Dead Sushi (Japan 2012)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/14/21
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Cast: Rina Takeda, Shigeru Matsuzaki, Asami

Keiko (Rina Takeda) is the daughter of a master sushi chef. He teaches her martial arts and tries to drive out her femininity, claiming that it spoils the taste of fish and that she'll never become a great sushi chef. Heartbroken and disillusioned, she runs away from home and finds a job as a waitress at a small inn that's known for its sushi. Unfortunately, she's clumsy and constantly makes a mess of things, and even exposes the inn's sushi chef as an incompetent hack. However, there's not enough time for her to get reprimanded, as a strange bum unleashes a horde of reanimated killer sushi on the hotel in order to get revenge against one of its guests. That's right: zombie sushi. It talks, it bites, and even flies through the air. And when you think it can't get any stranger, there's even a sushi mating scene. One sushi named Eggy also sings, and joins forces with Keiko because he's tired of being bullied by the other sushi. At this point, it's not even worth trying to keep up with the story, as it boils down to Keiko, Eggy, and a former disgraced sushi chef named Sawada (Shigeru Matsuzaki) fighting for their lives to defeat the rapidly increasing killer sushi.

This may be director Noboru Iguchi's weirdest film yet, and that's saying a lot. It's complete chaos, and you just need to turn off your brain and enjoy it if you can. It's a surprisingly well-made film and the lighting and cinematography are quite good. Karate expert Rina Takeda ("High Kick Girl") gives an excellent performance and proves to have a knack for both comedy and drama. Her action scenes are very good, except that the stuntmen have a hard time keeping up with her, and a lot of her hits miss by a glaring amount. Still, for what it is, the action choreography is surprisingly good. Genre veteran Asami plays the inn's hostess and has a spirited exchange with Rina, which is very satisfying. It's a more subtle and subdued role for Asami, but she also has a couple of mind-blowing scenes including a robot dance and a truly disgusting segment where she and another guy pass an egg yolk between their mouths. It's appalling, and they both look like they're about to hurl, which makes it even harder to watch.

The visual effects are a mixed bag. The makeup and sushi props look pretty good, but the CGI is terrible. Practical blood effects are enhanced with digital blood, but the results are disappointing. The film is overflowing with Iguchi's humor and sensibilities, so fans of his work should know what they're getting into and expect the unexpected. There were so many moments that left me slack-jawed in disbelief that it's impossible to write an objective review of the film. That said, if you're a fan of Noboru Iguchi, Rina Takeda, or general forehead-slapping Japanese weirdness, "Dead Sushi" is worth checking out.