NOTE: This is a review of the original theatrical cut of Sin City and not the special “Recut, Unrated, Extended” edition which for some unknown reason is currently not available for rental. I usually review the longest version available, mainly because the fetish scenes are most likely longer or more abundant than in the theatrical versions edited to keep from getting the dreaded NC-17. But with assurance from friends that there was not much difference outfit-wise in the longer version I am going with the easier to find 2 hour version.
Frank Miller’s Sin City began as a series of serialized stories appearing under various Darkhorse Comic titles, and eventually reprinted together as a single graphic novel. These were various tales taking place in fictional Basin City that eventually intertwined as the series progressed. Between 1990 and 1993 Miller had been hired to write the scripts for the Robocop sequels, and became disillusioned with the film industry when both scripts were drastically altered by executives who dubbed them “unfilmable”. Vowing never to allow any of his comics to be made into movies where executives would end up having the stories rewritten to fit their tastes, he balked at an offer by Robert Rodriguez to make an adaption of his Sin City comics. Rodriguez changed his mind by filming a test movie based on a short Sin City story called The Customer is Always Right, and using the digital effects to wash out all but the colors needed for the scene ( such as a red dress and lipstick on the girl ). Rodriguez agreed to bring Miller onto the set to assure that the movie would be a faithful adaption of the book, and even used him as an advisor who let the actors know what each characters motivation would be.
When the film was completed Rodriguez decided that Miller’s work warranted him a credit as co-director, even putting Miller’s name above his in the credits which would subsequently give him the clout to direct the adaption of The Spirit a few years later. Rodriguez chose to film the entire movie on a digital backlot, meaning that sets, backdrops, and nearly everything else would be added by computers long after the film was completed. The movie opens with the short test film Rodriguez shot, a brief story with a man at a party confronting a girl on a balcony that only lasts a couple of minutes. After the opening credits comes the second story featuring Bruce Willis as a police detective on his last night before retirement attempting to rescue a kidnapped girl from a killer pedophile who happens to be the son of a powerful senator. This is followed by another story featuring Mickey Rourke as a hulking thug with a disfigured face who wakes up to find the girl he had sex with the night before lying next to him murdered. Realizing that he has just been set up to take the blame for the murder and wanting to avenge the dead girl, he goes on a rampage, killing his way through police and thugs while trying to solve the murder. This is followed by a story where Clive Owen, a wanted killer who just had plastic surgery to change his face, becomes involved in a turf war between the prostitutes who run a neighborhood called Old Town and their former pimps who want to take the town back. And then it is back to the second half of the Bruce Willis story where years later he is searching for the young girl he saved in the first half of the story. I will not say anything more about the plots as it would involve spoilers. Entirely shot on a digital set Rodriguez takes advantage of the technology to create such special effects as characters jumping down from great heights, being blown across the street by exploding grenades, and being thrown out of car wrecks. It is also allows for plenty of digitally added blood, sometimes red, sometimes black, but usually white. That was Rodriguez’s initial reason for using the digital technology, to control the colors. Most of the film is void of color, only occasionally showing up as the color of eyes, the skin color of deformed characters and occasional hues usually through the car windows as it passes by police vehicles and neon signs. Each story is engrossing, and unlike other anthology films where you have one strong segment and two or more weaker segments, the entirety of the movie is equally strong. Perhaps the only example of a perfect adaption of a Graphic Novel.
Once again a reminder, this was a review of the 2 hour cut of the movie. Running times will be a lot different on the other versions. The reason that this movie is sought after by fetish fans is because of Jessica Alba in her leather chaps pole dancing costume where she is doing a dance with a lasso on a bar stage. The costume itself is best described as black leather chaps with white tassels running down both sides, black panties and black leather studded bra top. A continuity error has her suddenly wearing black leather arm warmers with white tassels. The outfit can be seen twice in the movie, first briefly at 18 minutes as part of the background to another story, then again at 1 hour 33 minutes. The scene only lasts about a minute, but at the least has Jessica gyrating on a stripper stage. The real outfit to look out for is worn by Rosario Dawson, a one piece steel mesh bathing suit but with an outer layer of leather straps, beginning at the feet with her high heel shoes where leather straps hold on the shoes and a black studded leather shin guard, just for the hell of it straps crisscrossing up her thighs, leather straps holding on a leather bikini bottom, and then crossing four way straps over her upper body in a formation similar to the British flag that goes around her breasts and connects her bikini bottoms to a black leather choker around her neck. The costume also includes black leather opera gloves and a studded black leather belt that runs around her waste. She is first seen briefly in the outfit at 31 minutes, and again at 55 minutes lasting to around 1hour 4 minutes where she adds a black leather jacket and black leather bikers cap to the outfit. Other prostitutes in the movie wear various leather and corsets mostly around 30 minutes and 53 minutes into the movie. One prostitute, played by Alexis Bledel, wears skin tight black leather pants and a black leather jacket over a grey top at 31 minutes, at 54 minutes where she is harassed by men in a car, and again starting at 1 hour 18 minutes. The late Brittany Murphy has a small role as a bar maid who at 18 minutes and again at 1 hour 33 minutes is wearing a black leather bikini top and a black stringy skirt barely covering a black leather bikini bottom. And Carla Gugino who spends most of her screen time in the nude puts on a black leather coat and nothing else at 26 minutes, if you don’t mind that the jacket just came off of Mickey Rourke’s character, and that Carla’s character just had her arm chewed off by a cannibal. Patricia Vonne, a singer who has had bit parts in most of Robert Rodriguez’s earlier films has a small part as one of the prostitutes. She can be seen with the other prostitutes wearing a leather Zorro outfit, but stands out at 1 hour 13 minutes changed into a black leather cowboy style outfit. Unfortunately Devon Aoki is the only prostitute not to wear leather.