The Calamari Wrestler
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Took me about fifteen minutes before I realized it was a satire of the boxing movie, "Rocky". Actually, it's a satire on all of the Rocky movies combined.
Laughed so hard I fell off my chair a few times. Absolutely brain-melting, Highly recommended (that is, if you happen to enjoy the truly bizarre)
From there its cheap fish jokes and frenetic and bizarre and random plot "twists" that are reminiscent of cartoon Anime like Bobobo-bobo-bobo on Cartoon Network.
Weird flick but less due to its bizarre plot than the bizarre shift it takes half-way through the film. That said, this isn't a bad film. It doesn't fall into the "so bad it's good" category either. It's also surprisingly entertaining, quite funny at times. However, had it just stayed consistent with the direction it was going in the first half, it would have been a much better film.
Still, it's entertaining and worth a watch if you're into off-beat cinema.
"Professional" wrestling, a giant squid costume, subtitles, tentacles flailing about when the calamari talks... I thought this would be a shoo-in for a bad movie. But it's in that weird space of good train wreck. Once you start watching, you just can't stop. You can't believe what you're seeing on the screen and you're waiting for the next absurd thing to show up... First the namesake calamari, then an octopus, then... well... I shouldn't ruin what comes next.
This is one of those movies who's name you drop in a conversation and then spend the next 10 minutes gleefully describing and, more often than not, arranging a viewing of. Of all the "bad movies" I own, and I have quite a few, this is the one I've seen the most often because people want to see it. If you're on the fence, just do it. Buy this. Watch this. You won't regret it.
Oh, and did I mention it's also a love story?
The story, what there is of it, follows a wrestler who is reincarnated as a giant squid. Now, this guy loves wrestling so much, he isn't about to let his new squid body get in his way. He jumps back in the ring, and the Calamari Wrestler becomes an overnight sensation, especially when he faces off and beats the Octopus Wrestler. All the sports flick cliches come into play, as the Calamari Wrestler gets star struck by his own fame, finds true love, endorses products...until suddenly, a strong young shrimp steps in and beats the Calamari Wrestler down. He must train hard to regain his title and self-respect.
There are no special effects here to speak of. The Calamari Wrestler is just a guy walking around with a big squid suit stuck on him. Part of the charm is just how seriously the actors take the story. One almost bounces back and forth wondering if this is a comedy or not.
But make no mistake, it is. Director Minoru Kawasaki specializes in doing parody flicks, riffing on popular genres and making strange movies like "The World Sinks Except Japan" and other oddities.
Just how odd do you like your movies? That is the question you have to ask yourself when considering "Calamari Wrestler". If you like the bizarre and surreal, if a Midnight Madness b-movie is your idea of heaven, then this just might be for you. It was a little too much for me.
In a month when I saw two of the five films nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture in 2007 (and a third which should have been and was ignored)-- one of which won-- I would be hard-pressed to call anything other than one of those the best movie I'd seen all month, right? Well, I'm not sure anything I'll see for the rest of this year will measure up to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but for sheer pleasure, nothing I've come across so far this month has topped The Calamari Wrestler. I grant you, Minoru Kawasaki (also responsible for Executive Koala, among others) is not making Julian Schnabel-league films, but then he's not trying to, either.
A takeoff on the highly-regarded Karate Bear Fighter, The Calamari Wrestler is about Japanese pro wrestling, which, in this odd alternate universe, is in decline. Until, that is, at the end of a title match, a giant squid mysteriously appears in the ring and hand the winner of the match his head on a plate. Calamari quickly becomes a fan favorite, and much of the rest of the movie deals with the upcoming rematch (but there's more, and I'd have to get into major spoilers to reveal the last third of the movie).
What's so great about it? It's hysterically funny. Cruelly cheap special effects, subplots and shots stolen from just about every boxing movie known to man, dumb plot twists, a silly script, this movie has it all. I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard at a movie. If an American comedy has been a tenth this funny in the past forty years, I haven't run across it. And every time you think it's hit the height of stupidity, don't worry-- it finds another peak to jump to. It's an awful movie, but it's an awful movie in the best of ways. ****
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A film with one of the most utterly bizarre premises (a film like this would never get made in the US, let me tell you that right now) that manages to actually be quite enjoyable. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Darth Nerdicus
Seriously its so bizzar. The cover makes it look like a comedy, but its played up as a straight up drama. Sorta like Rocky if he were a squid? Read morePublished on February 11, 2013 by Hydra
I bought two copies of this movie at 2 different times. Both showed up very damaged by the broken spindle inside the case. Neither DVD would play. Read morePublished on August 16, 2012 by John Tyler
Anyone who thinks that this is going to be a serious movie ought to have their head examined. All it takes is looking at the extras - behind the scenes filming to see that the... Read morePublished on December 13, 2011 by Kiltmaker
I loved "The Calamari Wrestler" from the moment the giant squid stepped into the ring and counters Koji Taguchi's signature Reverse-Inverted Full Nelson with a Northern Light... Read morePublished on August 25, 2010 by Robert I. Hedges
Yes, yes, yes, I enjoyed THE CALAMARI WRESTLER and I'm proud of it! Let's face it folks, if you order this movie you either must have SOME idea of what you're in for or you have an... Read morePublished on January 28, 2009 by Karen Shaub