The Tattooist (2007) - full transcript

American tattoo artist Jake Sawyer wanders the world, exploring and exploiting ethnic themes in his tattoo designs. At a tattoo expo in Singapore, he gets his first glimpse at the exotic world of traditional Samoan tattoo (tatau), and, in a thoughtless act, unwittingly unleashes a powerful angry spirit. In his devastating journey into Pacific mysticism, Jake must find a way to save his new love, Sina and recover his own soul.

The Samoan people believe
tattooing is a gift from the Gods.

He who misuses this gift brings shame
upon himself and his family.

In Samoan culture, to live in shame
is a fate worse than death.


I know you are down here.


Oh my boy...

What have you done?

It is a pentagram.

I know what it is...

...Is the Devil's mark.

No Dad.

- You shame me.
- No.

Pray with me.

Our Father who are in the heaven...

Hallowed be thy name... say it!

Thy kingdom come,
you will be done

On Earth as it is in Heaven
give us this day our daily bread.

and forgive us our sins as we forgive
those who sinned against us.

And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.

For thyne is the kingdom, the power
and the glory for ever and ever.



I'm Edward Lim.

So where do you want to do this?

My son is this way.

Your son?

You never said anything about a kid.

The monks refused to mark him.. I found you.

He needs a doctor.

He needs a tattoo.

Your price.

He asks if it will work.

You tell him it will.

"Tattoos that cure you?"

Where is this from again?


Are you sure about that?

The Dayak tribe use it to cure arthritis.

You'll be playing guitar again
before you'll know it.

So, what kind of arthritis this
Dayak tribe suffers from?

Swollen joints.. I don't know.

'Cause you know if it's some kind of
tropical thing and not like a western arthritis...

You want to heal your wrist or don't?

Because you were 20 minutes
later than on my schedule.

Sorry, sorry.

Hi, can I get three lemon seltzer?

- Thanks.
- Thank you.

- Talofa.
- Hey.

This is from the south pacific, right?


Oh you live in Samoa..

Auckland, New Zealand.

Is this... is it supposed to have
any medical value?

You know, healing, protection?

Are you that guy?
You really believe in that bullshit?

People do.
A man has gotta make a living.

You get the Pe'a to honor the spirits
of your Tupuanga who wore it before you.

You get it to honor your father.
Well then, I guess it's not for everyone.

And they pay enough not to tell?

It changes you. You breath into it.
You accept it. And you learn from it.

You don't know what I am
talking about, do you?

He knows.

Actually I mistook him for some stores to do.
Step other stores sometimes.

Your tattoo failed!

Look, I am sorry man.

You told me it had power!
You lied to me! You lied!

You took my son!

Ain't you ashamed of
what you have done?


Shame on you!

Go, before I kill you!

You took my son.



It's Kure, some of us were born, really.

You know this place?


Fuck me! Look what the cat dragged in!

You've got some balls, I give you that.

Come' on, Crash, forgive and forget.


My first studio.

At Lamai-I he was.Then he steals a design off my wall,
tattooes on some dickhead in south central.

Next thing I know they wankin' each other off
over my designs on page 17 of Tattooist magazine.

Then, he trashes my Porsche, fucks my dog, steals my credit
card and he spends it up large at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Lingerie departments,

my mum's size.

Come here!

- How you doing?
- Fucking good, sunshine. Look at you eh?

Samoan? That narrows it down a bit.

Not that there's a lot of them.

No, they are all here. They are all into tattooing.
And this is the fucking heartland, isn't it?

Is the wellspring.

You know the word "tattoo"
was invented by the Samoans?

Or Figi, or some.. one of their lot. Anyway.
Someone at the expo I know there.

l couldn't find them on the net.

Listen, if it's just the design you want..

There was a girl with them.

- It is just a girl you want!
- No, I need to give her something back.

That would be a first.

Tell you what. You can work
for me in the studio,

but none of that bullshit healing crap.
You can stay in the apartment above.

I'll ask around. And I'll find your Samoans.
All right?

