a man who gets off on elaborate rituals, fictions and displays of self-importance (ostensibly any chance to assert dominance and pretend it's a favour).
To lend the occasion some oppressive, humanity-diminishing opulence – not to mention a poorly exploited metaphor – Duke has arranged for sushi to be served on a living platter. As the five walking stereotypes discuss their unfinished business, they are to eat their way from the simple outer sashimi inwards to the risky delicacy of blowfish. You can probably guess where the blowfish is placed on the human meat tray.
In case you're stumped, allow me to quote the group's resident cokehead, Francis (James Duval): "I can't wait to eat cold fish off of a warm cooter!" Yeah, it's that kind of movie.
It's also the kind of movie that counts, among its highlights, a scenery-molesting performance by Mark Hamill as a catty flamboyant sadist.
Before the film makes much use of its blatant metaphorical device, it devolves into gory torture, trash talk, flashbacks and a superfluous, barely developed subplot.
Sushi Girl is never as clever as it pretends to be, telegraphing its minor twists and turns and wearing a clumsy melee of subtexts like a superhero wears underpants. But director Kern Saxton does display a keen sense of symmetry in his shot compositions. This makes for a cinematic meal that's pretty to look at but uses ideas so far past fresh they'd be toxic in fish form. (Phase 4)
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