In an 18-month span that has included the release of two superb action movies (The Raid: Redemption and Sleepless Night) and one and a half better-than-average ones (Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol and Haywire), it’s stupefying that so unimaginative and tension-deprived an aggro-thon as David Ren’s The Girl From the Naked Eye would get even a modest release. Taking a cue from scads of would-be Tarantinos with more enthusiasm than narrative command, Ren methodically alternates between bland, snarly exposition and competent but repetitive martial arts set pieces in this story of a flunky (Bruce Lee scowl-alike and co-screenwriter Jason Yee) for the titular strip club who’s out to avenge the death of his offed prostitute girlfriend (Samantha Streets). Erstwhile Lolitas Dominique Swain and Sasha Grey add little in inexplicable cameos. Anyone who can pull off a halfway-coherent action movie on a sub-straight-to-video budget deserves some credit, and Ren is at least savvy enough to make Naked Eye’s pulp inspirations plain, though the opening zoom into the flipping pages of a dime novel is unforgivable. But there are dozens of better, riskier, more interesting films that go unreleased every year—why this militantly dull effort is taking their place is its only worthwhile mystery.
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