Sandy (Samantha Streets), who happens to be ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye’ which is this film’s title and the club she procures from, is dead. This makes Jake (Jason Yee) very sad. Jake was the guy that was hired to drive her around to her various hooker gigs and eventually became her… gee… big brother / boyfriend? I know that sounds icky but that’s kind of how their relationship developed. Jake might not have been able to save Sandy, but he sure as hell can avenge her so let the noir rush in.
First order of business, meet with some tough talking cops. Damn if they don’t think that Jake had something to do with killing that sweet little thing. Time to shake them and head on down to the Naked Eye and talk to club owner Simon (Ron Yuan). Simon is sympathetic to Jake’s pain, and being that dead prostitutes is bad for business he promises quick action, but his action isn’t quick enough to Jake’s liking.
But what was it about Sandy that drew Jake to her so closely? Through flashback we can she was a sweet kid, a vulnerable kid, a girl who was nowhere near the age of nineteen that she claimed to be and Jake felt a kinship to her, like her brother. Plus they had a lot in common, both damaged souls, with Jake and his gambling debts and drinking problems, and Sandy being a runaway teenaged prostitute. It looks like Sandy wasn’t looking for a brother, maybe a little more, but Jake being the honorable type wasn’t going for that, and if he had those feelings he kept them to himself.
Jake needs answers but to be honest with you Jake’s negotiation skills are pretty limited. So Jake bulls his way through this seedy little town, a city where the sun doesn’t ever seem to shine, and pummels, punches, kicks, jabs, stabs, shoots, and punches some more, be you friend or foe, to get the bottom of why Sandy had to die.
On Jake goes, deeper into the rabbit hole, beating people near to death on his descent down that hole while searching for his answer. He won’t like the answer. But then could there ever be a satisfying answer as to why a sixteen year old prostitute got murdered? Probably not.
We enjoyed director Dave Ren’s film ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye’, despite the fact it doesn’t succeed all that well as quality noir, but it does do a much better job of catering to the most basic of my movie needs, this being that it has good ass kicking action and a fair share of gratuitous nudity.
As far as the noir part of ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye’ goes, not a lot felt like it fit right, and this is a very familiar kind of genre, like a Western for example, where if something doesn’t feel right, even if the audience member doesn’t know what that something is, it’s not going to come off right. Take star Jason Yee for example. To get sidetracked a bit, Mr. Yee received ‘… and introducing’ in the opening credits but we’ve already been introduced to Jason Yee since we… and apparently not too many others…. have seen ‘Dark Assassin’ a few years back. But back on point, while we here at the FCU are of the firm belief that Jason Yee is a potential action star whose time in the limelight is long overdue, he’s still not all that great of an actor. The character he’s playing is damaged, he’s seen too many things and been through too much and we need to be sold on this character in the spirit of this, and not just because he’s told us these things. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Jason Yee is a good looking guy… pause… who looks a lot younger than his actual age and as such doesn’t look like he’s been through half of the things that we know his character has had to have been through. The whole exercise kind of hinges on us believing in his character. Samantha Streets suffers from the same problem as well, being a little too adorable for the character she’s playing, but it doesn’t affect her character nearly as much. Partly because she’s a good young actress, and also because they wrote her character as very young so she can get away with this a little bit more. Combined with a narrative that was a little uneven in desperate need of a bit of focus here and there, we can see why the ingredients didn’t blend together to create the perfect noir mix.
But even though the ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye’ didn’t turn out to be the hardboiled noir thriller than I think it wanted to be, it was still a pretty darned good action movie. Jason Yee might not be the second coming of Humphrey Bogart, but he’d wear Bogart out in a fistfight. Plus he does have a natural charisma about him which is why, in addition to his martial arts skills, that he’d be on the short list of headliners if I was a filmmaker making an action movie. Ron Yuan’s fight choreography was stellar, particularly a lengthy brutal closing fight sequence that had tinges of ‘Old Boy’ connected to it which we will call an homage, not a rip off here at the FCU, and the we did enjoy the look, atmosphere and pacing of the film. In fact if Ren and company had shuttered the noir and narration angle and shot a straight revenge action thriller, then almost none of those reservations we expressed earlier would even apply.
Regardless, we did appreciate the effort and we have to give ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye’ some style points. It was a flawed film, to be sure, but an entertaining one, to be sure as well.