- Not blocking your light, am I?
- No, it's cool, we're doing cool.

- I am doing this for you. Hi pumpkin.
- That's my good boy.

- Io non sono buono, io sono il tuo cucciolo cattivo.
- Zitto bimbo cattivo, guarda che la gente capisce...

- Stop it! No! Ah, ah, no!
- Come here, come here.

- No, stop it. No, no! No, stop it! No!
- Come here, come here.. right.

Sorry, carry on when you are ready, mate.

Carry on, mate.

- McFadden.
- Excuse me?

McFadden, Lazlo, 3 o'clock.

Right, saw you, check.

I'll be your tattooer this afternoon.

Just as long as I can find
some room in there.

Well if you can't... just ask a couple
of the others to move over, eh?

All right.

I am Victoria.

So, Crash says you could be
the next victim.

Actually, I was last
year's next victim.

So which one of you guys?

Luke, my cousin.

Be gentle, he's only 20.

21, on Saturday.

So, is this gonna hurt?

Yes, it's supposed to.

The pain changes you.

You breath it in, you breath it out.

Think of it as losing your virginity.

Don't touch that.

It belongs to someone.

Sit back.

Use moisturiser every day, keep it out
of the sun and try not to get it wet.

Cool, thanks.

Now me.


So what you want?

Well, I am a Capricorn.

A goat?

Use moisturiser every day..

Yeah, yeah I know, I know.

Luke's having a pool party
Saturday night.

I guess I can get it wet by then.

Oi, Vic, fuck off.

I found your blokes.

Hey mister, do you see him?

Following you around?


Just 'cause you see no one,
doesn't mean no one's there.


Come on, you'll be late!

- Fa.
- Fa.


- I guess probably you don't remember me, but...
- Sure we do.

Every expo some white stranger
he wants to get down with the brown.

I am working here.

At Bedlam.

You're stealing his stuff too?

I was looking for your sister.

She's not my sister.

She is his cousin.

She is a church girl.
And she doesn't take foreigners.

She is not for you, brother.

So this is what you do when
you're not giving scalp massages.

There's 40 years of South
Auckland's stories in this room.

My uncle is trying to make sure
that they don't get lost.

So, I was just wondering if you
wanted to grab some coffee.

Oh, actually the timing isn't great.

I have got a ceremony to go to and... to collect.

I just need to talk to you.

You could give me a lift.

Someone lives here?

The Peraneces, they live in shame.



Mr. Peranece? it's Sina.

And who is him?

This is a visitor from America.

Jack, how you doing?

I was looking for the photos.

Get a good look, boy?!

Sorry, I was just...


Sorry... I didn't mean it.


Who said you could
touch that stuff?!

It fell over...

"Why you brought
this stranger to my house?"

I am sure that was an accident.
Look, I'll help.

Take your photos and go.


He keeps his Pe'a covered out of shame.
He lost a son.

You see, once you get a Pe'a you are
honour-bound to complete it.

Loumi couldn't face the pain so he ran
away and hasn't been heard of since.

It was this big shame on his family.

I liked him, he was about my age.

He's probably running a hair saloon
in Greenwich Village and perfectly happy with life.

I hope so.

Actually the ceremony that I'm going to
at my uncle's house,

is for my cousin, to celebrate
the completion of his Pe'a.

Well, only if you are interested.

Just not sure they'd want me.

Your cousin and those guys weren't
too keen on me sniffing around.

- Sniffing around eh?
- Not like that.

Well then you are welcome. I live
with my uncle, his house is my house.

I am inviting you.

I'm gonna accept.

They got their Pe'a together.

Designs are handed down
from father to son.

If you share the pain, you have it.

Now they are like brothers.

- I was an only child.
- Me too.

Have you got other family?

No, my parents died young.

Mine too.



Is a branch

Good luck

Wild animals


Growing up

Living and caring

By the end

This is it

So be it!

Now they are men.

- My uncle used to be a great Tufuga.
- Yeah?

