Review: JISM 2 Shoots For The Heart, Lands In The Eyes. Oh, How It Burns!

Charlie Hobbs, Contributing Writer
The above image is about all you need to see of Jism 2. It is the perfect metaphor. The unfulfilled promise of Bollywood's biggest erotic thriller in years. It threatens, it teases, it never delivers. Oh, and it sucks.

Porn star Sunny Leone goes legit as, um, porn star Izna. Izna is recruited by the mysterious doe-eyed, big eared, ab-tastic Arunoday Singh as Ayaan to do some sexy reconaissance work for a sercret government agency attempting to track down an assassin. This bad man just happens to be Izna's old flame, Kabir, played by the equally hunky Randeep Hooda. When Izna and Ayaan move in next door to Kabir in order to lure him out of hiding, everything starts going haywire and not everyone is as they seem.

Let's just get this out of the way first, Jism 2 was never going to be a good film. It has way to many strikes against it right from the start. It stars Indo-Canadian porn star Sunny Leone who has really no mainstream film credits, it was written by Mahesh Bhatt who is among India's biggest schlock-meisters, and it is directed by his daughter, Pooja, who seems intent on joining the family business, no matter how inept she is. Bearing that in mind, the film fails on all expected levels, however, it manages to fail on even more levels than I anticipated, making itself stand out for its effort.

The acting in the film, apart from Randeep Hooda, is atrocious. Sunny Leone is, thankfully, not given much more to do than stand around in push-up bras with a worried look on her face. She learned some Hindi for the role, but ultimately her accent was unacceptable and they ended up dubbing her anyway. She gets a few monologues, but her role isn't very dialogue heavy, and she's better off for it. Arunoday Singh is equally flaccid on screen, he appears to have only two acting gears: smoldering and shouty, and he's not very good at either, but he looks good without his shirt on, so he has that going for him. Hooda manages to wring a decent performance out of a woefully underdeveloped character, in spite of a clunky script and perhaps the world's worst fake cello playing scene ever. This all leads to the film's raison d'etre, the super sexy love scenes...

Well, even with an actual porn star in the cast, they couldn't manage to make the sex scenes very sexy. There are only a couple of moments in the film where anyone gets busy, and even then it just seems awkward. Everyone looks really good semi-clothed, but no one seems comfortable at all, even Leone looks like she's out of her element. Pooja Bhatt was obviously aiming for the more sensual tone rather than raunchy, and there are a couple of occasions where it works out okay, but everything just seems too nice, and the passion that you expect from a film like this, fizzles.

As with nearly every Bollywood film, Jism 2 also suffers from a lack of editorial judgement. At two hours and twelve minutes, the film is at least forty minutes too long. This kind of film helped me transition from a boy to a man in the '90s, thanks to the loving embrace of Skinemax, but those films were able to actually deliver on their promise enough to leave their audience satisfied. Jism 2 doesn't, won't, or can't. Whatever the excuse, it adds up to failure.

For the morbidly curious, though, Jism 2 isn't a complete loss. The film's background score and music cues are awesome, hell even the ridiculous, over the top songs aren't half bad. What really made me smile about this film, though, was the heavy duty synth drops whenever the tension got high. There were some cues straight out of '90s HK action films or Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45, some seriously loud synth cues made me giggle, but in a good way. If you look at Jism 2 as a parody of the silly erotic thrillers that appeared late at night on pay cable, it's not half bad.

To be honest, I don't know what I really expected from this movie, but I'm not sure I expected to be as bored by it as I was. If they'd kept up the sex and trimmed some of the procedural stuff, maybe I'd have been more forgiving. There are a few very creepy moments in the that involve each of Izna's suitors examining/caressing her in her sleep that gave me chills, though I think they were meant to be sexy. Scenes like that undermine the truly passionate scenes between characters by reminding the audience that the man does only think of the woman as a body, or jism in Hindi, and just gave me the heebie jeebies.

I knew from the minute that news of this film appeared on the wire that I was going to have to review it at some point. I now consider my obligation to Jism 2 complete, and what a bad taste it has left in my mouth.


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