Review: ‘The Calimari Wrestler’

Funny pic about a brooding wrestler reincarnated as a giant squid is a kind of "Waiting for Godzilla" aimed at the midnight circuit. F/x, amounting to men in rubber suits, is proudly of the Ed Wood school, but tasty tale is served up with a redeeming wink. Cult suction should ensue, but it won't see much theatrical ink.

Funny pic about a brooding wrestler reincarnated as a giant squid is a kind of “Waiting for Godzilla” aimed at the midnight circuit. F/x, amounting to men in rubber suits, is proudly of the Ed Wood school, but tasty tale is served up with a redeeming wink. Quick sketch of Japanese pro wrestling history, couched in terms of island’s postwar identity problems, give extra context to the tentacle-in-cheek sports spoof. Cult suction should ensue, but it won’t see much theatrical ink.

Koji Taguchi’s (Osamu Nishimura) hard-won wrestling belt is soon snatched away by what looks like a scowling penis with 10 arms (Akira). Koji does his worst to the slimy interloper, by it’s not enough. “Joint holds don’t work on invertebrates,” an unflappable judge explains to breathless reporters. Strangely, the critter reminds Koji’s fiancee (Kana Ishida) of her ex-b.f., who came to a nasty end. Calimari’s revival occasions teeth-gnashing about giant creatures attacking an insecure Japan. But social symbolism doesn’t help when he faces off against yet more cephalopodan contenders.

The Calimari Wrestler

Japan

Production

A Phantom Film production (Tokyo). (International sales: Klockworx, Los Angeles.) Produced by Shuntaro Kanai. Executive producer, Akio Jissoji. Directed, edited by Minoru Kawasaki. Screenplay, Kawasaki, Masakazu Migita.

Crew

Camera (color), Yasutaka Nagano; music, Tomoko, others. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival (Extreme Asia), Oct. 28, 2004. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Osamu Nishimura, Akira, Kana Ishida.
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