Noboru Iguchi has had a prolific output now for over fifteen years, so much so that when you see his name above the title of a film, his reputation dictates that your likely response from what you’re about to see will be a mixture of nausea and mirth.
In the UK he’s best known for the excellent Machine Girl as well as Robo-Geisha, and more recently Monster Pictures have been distributing some of his work such as Tomie: Unlimited early last year and only a few weeks back the excellent ‘F is for Fart’ which was part of the ABCs Of Death. In his latest work, Dead Sushi we meet Keiko (Rina Takeda), a trainee sushi chef who begins by detailing the complex art of making sushi and how she hopes one day to reach the level of craft achieved by her father.
There is a great deal of baggage between Keiko and her father, as no matter how hard she tries she can’t seem to reach the standard he expects. However, as Keiko herself alleges, is it simply because she wasn’t born a boy? It’s not long before Keiko simply can’t stand the pressure, and leaves home in the hope of finding her true calling. She takes a job at an inn, but being somewhat accident prone she has a hard time establishing herself and gaining the respect of her peers.
Meanwhile, checking themselves into the inn is a delegation of businessmen from a pharmaceutical company. They’re all a little boisterous and leery, and during a sushi eating session Keiko’s knowledge of the art comes to the fore and she finds herself unable to hold back from criticising the way the sushi is presented, served and eaten. Cue Keiko’s kung fu skills coming into play as both the businessmen are offended at the criticism as well as the chef and the inn owners too. However, before the disagreement and ensuing fight sequence can go too far, a disgruntled former employee of the pharmaceutical company makes his presence known, injects a squid with a nefarious serum and before you can say sashimi we have flesh eating sushi on the loose.
Dead Sushi is an unhinged, irreverent delight. Where else could you see two pieces of sushi having sex, a villain with a tuna head and a flying sashimi battleship amongst a catalogue of other sights that I can guarantee you will have never even imagined, let alone seen in your life. Iguchi has a long line of detractors who have often criticised him for his juvenile humour (e.g endless fart gags), poor special effects and relentless CGI geysers of blood. To me though, this is what defines an Iguchi film as without this his work would surely be like a David Lynch movie without a dwarf and red velvet curtains.
Dead Sushi is a 90 minute ball of relentless comedic mayhem, gross out gore and SFX. While it was hard to sustain such heightened anarchy for the duration of the film without the inevitable lull, this movie just about achieves it. I’d say its Iguchi’s best film since Machine Girl, and certainly an ideal opportunity for anyone disillusioned with this style of Japanese filmmaking to re-evaluate their opinion as this may alter your opinion.