Our nameless heroine, a young, aspiring Asian-American actress (played by Darling Narita), is having a bad day. First her landlord, crusty and callous, kicks her out of her apartment because of past-due rent. Then a producer and potential employer, pudgy and perverse, tries to pin her to the casting couch and, failing that, brutally expels her from his bungalow. Then a motorcycle cop, leering and lecherous, tries to rape her. And it isn't even noon yet.

Bang is a low-budget concoction by a writer-director who goes by the name of Ash. As a director, he or she evinces a lot of hand-held energy, but as a screenwriter Ash is a bust. The film's opening sequence, described above, is ludicrous both in concept and as it is played out. That power corrupts is, these days, a given, but to have Narita encounter so much authoritative depravity in such a short period of time is just bad plotting.

It's also just the movie's set-up. Narita manages not only to escape the psycho-cop's grubby clutches, but to handcuff him to a tree and steal his motorbike. Thus disguised, she sets out for a series of encounters with that flipside of the bogeyman establishment, the essentially lovable disenfranchised. The movie's nadir is reached when a gun-toting crack dealer starts to lecture the faux-cop on the injustice of his victim status, before crumbling into tears of remorse and Narita's tentative embrace. All the poor guy needs, apparently, is a good cuddle.

The writing in this sequence, as elsewhere in the film, is excruciatingly awkward. A better passage involves Narita running out of gas and hitching a ride, still in full cop regalia, with two spaced-out Chicano gang members. This part, at least, is intentionally funny, though it's capped by some ham-fisted pathos.

Narita doesn't make much of an impression as an actress, possibly because her character is more of a plot device than a human being. On the other hand, Peter Greene, so memorable as Zed in Pulp Fiction, does a fine job as a dangerously unbalanced homeless man who prances around the plot like a demented Puck -- this guy is acting his ass off. Too bad the movie isn't worthy of his strenuous efforts.

Richard C. Walls writes about the arts for the Metro Times. E-mail him at [email protected].

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