Alie learned tattooing from him and
now he thinks he knows everything.

You should pay your respects.

I might... wait till he puts down
the big pointy thing.

Oh come on!

You've got horns tattooed on the back of your neck.
You are scared of an old man in a skirt?

You should have thought
better before bringing him here.

Uncle doesn't like him,
he is not welcome here...

Don't be a dick, Alie.


this is Jake Sawyer.
Jake, this is Mr. Va'a.

It's an honour to have
you in my house.

The pleasure is mine, truly.

Alapati says you're
here to steal our design?

That was kind of
a misunderstanding.


In the old days, everyone
in Samoa had the toll.

Then the missionaries came
with their concept of God.

For a while... they always faded.
But didn't last

Their church became Samoan.
Not the other way around.

I am not a missionary.

Look after our guest, Sina.

Till it's time for him to leave.

So, what do you wanna talk to me about?

Actually I got... kind of a.. confession.

There is an old tattooing tool of yours
that I... "borrowed" in Singapore.

It was stupid, I know, is...

You must think I am an idiot.

Yeah. I do.

But a complete idiot
wouldn't have told me.

I'll get it from my car.

Oh no don't do that, I'll come to you.

- Hey!
- What?

Aumai. [Give].



Go on!

Oh my.


- Aumai.
- Yes, very good.

- Oh shit, sorry!
- Sorry!

Crash gave me the key.

There's a bit of vodka left in the bottle.
Help you loosen up before we go.

Go where?

Luke's party, remember?

Like my new tattoo?

Yeah, it suits you.

Just play along OK?

Aunty Lucy, hello.

This is my new lover Jake, he's one
of the best tattooists in the world.

Oh, hey!

That's really not true.

Any of it, excuse me.

I need you, I want you get rid of it.

It doesn't work that way.

Hey Lukey! Come on, let's go!

Jake, where're you going?

Come on, it was a joke.

You can take a joke, can't you?

Don't turn up at my apartment again.


Damn it Crash!

Oh God!




No, it's Sina.

Is this a bad time?

No, it's a good time.

In fact it's a great time.



Are you OK?

Thank you.

Alipati doesn't use it,
but he'll be pleased to get it back.


.. be careful with it.

What's going on?

This is gonna sound kind of... weird, but..

I have been having these...


I don't know, like..

.. like flashes, I am not sure
average routine nightmares fit here.


It started after I took that tool.

Dreams, visions.

Things in the mirror they're not there.

In Samoa, they cover the mirrors at night.

It's old school superstition.

Mirrors is a way you see ghosts.

You too?

If I am creeped out enough.

This in my blood I guess.

Yeah but it's not in mine.

I used to dream about this.

When I was starting out.

My own place.

Few regulars.

My own designs.

Can I see yours?

Crash k-pinned it, in San Fran[cisco].

Celebrating my first paycheck.

I felt like I could live worry-free.

I've got that in Berlin.

I was cold, broke.

I loved it.

New York.



Please Dad, please!

Our Father who are in heaven...

- No!
- Say it!

It was the last to offer him, I guess.

He was a religious man.

He thought he had to fight with my body.
He was ashamed.

I left after that.

Never went back.

Will you tattoo me?

What do you want?

You are the Tufuga, the Tufuga decides.


Che cos'รจ? [What is it?]

Amore? [My love?]

I have a question.

Why did you tattoo all those people
at the expo if you don't believe in it?

As a punishment...

For being so stupid

Is it stupid to believe in something?

If you hide behind it,
you just hurt people.

Maybe he was just scared.

Your father.

Did you ever think that maybe
he regretted what he did?

That he suffered even more than you?


That was what I wanted.

He's still there, I guess.
In Wisconsin, in the house I grew up in.

I haven't spoken to him in ten years.

My father died just
before I was born.

Can't even make that pain go away.

It is not too late for you.

Come up at the apartment.

People would notice.

They will notice the tattoo.

They won't see it.

- Bastard!
- Who is that...

- Luke's dead you asshole!
- What?

