Calamari Wrestler - Ika Resuraa (Kawasaki Minoru 2004)


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Calamari Wrestler
[Ika Resuraa]

Genre: Pro-Wrestling Seafood Love Story

review in one breath

The Japanese pro-wrestling championship match is suddenly interrupted by a large Squid whose unrivaled wrestling skills make him an overnight wrestling sensation -- Squid Wrestler!. But then formidable contenders emerge including a large Octopus and a huge Shrimp with a killer punch! Tune in as Squid Wrestler attempts to hold onto his title and get the girl! A truly strange film, this one.


intro

This cute and funny film is definitely in a category of its own. This is written and directed by Kawasaki Minoru and stars a collection of actual Japanese pro-wrestlers (none of whom I am familiar with).

On the one hand, this film seems wholly interested in the sport of Japanese pro-wrestling, as the central elements of the narrative involve the sport's grand history shortly following the WWII, current marketing strategies, wrestling's gradual decline in popularity, and the means whereby it renews itself through a return to its core spirit.

On the other hand this presents a rather humanitarian message and offers an interesting twist on cinema's traditional stereotype of the kaiju (monster). Such monstrosities are generally portrayed as the fierce byproducts of human technology gone awry. And here the wrestling management's initial reaction to our beloved giant Squid is to associate him with all that is currently evil in the world, thereby making him a natural evil nemesis to the champion in the minds of the public. But this mindset is reevaluated as the storyline progresses and a new perspective emerges which offers an avenue of hope rather than of fear and reaction.

And on the other hand (Squid have 8 hands, by the way) this could be nothing more than a movie overly enthralled by burly men jumping around in large rubber suits of various highly edible sea creatures.

story

As Taguchi is handed Japan's pro-wrestling Champion Belt after his final match of the season, it is suddenly snatched from his hands by a large Squid who then proceeds to pound the daylights out of him. In the following weeks, Taguchi cannot live down the humiliation and vows to his fiance Miyako that he cannot rest (or marry) until he has defeated the large, slippery creature. Meanwhile, the wrestling management has hopes of making Squid Wrestler their new star.

It soon becomes apparent that Squid Wrestler is not your average 9 foot tall walking calamari. Besides that fact that he hangs out in a Zen Temple and practices acsetic Zen meditation in order to ward of persistent evil thoughts of a writhing naked young woman, he seems to be the strange reincarnation of the famous wrestler Kan-Ichi, Taguchi's former sparring partner and Miyako's former fiance...

When the day of the match between Squid Wrestler and Taguchi arrives, everyone will be in for a big shock when Taguchi arrives transformed into a HUGE OCTOPUS! Will Squid beat Octopus? And will their combined skills be enough to put down the mysterious and formidable GIANT SHRIMP???

verdict

This is fun on several levels and is well worth checking out if you are in the mood for a very strange and cornball movie. Just be prepared to watch big guys in hilarious rubber suits attempt to accomplish all those cool pro-wrestling moves (without stepping on their tentacles).

Eight thumbs up!

Version reviewed: Region 1 subtitled DVD available via mainstream US venues.

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
If you are familiar with Japanese pro-wrestling, you will undoubtedly recognize many of this film's cast. Although some limbs are ripped out, everyone in the audience will be thinking of succulent sushi. Is it really "sex" if its between a HOT babe and a Squid? This is definitely in a class by itself and for that reason a very fun one to experience.

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