Despite not being a fan of "raw" sushi, (or sashimi as it's properly referred to) the concept, specifically the history and reverence for the food has always intrigued me. If I had perhaps done the tiniest amount of research into the true content and intent of the documentary, "Sushi: The Global Catch," my viewing experience would have been a more balanced and possibly more open-minded one. That said, the 75-minute runtime of said film, is less about the pageantry of sushi and more insight into the widespread effect on the environment it has, before semi-devolving into a thinly veiled soapbox for the sustainability movement. This isn't by any means a bad thing, but does leave viewers with a very inconsistent documentary offering.
Director Mark Hall does a tremendous job of drawing in a casual viewer, one likely to come across this on Netflix, into the traditional world of sushi, covering the history of the food before focusing on a top Japanese sushi chef and the path required to reach such a status. From there, Hall shifts to the source of chef's supply, a giant fish market in Tokyo that boasts record setting prices for bluefin tuna, which the audience quickly learns is being fished to near extinction to satisfy the exponentially increasing appetites of sushi connoisseurs worldwide, including China, which has recently undergone its own sushi craze. It's at this critical revelation, the exact heart and soul of the documentary in fact, that the film begins to slightly unravel at the seams.
The remainder of the feature never truly gives the viewer a chance to let much apart from the dwindling numbers of bluefin to soak in, jumping all across the globe from traditional sushi-masters to a San Francisco based restaurant that only uses sustainable fish, back to a man who strives to perfect a way to breed the tuna in captivity. Hall presents very fascinating information but the runtime isn't nearly enough to convey the scope of the issue and by the time we get to two ideologically opposite restaurant owners discussing sustainability, its easy to incorrectly write the film off as a lightweight agenda piece.
"Sushi: The Global Catch" succeeds in conveying how destructive a luxury food item has become to the planet and the irony of what was once a quick, nearly fast food-esque origin of the meal now resulting in record setting auction prices for the most essential components of the meal is not lost. I doubt I'll ever change my own personal reasons for not eating sashimi, but if that day were to ever come, I'd think long and hard about my own choices, knowing what widespread consequences it could have, even if this film itself left me a little unclear in what the future holds.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer sports adequate, natural colors, with wholly average detail. There are some minor instances of compression artifacts and depending on the location where the footage was shot, some instances of minor digital noise/grain.
The Dolby Digital English and Japanese stereo audio track is perfectly suitable for the documentary format. The soundscape does show a decent amount of depth during scenes filmed in the expansive, concrete enclosed fish market. Non-removable English subtitles are included.
The only extras are a theatrical trailer and image gallery.
A competently handled, tonally shaky documentary piece, "Sushi: The Global Catch" is a little too far-reaching in its efforts, but manages to drive home its most important points relatively well. Either way, it's an eye-opening, brief look for connoisseurs and non-connoisseurs alike. Recommended.