The Calamari Wrestler (2004) / Comedy-Fantasy
aka Ika Resuraa
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for some sensuality and comic violence
Running Time: 89 min.
Cast: Akira, Kana Ishida, Osamu Nishimura, Eiichi Kikuchi, Hirohisa Nakada, Lou Ooshiba
Director: Minoru Kawasaki
Screenplay: Minoru Kawasaki, Masazaku Migita
Review published September 18, 2005
You have to have a soft spot for the utterly absurd if you're going to have even a remote chance of enjoying this silly Japanese concoction, as The Calamari Wrestler is one of the silliest movies you'll ever likely see. Campy fun is sure to be had for those willing to accept the premise, and even if the film itself could never remotely tries to be anything but bad, this is one of those "guilty pleasures" that one can't help but have a good time watching, especially if you decide to watch this with a group of rowdy friends.
The film starts with wrestler Koji Taguchi finally gaining the title belt as a professional wrestler, only to get decimated shortly after by a giant squid. Although not an official fight, Koji can't get over the fact that he was humiliated so easily, and he wants a rematch for all the marbles. The squid, known as Calamari Wrestler, is believed to be the reincarnation (of sorts) of Kan-ichi Iwata, the popular former wrestling champion that left the scene several years before. The promoters aren't so keen on the Calamari Wrestler winning, so they refuse his bid to compete, but Koji is so fixed on saving face, he won't face any other challengers. Meanwhile, Iwata resumes his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, although she is conflicted as to whether or not she can ever love a giant squid.
Although completely deadpan in its approach, nothing is played for seriousness, as even the costumes have been crafted in a comical way (like something out of "Sigmund & the Sea Monsters"). This isn't really a joke-fest, but it is humorous to watch, particularly in seeing how they try to shoehorn this nonsense into a formula sports film, sort of a spin-off from the Rocky series in its main themes.
Let's face it, most of the humor of the film could probably have been had in a 5-minute sketch on television, so if you've seen a trailer for this movie, you probably have exhausted a great deal of the chuckles you might have. After watching it for about twenty minutes, I felt like it was overkill myself, however, a funny thing happened. I actually began to care for the giant squid, and even began rooting for him to win! I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I had a good time watching Calamari Wrestler, although I definitely would not recommend it to just anybody, as most viewers will probably find it too weird or stupid to bother with. Still, there is definitely an intrinsically humorous quality to it all that is appealing, and once the fighting begins, the schmaltz and mock drama actually begins to pay off with cheesy but engaging confrontations.
Recommended for people that regularly feast on bizarre, cartoonish b-movies without any pretense of hoping for a good film. Even if you don't end up liking it, at least you'll have a fun time talking about the movie you saw with the rest of your friends and co-workers the following day. An instant cult film if there ever was one.
My idea for a sequel: The Calamari Wrestler vs. The Iron Chef.
©2005 Vince Leo