The Calamari Wrestler
Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Feature:
Part of the fun and joy of watching the Toho giant monster
movies and all of its imitators and knockoffs is that there are guys obviously
in phony suits doing all the fighting.
Who needs digital visual effects when you can wear wacky outfits and
destroy model cities? Many of those
films were practically forerunners of current wrestling, even when it came to
TV (Ultraman) and feature send-ups (Super Inframan, reviewed
elsewhere on this site). Minoru
Kawasaki’s The Calamari Wrestler (2004) is a unique entry in this
The 86-minutes-long comedy feature begins with a simple
wrestling match, emphasizing the skills each opponent needs to win. Within minutes, this is turned on its ear
when a man-sized calamari enters the ring and fights the champ. At first, you think this will be exposed as
a gag, but instead, the title character is treated as an irrefutable entity
onto itself as if it naturally existed that way. It is not the only one.
The rest of the madness leads to Calamari (for lack of a better name)
becoming the new world champ as the Masakazu Migita script plays it straight
the whole time. This goes all the way
to how the media covers Calamari’s international stardom.
This has an authentic sense of humor that is not forced
and can be fun if the viewer plays along and can accept what they see. This is the kind of comedy we least see and
genre fans will particularly appreciate how amusing this is. Though not for everyone, The Calamari
Wrestler has more than a one-joke premise going for it and one only wishes
it got even crazier. Those who think
they might like it will not be disappointed.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image looks to have
originated on video, though if there is film here, any PAL to NTSC conversions
could give it a funny look here and there to suggest that. Either way, it looks just fine for the
production it is, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no palpable surrounds,
but plays back just fine. Extras
include a music video for the end theme, two trailers, two TV spots and a long
making-of featurette that is amusing like the film itself.
- Nicholas Sheffo