Asian comedies can sometimes lose much of their humour in translation, often struggling to find a Western market. I remember watching the Japanese comedy Ping Pong, which is a lowbrow American Pie imitation until about halfway through when it suddenly changed into a serious drama It was a very bizarre experience. However, when it’s done right, as demonstrated with the brilliant My Sassy Girl, it can really work.
Before he takes over the family Sake factory, Naoto (Gaku Hamada) decides to travel to America to find the girl he fell in love with whilst she was teaching in Japan last year, Olivia (Jenn Liu). Only having her address and a basic grasp of English to go on, his wannabe internet star cousin Sebastian (Eugene Kim) is corralled into helping him find her. Unfortunately, Sebastian is hung-up on Asian stereotypes and generally a bit of a jerk, but he meets Joslyn (Marlane Barnes) who brings out another side in him. However, as the pair get nearer to their goal of locating Olivia, it seems that both Naoto and Sebastian are unlikely to find happy endings.
Sake Bomb is an odd film. At times it threatens to descend into an American gross-out teen comedy, but at others it is surprisingly tender and deep. It’s an odd concept: A Japanese film set in America which is mainly in English, but much of the film deals with Asian stereotypes and stereotypes in general, so it kind of fits. Oddly, it left me feeling quite upbeat, and whilst it’s not in any way, shape or form revolutionary cinema, it’s certainly entertaining enough. There’s also one of the strangest extras you’re likely to find on a DVD!
Sake Bomb is released on DVD by Third Window Films and is out on August 25.