- You killed my cousin!
- Luke's dead?

- It was your tattoo that killed him!
- Look Victoria...

- The pool was black with ink, he was...
- You're not making any sense!

Then you ask the cops,
you talk to the fucking cops!

- Jake Sawyer.
- Is the tattooist?

I said he was always wrong.
Maybe I was wrong.

You are that guy.

I did your neck.

My neck? The thing is...

..there is more of it.

What you mean there is more of it?


Who was that on the phone?

Just... I am trying to think.

You need to turn yourself in,

whatever you've been doing.
Whatever you did to me.

I did nothing!

- McFadden, Lazlo McFadden.
- What?

- Just stay here.
- What happened to Luke?

Who's McFadden?
Answer the fucking question!

Someone who won't bullshit me!

Lazlo, is Jake.



Lazlo, Jesus!

- You can hear it?
- Who did this to you?

The hammer, the chisel.

The shame that drives my fury.

I'll get an ambulance.

Too late for that, kid.

He's coming! He's coming here!
He's coming! He's coming!


He's coming! He's coming!
He's coming here! He's coming here!

- Who's coming Lazlo?!

He's coming! He's coming here! Aahh!

Come on, Sina, pick up the phone.

- "Hi, it's Sina here cannot come to the phone..."
- Shit!

Victoria, Jesus!

Somebody help me here!

Help me.

- Can you tell me what happened?
- I don't know.

What is it?

A tattoo, it was just a tattoo!

- What's her name?
- Victoria.

Victoria, can you hear me? You're in hospital,
tell me what happened to you.

Ok, let's get her into resuss.


Jake! Jake!

You're gonna have to stay back, mate.

- She's embolemic!
- Blood Pressure is 80 over 50!

Get online it.

And get me 4 units on cross matched blood.
And get the anesthetic grades on call.

- Come on!
- Dropping!

OK, I am in!

- Still dropping!
- Oh my God!

- Clean her out! What have you hit?
- Blood Pressure still dropping!

Has she been in an accident?
Help me out here man!

Heart rate at VT! [Ventricular tachycardia]

- Peg her. Sit deep up to 200.
- 200. Charging.

- One ml. of adrenaline.
- One ml.

- Stand clear.
- Clear.
- Clear.

Still VT.

Once more at 200. Stand clear.

- Charging.
- Clear.


- Can't you see him?
- She's lost consciousness.

- Charge to 360.
- 360. Charging.

- Charged.
- Stand clear.
- Clear.



Isolation Protocol.

Nobody leaves!




- Please.
- You have to come with me.

- There is no fucking time.
- For what?

You know anything about tattooing, doctor?

It took my brother six weeks
to get his Pe'a.

Nearly killed him.

There's a spirit doing this.

I start the tattoo,
He finishes it.

There's another girl.

In Otara.

You have to let me go.

I'll deal with it.

You and I both know this isn't
something doctors can cure.

Thank you.


Is someone there?

They're dead,

He killed them,

Luke, Lazlo, Victoria.

Everyone I tattooed since I did this.

- With that tool.
- You're talking about an infection?

A ghost, he's got a Pe'a.

- Look, I could see him killing her.
- I don't know what you're telling me Jake!

- Take your top off.
- In here? Are you crazy?!

Look, there's no time!



Is this for real?

How long?

- Sina..
- Days?


Look how...

- I trusted you!
- I didn't know!

Stay away from me!

Sina, what's wrong?

What do you want? She is not here.

You'd better come in.

What is it?

Cover it up.

Can you do anything?

You run around with this.. stranger, now.

Embarass me in front of everyone.

And now he gave you the Pe'a!

Not the Malu as a woman should have!

You really hate me this much?

No, please, help me uncle.
What am I supposed to do?


The same as the rest of us.

Pray that God will save you.

I wait for years to try and make
people see Tatau for what it is.

But there's always people like you that think
you can come in and take without asking.

- That's not the point.
- That's exactly the point!

Look, we still don't know
what's doing this or why.

If I can find out what this
thing wants maybe I can...


