The Girl from the Naked Eye (2012) Naedomi Media/Action-Thriller RT: 84 minutes Rated R (pervasive language, strong bloody violence, nudity, strong sexual content, alcohol use) Director: David Ren Screenplay: David Ren, Jason Yee and Larry Madill Music: Danny Manor Cinematography: Max Da-Yung Wang Release date: June 15, 2012 (US) Starring: Jason Yee, Samantha Streets, Gary Stretch, Dominique Swain, Ron Yuan, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Sasha Grey, Jerry Ying, James Lew. Box Office: $10,185 (US)
WOW! I cannot believe how much I enjoyed The Girl from the Naked Eye, a lurid little action/thriller that plays like an installment from the 2005 cult fave Sin City. Its title card is the cover of a detective pulp fiction paperback from the 30s, complete with sleazy artwork depicting a half-naked woman, and that should give you a good idea of what to expect from this movie. In the fashion of 40s film noir, the main character narrates the action of The Girl from the Naked Eye via voiceover as he drives through the neon-lit urban landscape of a city populated by sleazy underworld characters. His name is Jake (Yee) and he's looking for the person who murdered his friend. He's a compulsive gambler attempting to earn $100,000 to pay off a debt and he takes a job working as a driver for Simon (Yuan), the lowlife owner of a seedy strip club called the Naked Eye. He runs an illegal escort service out of the place and he hires Jake as one of the drivers .... you know, those guys who drive the girls back and forth to their various clients. As the driver, Jake also acts as bodyguard and protector, he makes sure that no harm comes to the girls and that they get paid, it's a good thing that he has some mad fighting skills! That's where he meets and befriends teenage runaway-turned-prostitue Sandy (Streets), a 16-year-old girl who's obviously very intelligent and sophisticated (she writes poetry and loves Clara Bow movies). As the movie opens, Jake finds her shot to death in her apartment and he swears to catch her killer.
Who killed Sandy? That's the $64,000 question and Jake is determined to find the answer. The list of suspects includes any one of her clients and they're all conveniently listed in Simon's little black book. It goes without saying that Jake compels Simon (he beats the crap out of him!) to hand it over. Of course, Simon might be the killer. Or it could be Jake's old boss trying to scare him into paying back the $100,000 gambling debt. After all, it was his car that Jake lost in that poker game. Maybe it's the corrupt police lieutenant Frank (Stretch)? He does have a substantial piece of all of the criminal activity in the city. As Jake drives around following the trail of clues, he flashes back to his short-lived friendship with Sandy and we see that he came to see himself as more than just her protector. He comes to care about the young girl and attempts to convince her to get off the streets. I love the lurid and sleazy atmosphere of The Girl from the Naked Eye, the movie has a look that's instantly eye-catching and it stands out among most of the generic action/thrillers on the DVD rack. You see, this movie only opened in a handful of theaters and I suspect that many (if not all) of you will see this flick in the comfort of your own living room. Admittedly, it's somewhat predictable and many viewers should have no problem fingering the killer early on in the proceedings. So what? It's totally worth watching! I've already seen it twice and I would not be against watching it again soon. Personally, I think it's better than a lot of movies that make it into the multiplexes, but the absence of any big name stars makes it an undesirable choice for many theater owners just looking to put butts in the seats as opposed to showing something of quality. Perish the thought!
Jason Yee makes a fairly solid leading man here, he's a bad ass with a personal grudge and lots of mad fighting skills. This dude totally kicks ass! There's a couple of genuinely exciting sequences where he takes on multiple opponents and it's pretty violent stuff. Blood splatters and bones break as Jake fights his way towards the truth behind his friend's murder. It's some of the coolest fight choreography that I've seen since The Raid: Redemption earlier this year. From a technical standpoint, The Girl from the Naked Eye is a tremendous achievement and I'd like to tip my hat to the cinematographer (Max Da-Yung Wang) and the editors (Greg Babor and Richard Halsey), the movie is an amazing visual experience. Samantha Streets turns in a great performance as innocent Sandy, the only truly decent character in the movie. In one sweet moment, she demonstrates how to dance the Charleston while he watches and smiles from a park bench. All at once, we understand that he finds her innocence appealing and refreshing, especially amidst all the nasty ugliness of the criminal underworld. It's Sandy that makes him soften his hardened image and allows him to care about somebody other than number one. In the context of neo-noir, that could prove to be his undoing. Dominique Swain (Lolita, Alpha Dog) briefly shows up as a prostitute who gives Jake some helpful tips about solving mysteries (after all, she did read all the Nancy Drew books as a preteen). The Girl from the Naked Eye also features a jazz/rock score that perfectly augments the tone of the movie, I especially liked the song played over the closing credits ("Release All Light" by De La Mancha), it's a perfect way to end the story as it evokes the feeling of an endless night. Here's the bottom line .... this is a good solid three-star flick! Lots of action, lots of blood and violence and lots of atmosphere! It's cinematic pulp fiction at its best, a true guilty pleasure!