Review: A one-man revolution rises up in ‘Sake Bomb’


In “Sake Bomb,” twentysomething video blogger Sebastian (Eugene Kim) has a problem few film characters ever face: a sense of relentless, righteous rage for which there is no simple solution. For Sebastian, life as an Asian American male is one of perpetual defense against silent accusations of foreignness, meek quietness and — the one that really stings — small genitalia.

To disabuse the world (or at least his 10 subscribers) of such stereotypes, he bleats the concepts of Asian American Studies 101 over the Internet. In person, he’s even more unpleasant, indicting any Asian woman with a white partner as a self-loathing racist, a charge he doesn’t really believe.

The blustering didacticism of the first scenes gives way to a thoughtful and moving road-trip dramedy when Sebastian’s cousin, sake maker Naoto (Gaku Hamada), arrives from Japan to search for a former lover. Thus Sebastian and Naoto set out for Petaluma from L.A., with Sebastian fuming over everything from anime-cosplayers and racist cops to the truth about why Naoto’s ex disappeared without saying goodbye.


Director Junya Sakino’s debut would have been stronger if the comic barbs in Jeff Mizushima’s script hadn’t been dulled by Mizushima’s editing, which bungles the timing of the jokes. But the writer and Kim deserve recognition for bringing to life Sebastian’s “yuppie Asian Malcolm X complex,” a subject as honest as anything in the movies this year.


‘Sake Bomb’

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles