In many ways a spiritual successor to 'Reservoir Dogs', Kern Saxton's 'Sushi Girl' is a cult classic in the making, packed with unpredictable twists and a memorably demented turn from Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.
A gritty and often confronting indie thriller, it tells the tale of Fish (Noah Hathaway), who's just been released after six years on the inside. In all that time, he kept quiet about the other four men involved in the robbery that sent him to prison, and they decide to reward him with an unusual celebratory dinner - a lavish array of sushi served off the naked body of a catatonic young woman. It makes for compelling viewing, but you have to imagine it was a distracting set-up for the actors.
“After a while, it just becomes part of the gig,” laughs James Duval ('The Doom Generation', 'Donnie Darko'), who plays one of the film's depraved lead characters. “But we're really eating sushi off her at times in the film. We had a sushi chef on set, and when we were doing our close-ups, he would replace the prop sushi with real sushi. So that was a significant advantage of working on this film; we got paid to eat sushi off Cortney Palm.”
Duval joins a murderers row of recognisable faces in 'Sushi Girl', including Hathaway ('The NeverEnding Story'), Tony Todd ('Candyman'), Sonny Chiba ('The Street Fighter'), Michael Biehn ('The Terminator'), Jeff Fahey ('Grindhouse'), and Danny Trejo ('Machete'). But the most recognisable face in the cast belongs to Mark Hamill ('Star Wars', obviously), who spits in the face of typecasting as the insane Crow.
“After watching the film [the final scene], we all kind of looked at each other and said, 'okay, yeah, I think he just murdered Luke Skywalker',” Duval remembers. “I'm not gonna lie, it was amazing to be on the set to watch that happen, and realise that was happening. For 30 years, maybe people thought of him as Luke Skywalker, but no more.
“I grew up with 'Star Wars', that's my generation, and I saw all three films in the theatre. He had an enormous impact on me. So even as a child, I watched 'Corvette Summer', I watched 'The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia', I watched his career from then on. Including the stage work he had done, actually. I was too young to go watch it at the time, but when he was doing Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, I was following his career. So it was an extra special treat to be working with him, in that sense.”
It's ironic, then, that after finally 'murdering' Luke Skywalker, Hamill is lining up to play him again for the first time in over 30 years in the next 'Star Wars' film. “Isn't it funny how things work?” Duval laughs. “I think sometimes you need to kill things before they can be reborn. He can absolutely go back.”
Duval is currently preparing to revisit an old role of his own in 'Punk's Dead', the forthcoming sequel to 1998's 'SLC Punk!' He's taking some time out from that preparation, though, to appear at the Gold Coast Film Festival and Supanova Pop Culture Expo with the rest of the 'Sushi Girl' cast and crew.
“When I first met my booking agent years ago, he asked me to give him a call when I could do these shows. I always thought it was kind of a weird thing for me to do, because I thought, 'nobody wants to talk to me'... you know, I'm not a movie star, I'm an actor. Over the years, he kept running into me, and he'd say, 'you should call me, people want to meet you, they want to talk to you, and you'd get to meet all the other people on the circuit'.
“That's when I realised it would be a win-win thing - I could meet people who actually liked and admired what I did, but I could also be that person who's excited to see the other people there, and that's okay! That entire scene is so open and fan-friendly. I can definitely tell you, had I not been going to these shows as an actor promoting his work, I would definitely be there as a fan, just because I love all the people there.”
The Gold Coast Film Festival, in collaboration with The Supanova Pop Culture Expo, will host The Australian Premiere Of ‘Sushi Girl’ At Pacific Fair On Friday April 19.