Millennium Entertainment // 2012 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // August 15th, 2012
How far would you go if the only girl you ever loved was murdered?
Bobby: "So what do you want?" Jake: "Justice."
Jake (Jason Yee) is a driver/bodyguard working for The Naked Eye, a strip club that acts as the front for a prostitution ring. When Jake's current charge, Sandy (Samantha Streets), whom he has developed feelings for, is murdered, he is consumed with rage and sets out to find her killer.
Jake soon realizes that if he is to have any hope of bringing Sandy's killer to justice, he must go up against his own employer (Ron Yuan, Fast and Furious), as well as a corrupt cop (Gary Stretch, Dead Man's Shoes) who is prepared to conceal the truth at all costs.
The Girl From The Naked Eye looks like a million dollars. Adopting a comic book-meets-film-noir aesthetic, director David Ren's movie -- which he co-wrote with star Jason Yee and Larry Madhill -- is visually resplendent, recalling Robert Rodriguez's Sin City, as well as the more recent Bunkaru. In fact, the comparisons to Bunraku go beyond their similar appearances, as both films attempt to hide their numerous shortcomings behind eyeball-piercing visuals in the hope that nobody will notice the lack of substance.
The melding of a martial arts element to this already potent mix of comic books and film noir should have been the icing on the cake, but like everything else about The Girl From The Naked Eye, even this falls flat. The choreography is fine, and the actors -- particularly Yee -- are accomplished ass-kickers. The problem is that there is no sense of urgency to these rumbles, resulting in supposedly big action scenes appearing to be a yard off the pace. What should have been a showstopper (not to mention a clear nod to Oldboy), in which Jake takes on a corridor full of goons, moves at a snailâ€™s pace. It's like playing the latest computer game on your five-year-old PC, and appears labored, rather than inspired.
The film is full of awfully stilted dialogue; with Yee's gruff narration being made up of one cliché after another. It soon becomes tiresome, and highlights the uneasy shoehorning of genres into the film. What worked so well in Sin City and added to that film's gritty edge is an unnecessary addition here, and there's a good argument that The Girl From The Naked Eye would flow a whole lot better had the noir elements been left out all together.
A movie like this relies on word of mouth to find itself an audience, but it's so forgettable that recommendations will be few and far between. To call the film flat out awful would be unjust, but the lack of anything memorable means that it will all but be forgotten within hours of seeing it.
The cast is generally solid, with Yee making for a decent leading man. Given the right material, there's no reason Yee cannot move on to bigger and better things. Yuan and Stretch make for suitably detestable villains, while Streets does well to bring an innocence to the role of Sandy that at least makes Jake's feelings for her understandable.
Director David Ren deserves all the praise he receives for delivering such a stylish-looking flick. Each and every scene has clearly been labored over, and looks like it cost five times what it took to film. It's just a shame that the story -- not to mention the alarmingly sedate action scenes -- can't match the film's visual prowess. I've no doubt that, given a better quality of writing partner, Ren could go on to produce a far more successful picture.
The DVD is lacking any special features, but does sport a top-rate standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Blacks levels are excellent, as are colors. The picture is razor-sharp, packing in a high level of detail. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track delivers clear dialogue, and composer Danny Manor's surprisingly good score. There are no extras.
The Girl From The Naked Eye is a lot like going a date with the woman or man of your dreams, only to find they're a bit boring and far too reliant on their looks to get by.
Review content copyright © 2012 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R