Film Review: Dead Sushi – A Film By Noboru Iguchi Starring Rina Takeda
More pandemonium from the director of Machine Girl!
The unrelenting filmmaker Noboru Iguchi (TOMIE Unlimited) has presented audiences around the globe with part mechanical geisha that shoot ninja throwing stars from their buttocks; vengeful schoolgirls with lethal weaponry in place of certain limbs; and a motorcycle that transforms into a karate robot. As wacky as these concepts may be, they actually seem quite credible when compared to his latest offering Dead Sushi, an outrageous cinematic feast that has a cute karate girl taking on killer seafood.
Trained by her domineering father in the art of sushi-making and karate, Keiko snaps under the mental strain and runs away from home, finding work in a rural hot springs inn. But chaos erupts when a resentful ex-employer of a pharmaceutical company injects the hotel’s seafood with a drug, bringing it to life as psychotic killers. Keiko must use her karate skills to put an end to the madness.
Iguchi wrote Dead Sushi as homage to all the “animal/vegetable-attack-type” films he watched as a child like Jaws, the outlandish B movie spoof Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Gremlins, as well as the more recent Piranha 3D. Nobody had made a sushi-attacking film before, so Iguchi wanted to be the first. He combines two popular imports of Japan, sushi and karate, to make an out of the ordinary comedy action flick.
Cast in the role of Keiko is real-life black belt karate champion Rina Takeda whom Iguchi had worked with previously on the TV series The Ancient Doogoo Girls: Doogoon Five. He specifically picked her because he was impressed with her skills as a martial artist and wanted to show her real personality which is bright and cheerful, rather than the tough and cool characters she’s portrayed in other films like High Kick Girl and Kunoichi (aka Ninja Girl). It’s a comedy picture after all so Iguchi wanted Takeda’s fighting style to be more in line with Jackie Chan’s than Bruce Lee’s; he wanted the fight sequences to be cute and “girly” and not so intense. Also cast in the film is Iguci regular Asami who plays the co-owner of the inn, Yumi Hanamaki and performs a very convincing robot dance and not to mention the “Japanese kiss” which involves a raw egg – it beggars belief!!!
Iguchi wrote the screenplay in just three weeks and there was only two months of preparation time to choreograph the fight scenes and to get the special effects sorted out, which were created by the head of Studio Higemegone, Taigo Ishino, and his creative team. Once everything was in place it took just ten days to shoot the film.
The World Premiere of Dead Sushi was held on 22nd July at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal and was an outstanding sell-out success with queues lining the streets. Iguchi, Takeda and Executive Producer, Katsumi Otani, attended as special guests and took to the stage after the screening for a Q&A session – Takeda even gave a karate demonstration in front of the elated audience. Its UK premiere took place on 26th August as part of the Film4 FrightFest, which ran from 23rd – 27th August.
So, what’s the verdict, a pile of old tosh or a masterpiece? Well, it’s neither. However, after all the anticipation and build-up, it’s not a disappointment and delivers the goods. It’s as bonkers as any other Iguchi film; only this time the end result is a little more ‘family friendly’ due to the toning down of violence and gore. There are, however, still plenty of action sequences to enjoy with karate girl Rina Takeda doing what she does best – kicking butt. Unlike Takeda’s other previous films like Karate Girl, Dead Sushi allows the young actress to flex her acting muscles a bit more and shows a sweeter, playful side to her personality.
The special effects makeup is totally outrageous of course and lends itself to some pretty bizarre situations concerning the killer seafood and potential victims. Dead Sushi is certainly a film worth watching again and again. But be warned: If this is your introduction into the wacky world of Iguchi, you may want to book yourself in for some therapy afterwards.