The independent movie “Sake-Bomb” begins with sake. Sake is, of course, a Japanese rice wine and is certainly more traditional than your Kirin Beer. “Sake-Bomb” attempts to address some Asian American issues, but despite the ranting, turns into little more than a mediocre road trip movie with the mismatched pair being an FOB Japanese national named Naoto and his Japanese American cousin, Sebastian.
A sake-bomb is when you put sake in beer. Beer is not exactly all-American, but it is American enough. The two cousins are a Japanese national named Naoto (Gaku Hamada) and his Japanese American cousin, Sebastian (Eugene Kim).
I don’ t know much about sake since I don’t drink alcohol. It is made of rice and the movie opens in Japan with men with their arms elbow deep in piles of white rice. They are processing the rice into sake. There’s a mix of the old and the new. Wood and metal. The old man in semi-traditional dress. Naoto is dressed in a uniform and will be taking over the company. Before he takes over the company, he’s told to take time off to do something he’s always wanted to do. He wants to meet his American ex-girlfriend one more time.
Although Japanese culture may be older than American culture, beer might be the first fermented beverage in the world and it is, according to Wikipedia, the third most widely consumed drink after water and tea and the most popular alcoholic beverage. Beer is part of American culture just like apple pie so perhaps Sebastian is the beer.
We learn he’s an angry Asian guy. He has a vlog called “FOB MotherF**ker” and we see he rails against stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans. But he’s also a loser. He was living with his girlfriend who at the beginning of the movie kicks him out when she finds him at home watching pornography, “Yellow Curry on White Rice.”
Naoto lands in California where Sebastian is now living with his single father. Sebastian’s father forces Sebastian to take Naoto on the road trip to Petaluma. Sebastian’s first stop is a party in Irvine. What’s in Irvine? Sebastian’s ex-girlfriend happens to be at a party and Sebastian gets confrontational in an ugly, awkward way. While Sebastian is busy uncharming the ladies, Naoto gets introduced to the sake-bomb.
If you think you Naoto is going to get falling down drunk, you don’t know Japan.
At the party, Sebastian continues to be rude and confrontational and gets a fist in the face for his troubles. That takes us out of the party and finds us already on the road. Naoto is riding shotgun and Michael (Josh Brodis), the gay guy friend of Sebastian’s ex-girlfriend, is driving. Twelve hours have passed with Sebastian slobbering on the back seat. Michael takes them to San Francisco where Naoto and Sebastian are guests at another party, for Cosplayers.
I’m hoping you have parties that are more fun than these, where people aren’t getting falling down drunk, annoying their ex-girlfriends or barfing.
Naoto is more clueless than necessary. He has a bad haircut (wig?). He’s the kind of fresh off the boat guy who is probably out of place in his own culture as well. Naoto doesn’t know about vlogs although he comes from a land where technology is almost a religion (Yes, please! Sign me up for a yearly tour to Akihabara).
While this Jeff Mizushima’s script hits some important points, but not in a particularly interesting way and under the direction of Junya Sakino, the humor falls flat and the tone is uneven. “Sake-Bomb”doesn’t explode stereotypes, but bombs miserably. “Sake-Bomb” is not a good mix for any party, Asian, Asian American, gay or straight.