"But I'm researching a role!"
Dustin Hoffman's early career problems.
Those responsible for financing and distributing Meir Zarchi's Don't Mess with My Sister! were probably desperate: Zarchi, responsible for the horrifying (and extraordinarily popular) rape-revenge flick I Spit On Your Grave, did not repeat such grueling visual torture in this film. Instead, he produced a tepid marital drama about a nebbish from New Jersey with a degree in accounting who finds new passion in the arms of a belly dancer.
Faced with this film, when they surely must have been expecting something more along the lines of Spit, the film's distributors did the only thing they could: they packaged the movie as a horror flick and sold it to as many unsuspecting video retailers as possible. The box art features a man with a shotgun -- threatening the accountant who has messed with his sister, perhaps? Nope, it turns out he is the accountant. The copy on the back of the box uses words like "lust," "greed," and "passion," all of which are only vague plot elements -- well, except for lust. That, at least, is the force that occasionally nudges the story forward to the end credits; sadly, we can't say that this tale has a conclusion.
Angela smiled as she learned
a few new moves to show
the girls back at the nursing home.
Our accountant friend is Steven, who is finishing up his last days of accounting school, which has been paid for by his brothers-in-law, Roberto and Dino. The two brothers also run a junkyard, for which Steven keeps the books. Ever hopeful that he'll be made a partner of the junkyard business (the dream of many a New Jerseyan), Steve toils over the adding machine during the day and goes home to his wife, Clara, at night. It should be mentioned that all of these characters are stereotypical Jersey-Italians, so there are plenty of overbearing mamas, lecherous men, and gossipy women to lubricate the wheels of drama, not to mention liberal doses of Rocky Balboa-like speech.
One night after class and on his birthday, Steven shares a ride with a fellow student who is headed for his part of town. It turns out that she is a part-time professional belly dancer, who just happens to be giving a performance that night in his apartment building. What apartment? Why, his own, of course! Steve plays along with his wife's surprise party plans, and after many libations, the entire crowd enjoys the belly dancer's performance. Even Steven's mama gets in on the action, pulling her face out of her wine glass just long enough to put on a belly dance of her own. Don't quit the day job, Mama.
"I don't care what you saw in Showgirls, you're not getting any!"
The belly dancer, whose name is Anke, leaves behind a piece of her costume, and so with adultery on his mind, Steve returns it to her and offers her another ride. This time she's headed to a "private performance" with a previous client, and when the customer gets grabby, Steve bursts into the house to beat the guy up. Unfortunately, while this particular patron of the arts is a flabby middle-aged house slug, he is more than a match for Steve. When Steve inevitably ends up on the wrong end of the fight, Anke wraps things up by bashing the guy over the head with a wine bottle.
Overcome with stupidity, the two naturally fall into each other's arms and consummate their relationship, proving that there's nothing like a little bit of armed assault to spice up your sex life. Unfortunately, one of Clara's cronies saw Anke get into Steven's car back on campus, and word travels fast along the grapevine. By the time Steve gets to work the next day, his brothers are alerted to his infidelity and are on hand to provide the proper marital counseling.
Curious George Has An Operation.
Despite his new internal injuries, Steve still doesn't get it. Rather than put distance between Anke and himself, he engages her in another conversation about the client they brutalized, who has died in the hospital. Anke is about to blow town when Clara and her brothers show up at Anke's apartment, having followed Steve from campus. They engage in a bit of petty vandalism by roughing up Anke's home.
Steve pops his top, heads to the junkyard, and sets fire to his own car in retaliation. No, that doesn't make much sense, but Steve isn't the shiniest penny in the piggybank. Then Steve steals the junkyard's shotgun and begins hunting down his in-laws (we think only one of them is even shot, but we're not sure) before running off into the night, pursued by a plaintively wailing Clara. The End.
No, we're not kidding. That's the end of the film, and we're as confused as you must be. Not only does the film not have a proper ending, but the title makes absolutely no sense. Sure, the brothers knock Steve around a little bit, but it's choreographed and supervised by Clara, so she can speak for herself. And after the initial bout of roughing up, the brothers actually stick up for Steven, asking Clara to take him back! The only appropriate word in the title is "mess," because it aptly describes the plot.
In addition, Anke's character is ridiculously well-developed, considering that the rest of her life has almost no bearing on the infidelity plot. What does the murder of the businessman have to with anything? And do we really care that Anke has a daughter in Africa, or that she danced with Masai tribesmen, other than the fact that it leads to a bit where Anke hops up and down like she's auditioning for a part in a whack-a-mole game?
Far be it from us to make snap judgments about people based on their films (ha!), but if we had to guess, we'd probably say that some glue-sniffing was going on in the screenwriter's vicinity, and either Zarchi was contractually obligated to make the film word for word, or he was sharing the tube with the writer. Thank goodness there won't be a sequel to this film: they'd have to call it Seriously, I Mean it This Time: Don't Mess with My Sister, Okay?