Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa, a petty criminal
forms an ambiguous bond with the upscale prostitute he is hired to drive. It is a good movie, so try to forget it,
temporarily. While their relationship is
superficially similar, this tale of a working woman and her schlepper is all
about pulp and revenge. Yes, the title
character will unfortunately only be appearing in flashbacks throughout David
Ren’s The Girl from the Naked Eye (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
self-described hash-up, Jake is taking the death of his high class call girl
associate Sandy rather hard. Deep in
debt to the mob, he took a job with the Naked Eye, a strip club whose sleazy
proprietor Simon makes his real money running the top girls as prostitutes. Jake used to be Sandy’s driver, but requested
a new assignment right before her murder.
His feelings for her will become clear from his series of ruminative flashbacks.
the present day, Jake only has one concern: making the killer pay. Obviously, he wants to know who saw her last,
but Simon will not willingly give up her client list. A savage beat-down later, Jake is on the
trail, but he will have to contend with Simon’s thugs and his crooked cop
partner, who is in serious damage control mode.
must strip club week for the indie movie release beat, with Eye hitting theaters along with Mathieu
Demy’s more heralded Americano. Ironically, Eye’s lack of pretense earns it a limited nod over its self-serious
French competitor. Though far from
classic, at least feels no need to apologize for a little sex and violence.
action director-co-star Ron Yuan makes several key contributions, including an
inventively staged decidedly un-Raid-like fight sequence, in which Jake and four
security guards all become increasingly battered and exhausted as it stretches
on. He also gives the film a jolt of
energy as Simon, delivering a surprising number of laughs and developing real
anti-chemistry with Brandy Grace, who makes quite an impression as Angela, his
caustic mistress and top earner.
Eye also features
two entertaining more-or-less cameos, including Sasha Grey, appearing fully
clothed as a bystander in Simon’s hotel for hookers. Dominique Swain has a bit more substantial
role as Alissa, a not yet disillusioned lady of the evening, who gives the
dense Jake a few helpful tips, via Nancy Drew.
Both give brief lifts to the film’s moody luridness. Every bit helps, especially since leads Jason
Yee and Samantha Street are bit bland in their dramatic scenes together as Jake
and Sandy. Still, the former is quite
convincing in his action scenes.
too hard to be noir, Eye is weighed
down by narration that would be over the top even for a parody (which it might
possibly be). Nevertheless, the colorful
supporting cast deserves props for embracing the grindhouse vibe. Clearly a B-movie best saved for late night
cable viewing, The Girl from the Naked
Eye nonetheless opens this Friday (6/15) in New York at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Ron Yuan, Sasha Grey, Strip club movies