As far as action films go, Girl from the Naked Eye is the perfect example of the B movie. It's produced on a low budget, but still has well executed action, good performances and decent characterization, though it isn't as polished and spot on as a bigger budget production would be.
Jason Yee stars as Jake, a troubled man who is working as a driver for an escort service to pay off a gambling debt. He's working for Simon (Ron Yuan), who owns the Naked Eye club of the title, and the girl is Sandy (Samantha Streets), an underage runaway who Simon has talked into working for him as a call girl.
The film opens with Jake cradling the murdered Sandy in his arms, and the story, told with generous flashbacks, follows him as he tracks down her killer. His quest for vengeance is stymied for a time by Simon, who doesn't want to give up his client book, and by the police who don't exactly believe that Jake was just stopping by Sandy's house for a random visit when he found her body. Jake ends up taking the client book by force, thus alienating all of Simon's other thugs, particularly Johnny (Jerry Ying), whose already sour opinion of Jake only worsens. Things get even more complicated when corrupt police lieutenant Frank (Gary Stretch) decides that he has to eliminate Jake before his own crimes can be revealed.
Throughout the film, there are a number of flashbacks that let the viewer in on Jake and Sandy's relationship, which starts out as merely professional, if a bit contemptuous, and grows into a deep affection between them, and is only prevented from becoming more when Jake discovers that Sandy is significantly younger than she claims to be. Often, heavy use of flashback is distracting or clumsy, but not here. Interspersed as they are between the more action oriented scenes, they flow naturally, and give a good insight into these two pivotal characters.
Technically, the film looks pretty good. The visuals are a bit stylized, on the noir-ish end, but the sets and practical locations remain gritty and solid enough that we retain a sense that all of this is really happening. The fight scenes are well orchestrated, and it is clear that all of the participants have a high degree of skill. Since this is an area that a lot of low budget actioners often fall flat in, the quality of the action makes The Girl from the Naked Eye stand out. The only criticism here would be for the lower quality CG blood splatter effects, and what appear to be some CG enhancements of muzzle flares. Why use CG when practical effects are so easy and cheap?
The performances are all pretty good, particularly Samantha Streets as Sandy. Jason Yee is a bit wooden, but his character seems to be wooden and emotionless, so perhaps this is intentional. Regardless, he's good enough that he doesn't drag down the film, and with this kind of fare, that's what audiences are interested in. There is one complaint to be made about the cast, in regards to a little bit of bait and switch. Both Sasha Grey and Dominique Swain are credited on the DVD cover, as well as being featured in the cover art, while neither makes much of a contribution to the film, while Samantha Streets, who does have a major role, is missing. Admittedly, Swain is in two scenes, and gives Jake some important inspiration, but Grey has only a few lines in an elevator, and really adds nothing to the film but her name. So, if you were intending to check out the film for those two, you will be disappointed. Fortunately, there's plenty to like without them.
While there are areas that once could be critical of the film, The Girl from the Naked Eye is entertaining enough, and the flaws minor enough, that they don't really matter. The better than expected mayhem, script and performances let us enjoy without taxing us too much, while still remaining intelligent enough that we don't become bored. Recommended.
The video is 2.35:1 widescreen, and generally looks good. The look is a tad stylized, with rich colors and deep shadows, very reminiscent of noir films. There is a bit of grain from time to time, but light enough to not be distracting.
Audio tracks are available in both Dolby digital 5.1 and 2 channel. Both sound good, and are devoid of any obvious problems, though the sound is not called on to perform any too great tasks. Subtitles are included for English and Spanish, but no alternate language tracks.
The only extra included is a trailer, which is decent, but unfortunately reveals the answer to the central mystery of the film. So, if you don't want to know who killed Sandy from the start, skip the trailer until you've watched the movie.
Girl from the Naked Eye is a more intelligent than average action film, but it's plenty enough martial arts action and gun battles to satisfy. The story is as engaging as it has to be, as are the performances, and there are even a few fresh and empathetic characters. This isn't high art, but it is an hour and a half of enjoyable kicking and punching that doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence. These days, that's a treat.