Part zombie movie, part revenge drama, part martial arts actioner, Noboru Iguchi’s Dead Sushi is a fanciful take on the humble sushi which bites back, plus some naughty bits and an Admiral Ackbar lookalike - so what’s not to like? Stephen Tan reviews.
Horror-comedy-splattergore is nothing new to director Noboru Iguchi, who made Machine Girl in 2008. Word has it that he decided on Dead Sushi based on the success of Piranha 3D (2010) and he also brought along Attack of The Killer Tomatoes for the ride.
Keiko may be the daughter of a famous sushi chef but the mantle is not easily passed from father to daughter (those who want a more serious discussion on the subject need look no further than David Gelb’s Jiro Dreams Of Sushi). Unable to master the fine art of sushi making, Keiko leaves home and finds work as a waitress at Karinoyu Inn.
As a newcomer, Keiko is bullied by the other waitresses but gets a kind word from the gardener, Sawada. A group of execs from Komatsu Pharmaceuticals has booked into the inn for its reputed fine sushi but Keiko puts down sushi chef Tsuchida when she says that his sushi is not even second-rate. She also hits out at the Komatsu execs, who cannot recognise excellent sushi, calling them “fake gourmets”. A fight ensures where Keiko, who is a skilled martial artist, ends up besting everyone in the room.
Meanwhile, disgruntled former Komatsu scientist Yamada shows up at the inn before first despatching two visitors with his killer sushi - one is decapitated while the other has a squid plunged through his head. The president of Komatsu had years earlier ordered Yamada to develop a serum to revive the cells of dead creatures. However, one of the serum’s side effects was that the subjects turned into violent monsters. And anyone bitten by these creatures became infected too. The project was shut down; the Director put the blame on Yamada, who was arrested. The innkeeper shoots Yamada but the vindictive Yamada manages to inject a squid with the deadly serum.
The innkeeper hushes things up and continues to serve sushi to his guests, the highlight of the evening being the serving of body sushi. The squid infects the sushi in the inn, which in turn infects and kills everyone at the inn, except Keiko, Sawada, ambitious exec Nosaka and the innkeeper and his wife, Yumi. But the survivors are not strong enough and Nosaka, the innkeeper and Yumi succumb to the killer sushi.
By then, Yamada has mutated into a monster and, thanks to a friendly egg sushi (don’t ask!), Keiko’s fighting skills and Sawada’s killer shout (surprise, surprise, Sawada was a former sushi chef as well), Yamada is defeated and the infected zombies and deadly sushi destroyed.
Noboru Iguchi’s Dead Sushi (2012) is not a film for everyone - forget it if you’re looking for a logical and tight script - but it should play nicely for anyone who is game for some Midnight Madness. And you can’t deny there’s a certain gleefulness about it.
For genre fans, the decapitating scene at the beginning of the film looks enticing. Sure, the film is bloody but then, there is far too much CGI blood as well. To add a touch of erotica, the scene involving Yumi and sushi chef Tsuchida giving each other a mouth-to-mouth using a raw egg may look promising at first but turns revolting (as the spoof is probably meant to be) as the couple soon finds the taste of the egg disgusting.
In the midst of the mayhem and gore, when viewers least expect it, the Komatsu Director escapes to the inn’s hot bath and losses his head over a nude woman who thinks that the shower of (the Director’s) warm blood is part of the inn’s hospitality. Perhaps one of the film’s conceits is that when Yamada turns into a monster, he sports a head a-la Admiral Ackbar! Then again, the helpful (turncoat!) egg sushi might not be everyone’s taste (something akin to the mechanical owl in Clash Of The Titans, 1981).
While the sight of an airborne army of killer sushi might not generate quite an appetite, it will however make you take a second look at that scrumptious piece the next time you are at a sushi bar. Just look out for its fangs, if any!
Note: The Dead Sushi DVD (Walker Pictures/Millennium Entertainment) is banned in $ingapore.