GIRL FROM THE NAKED EYE
up like a modern film noir – complete with a pulp paperback
book cover leading us into the heavily narrated action –
The Girl from the Naked Eye has all the trappings
of a modern cult classic. A pity then that it immediately implodes
into a mess of quite staggering proportions.
The film follows Jake (Jason Yee), a remarkably unappealing hero
who we first see cradling the body of dead hooker Sandy (Samantha
Streets) and who – through a series of confused flashbacks
– we discover has taken a job as driver for the girls who
provide ‘outcall’ services from the titular club run
by Simon (Ron Yuan). Jake’s only doing this because he somehow
managed to lose someone’s car in a poker game and needs
to raise $100,000 to pay it back, but soon he’s fallen in
love with the underage prostitute, and is determined to get revenge
on her killer. But who is it? Simon? The corrupt cop in his pay
(Gary Stretch)? Or one of her customers? If you can make it to
the end, the revelation is entirely predictable.
Stylistically, this film is all over the place, being a mix of
film noir, martial arts action, revenge thriller and streetwise
crime film. A heady mix if you can pull it off, but director David
Ren isn’t up to the task, and the results are so bad that
you find yourself wondering if the real plan wasn’t
simply to make a film with ‘so bad it’s good’
appeal. If so, it fails – this is simply bad.
Performances are uniformly awful – Yee is a personality-free
zone, meaning we don’t give a damn about his mission, while
Streets is laughably unconvincing as the supposedly intelligent
‘tart with a heart’ – when she reads some of
her poetry to Yee, you can’t help but conclude that she’s
made the right career choice in prostitution, as literary success
was not waiting round the corner. The love affair between the
two is never convincing, mainly because Yee’s character
is such a sullen yob that you can’t imagine any ‘sensitive’
girl falling for it. The film ultimately makes the fatal mistake
of having characters that are so one-dimensional and unpleasant
that you really don’t give a damn what happens to them,
and as the whole story depends on pulling you into Yee’s
lust for vengeance, that’s quite the hurdle to overcome.
for the supporting cast – Stretch doesn’t… erm…
stretch to an American accent and is as wooden as ever, while
the remaining cast are a mix of hoods to be beaten up in martial
arts battles and topless hookers (if you thought the female characters
in Sin City were one-dimenional sex objects,
you won't much care for this). Sasha Grey, whose presence is singled
out on the sleeve and most definitely deserves better, is in the
film for about two minutes. I hope she did this as a favour for
someone, because if this is the best her acting career will offer,
she might regret quitting the day job.
There is one moment of brief hilarity – Ravel’s Bolero
plays as Yee and some muscle-bound martial artist size each other
up; inevitably though, the resulting fight has none of the fluidity
and poetry that was clearly hoped for, making it less a stylised
dance and more the Hokey Cokey.
In the end, this is a wasted opportunity, and entirely, utterly
dreadful. Don’t waste your time.
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