We need to do something.


You know the traditions.

All I know is how they die.

First the sounds.

The visions.

The tattoo that grows.

Then the ink.

And everywhere their blood.

She'll scream and beg for the end.

And then she's gone.


Well you may be the problem,
but sure as shit I ain't the solution, buddy.

- For Sina you've done enough.
- Alapati please!
- I am not listening bro.

If you really wanna help,

you get as far away from here
as you can and you stay there.

Bro, haven't you ever heard of "invoking spirits"?

- There was a kid with you.
- Yeah?

What's he done?

- He said someone was following me.
- You mean the skinny fellow?

Find out what the spirit wants.
Ask him.

You can ask him the aim yourself
But it'll cost ya.

- How much?
- 50 bucks.

For me and my cousins.

- 50?
- Each.

- OK, my Chief!
- OK, my Chief!




What's he's saying?

Who are you?

The Tattooing Tools.

The Singer and the Song.

The Killer and the Day.

What do you want?

- He says he wanted to kill.
- Why?

- The shame!
- What are you ashamed of?

Tell me!

Get him back, I'm not finished!

- Sorry, brother, can't do that.
- You can't boss these olds around, eh!

They are pure, angry.

So what am I supposed to do now?

Sorry, that's all way not our field of expertise.

What's your drop?

Take me near the church.


an angry spirit
is using me to kill.

If I can learn who he is
I might be able to stop him.

We need to show them the Tatau.

She is under my protection.

The tattoo is still growing, isn't it?

If you turn your back on God,
you'll surely die, child.


Does anyone recognizes this design?

The spirit who did this will continue.
Until she's dead.

Or until his shame is ended.

- It is our business.
- Uncle, let them speak.

I want you to leave.



I have seen it.

Where are you?

What did you do to him?

I don't know what you're talking about.

Your son.

My son left us and brought
shame on this house.

He was a Pe'a mutu, he did not finish
his Pe'a. You're happy now?

And you killed him.

He was so afraid of what
people would think.

Why is this any of your business?

Because I have seen him.


Don't pretend you feel anything.
I know exactly what you did.

You know nothing!

You people,

you think you know everything.

But you are wrong!

You're wrong.

Where is he?

I would give anything... have my Lomi back.


My son had left with nothing...

..but the clothes he stood up in,

and the necklace of our
ancestors for courage.

He said he was going to see
the Tufuga, for the Pe'a.

But the Tufuga said he never
saw him on their day.

I was the last person
to set eyes on him.

That's the truth.

Who was doing his Pe'a?

It's me.

The spirit is Lomi Peranece.

Where are we going?

To where he died.

Alapati. It's late.

When you gave me your tools,

what did you pass on to me?

I do not understand the question.

But come in.

The stranger cut himself with this.

The stranger is an idiot.


He thinks the spirit Tufuga
is working through him.

A wandering Pe'a mutu
trying to end his shame.

Do you believe such stories?

You taught them to me.

Where is Lomi Peranece?

No one knows where Lomi is.

The stranger told me he dreamed of
a young man with a necklace of wild points.

In a shed.

Like your shed.

The one you've always kept locked.

I'm waiting his return
Like I told his parents.

I'd like to see what's in there.

The key is in the cupboard there.


We know you didn't run,
The shame is lifted.

The shame hasn't ended!


His Pe'a was infected.

You infected him. You should
have taken him into the hospital.

They wouldn't have understood.

If they knew I had done this,
I oughta be in shame forever.

So your lies brought
shame on his family.


Leave her alone.

Let it go, boy.

- It's a mercy.
- No.





My son.

For my shame, forgive me.

It was only because I loved you.


He must pay for what he did.

So let him live.

With the shame.

You no longer have the
right to wear the Pe'a.

Does it hurt?

Not anymore.

We're going now or what? I've got ten thousand
customers waiting for me, let's go!.

Where're you going?

I'm going home.

What's going on? You wanna walk?

Let's go!

[ Subtitles by Davtamag ]