SXSW Review: Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry

March 13, 2008

Not only did I already want to see this but my wife actually threatened to kill me if I didn't. Although I don't have any tattoos myself, I married someone that has a deep appreciation and respect for the art. Because of that I have learned a lot about the history and world of tattooing and otherwise might not have seen Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry. This is defiantly one documentary that I'm glad I didn't miss.

Director Erich Weiss spent two years traveling, doing interviews, and gathering information on the life of Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins. Considered the pioneer of modern day tattooing Sailor Jerry is its most recognizable face. Not only is Weiss able to give us a glimpse into Sailor Jerry's life and character but also shows us a clear picture of how World War II influenced his life and work while living in Hawaii.

The majority of the film is spent doing interviews with famous tattoo artists who knew Sailor Jerry personally. Artists like Michael Malone, Zeke Owen and Don Ed Hardy, who I actually met at the screening, were all able to talk about Sailor Jerry and their stories during the time that they new him.

What made this film great were the amazing personalities that each of the men interviewed had. Not only did I feel like I got a true sense of who Sailor Jerry was but I also got to know these other artists and was able to connect with them. Between interviews and history lessons director Weiss added quotes from correspondences that Hardy had had with Sailor Jerry. These quotes were typed out on screen and narrated which I thought added to the overall experience of the documentary.

Besides the sexual references dealing mostly with prostitution in Hawaii during World War II, I would recommend this film to just about anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think anyone, regardless of having tattoos, would find it very interesting and enjoyable. Another must see documentary from SXSW.

Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry

Find more posts: Movie Reviews, SXSW 08



I should have mentioned this earlier, but I am JEA...LOUS I haven't gotten to see this yet. I have so much Sailor Jerry swag, and drink more Sailor Jerry rum than I'd like to admit. The guy is just genius! Stewed, Screwed and Tattooed!!!

kevin powers on Mar 14, 2008


Kevin - YES! This was one of my favorite films as SXSW. His rum is my wife's absolute favorite and we purchase a bottle of it often. Check this documentary out if you ever get the chance!

Ken Evans on Mar 14, 2008


lol.. what are you trying to say? that i'm a Drunk? BAD Ken!

megan on Mar 15, 2008


Wow! I hadn't heard of this! I love Sailor Jerry's. The style and the rum is amazing. Usually ends up with me waking up the next morning with no recollection how I got there but I always end up picking up a bottle.

Bridget on Mar 26, 2008


you freakin dumbasses the rum and the rest of that crap is MARKETING jerry has been dead since 1973 and he sure as shit didnt make rum asshats

dave on Aug 19, 2008


lol wow who cares what he didn't make the fact that it brings a light onto tattooing that wasn't ever here before means more... people come into tattoo shops now for art work not what some scratcher can do in his bedroom... thank marketing without it most of us would be starving...

gutters on Dec 28, 2008


you can pre order a copy of the DVD now from whoop whoop it's the season to be jolly! Excited that is!! hoorah!

Paige on Sep 17, 2009


well, as usual the truth is stranger, and more interesting, not to mention "accurate" than the real world of norman keith collins /sailor jerry. I was asked by some one at the tip top of the list to do a few audience talks before the showing of the s.j.c. was cancelled by his majesty Ed Hardly, so i heard. i had made up my mind not to devulge any contradictions about the movie and i would just speak about it as it was..i was not so much as contacted about it any must be great to have so much cash, as to be able to pull that off...but now ill die without anyone knowing what really it does nothing for me at all one way or the other..i was dissapointed to see some of the things i mentioned were cut out,and used by mike maloney...but the truth will never be fact if you knew jerry thats the way he would have wanted the two behind it will never be able to really have the genuine credibility that was deserved for the tribute to jerry he really the u.s' marines say ..'get it right"... anyway i appreciated the chance to say a few things about jerry but a lot was left out.. which was the producers choice... but it is his movie not mine..but then again i was the only one to see jerry before he died and discuss his plans and live at his house and his planned move to the new hebrides islands and so on,,thank you all for your efforts in this tribute to a world war two veteran that is buried in a national cemetary. i really thank you for the chance to say good bye to a real American patriot. norman collins..sailor jerry...........zeke

zeke owen on Mar 2, 2010


zeke i have the time and patience to listen to your story...your last post sparked my curiosity and would love to hear it

bishop808 on Sep 23, 2010

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