Fantasia 2012 – Dead Sushi Review (Matt Hodgson)

Fantasia Film Festival 2012

Dead Sushi (World Premiere)

Starring Rina Takeda, Shigeru Matsuzaki, Kentaro Shimazu, Takashi Nishina, and Asami

Directed by Noboru Iguchi

It was just the other night as I watched Iguchi’s other film at Fantasia, Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead, that I started thinking, ‘maybe I’m too old for this stuff.’ Shouts of ‘DANGER’ issued from the crowd while zombies walked backwards, hands on the floor, and behinds in the air as they pursued the heroes in Zombie Ass. Does something like that require a spoiler alert? Anyway, I thought I was going to need a break from crazy Japanese splatter movies. However, the following night was the world premiere of Dead Sushi, and was I really going to miss the wildly entertaining introduction and Q&A by the charismatic Noboru Iguchi himself? I decided to risk one more foray into the world of ridiculous Japanese horror, and am I ever glad I did!

‘I want sushi. I’m hungry. I want human. Sushi is hungry. Hungry!’ This is how the trailer for Dead Sushi promotes the movie, and really, this is all you need to know in terms of the story, although I don’t imagine it would be very professional of me to write a one sentence synopsis. Keiko (Takeda) is the daughter of a famous and unforgiving sushi chef. Her father has trained Keiko from a young age in martial arts and the art of sushi making. However, one day Keiko decides that she can’t take another scolding from her authoritarian father and leaves home in search of a happier life. She easily finds a job at a small resort working as a serving girl. After an encounter with a group of unhappy businessmen staying at the resort which almost costs Keiko her job, sushi begins to come to life and tries to eat everybody. I could go into more detail, but…why?

Noboru Iguchi has crafted a wildly entertaining movie. It’s silly, it’s ridiculous, but at the same time incredibly fresh, just like the delectable pieces of nigiri and sashimi that fly around the resort. Dead Sushi is absolutely hilarious and the audience participation during the screening at Fantasia is of the variety that some filmmakers can only dream of. There is a bit of a lull in the originality and hilarity for about 15 minutes near the end of the film, but a full-blown tuna transformation and a maki battleship save the day.

Rina Takeda is very charismatic on-screen and her martial arts skills are nothing to scoff at. The rest of the cast are great comedic talents, and despite the ridiculous nature of Dead Sushi, the script is actually quite intelligent. One of my favourite elements of the film was the sushi education that was embedded in the narrative. Attentive viewers will come out of dead sushi with a wealth of sushi information, specifically regarding the proper way to eat sushi and how to make the best sushi, although it may take some practice before you approach the skills of Keiko’s father. During the Q&A one audience member actually had the gall to ask how to make the best sushi despite the plethora of information already provided in the film. I’m calling you out right here: ‘please don’t waste a precious Q&A question on information we already know just so that you can get a free poster!’

Finally, a testament to Noboru Iguchi’s storytelling skills. Iguchi was actually able to endear a piece of Tamago (rolled-egg) nigiri to the audience. Keiko’s friend Eggy won over the hearts of everyone, however, Eggy’s story is a sad one. Keiko only befriends Eggy as he is looked down upon and abandoned by the rest of the sushi. I am deadly serious when I say that Tamago is one of the most disrespected pieces of sushi and it downright sickens me to see a piece of Tamago abandoned on a plate, the rest of the sushi in the customer’s belly. Tamago is delicious! Sushi bigotry is not ok!

I sincerely hope Iguchi continues to crank out more movies like Dead Sushi. Zombie Ass wasn’t really my cup of tea, but Dead Sushi is a wildly entertaining time with an audience, and I imagine it will play well with groups of friends over some nigiri platters and sake. Hotter than a mouthful of wasabi, Dead Sushi is original, bloody as hell, incredibly funny, and certainly worth your time. But remember, eat the sushi before it eats you!

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