Wedding martial-arts action to pulpy noir, “The Girl From the Naked Eye” gets one’s attention but doesn’t keep it, due to ill-cued flashbacks, groan-inducing dialogue and wooden performances. As a poorly recovering boozer indebted to a pimp while trying to solve the murder of a 16-year-old whore, newcomer Jason Yee proves plenty adept at chopsocky, but his chops are nonexistent on the thesping side. Cameo turns by Sasha Grey and Dominique Swain prove insufficient to elevate the camp quotient of a low-budget but vividly art-directed pic whose limited theatrical dates precede its DVD release by only six weeks.Familiar, hardboiled voiceovers from chain-smoking Jake (Yee) help establish that he loved young Sandy (Samantha Streets), a gold-hearted hooker and aspiring poet whose vocabulary includes “jingoistic.” Expletive-laden tough-guy banter wears out its welcome early, but fight choreography featuring the ultra-aerobatic Yee works reasonably well, and Suzanne Rattigan’s “Sin City”-style production design makes the most of obviously limited means. Hi-def cinematography appears to have been heavily tweaked, to the extent that much of the pic looks animated. Editing is unimaginative, though at 84 minutes, the brief running time is a blessing.
An Archstone Entertainment release of a Lifted, Mu-Yee production, in association with Bentlight Digital. Produced by Ron Yuan, Jason Yee. Executive producer, Henry Mu. Co-producer, Max Yoffe. Directed by David Ren. Screenplay, Larry Madill, Jason Yee, Ren.
Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Max Da-Yung Wang; editor, Greg Babor; music, Danny Manor; music supervisor, Chris Robertson; production designer, Suzanne Rattigan; costume designer, Hazel Yuan. Reviewed on Blu-ray, Minneapolis, June 13, 2012. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 84 MIN.
Samantha Streets, Ron Yuan, Dominique Swain, Gary Stretch, Jason Yee, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jerry Ying, Chris Ufland, Assaf Cohen, Pete Antico, Sasha Grey, Lateef Crowder.