Sake-Bomb (NR)

Drama 83
By Alan Scherstuhl
As a description of the film, Sake-Bomb's title is half-accurate. A dismal road trip saga about cultural stereotypes that itself is rife with clichés, Junya Sakino's tale concerns Sebastian (Eugene Kim), an L.A.-based Japanese-American who rants and rails in online videos about the many misconceptions (meek, asexual, small penises) Yanks have about Asians. Sebastian's rage is rooted in insecurity, a fact exposed once he's forced by his father to help visiting cousin Naoto (Gaku Hamada) -- a naïve Japanese country bumpkin who runs a sake business -- locate a former lover in Petaluma who mysteriously disappeared years earlier. What ensues is a series of encounters at parties where obnoxious Sebastian offends everyone in the vicinity and Naoto is embraced as a lovable (and desirable) foreigner. Those incidents are sabotaged by equally flat direction and performances, as well as an adherence to a torpid dramatic formula in which Sebastian, after pointing out everyone else's bigoted flaws, slowly attains awareness of his own failings. Sebastian's constant blathering about perceived insults feels less like the film's insightful attempt to confront prejudice than simply a way of making itself edgier, while its lethargic action -- including a shrugged-shoulder ambiguous finale --makes the entire enterprise come off as so much dull indie doodling.
Junya Sakino Gaku Hamada, Eugene Kim, Marlane Barnes, Josh Brodis, Chrissie Fit, Samantha Quan, Hiroyuki Watanabe Jeff Mizushima


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