The Calamari Wrestler

2004 | Color | 86 min

Starring: Akira, Kana Ishida, Osamu Nishimura, Eiichi Kikuchi, Hirohisa Nakada, Lou Ooshiba.

Directed by: Minoru Kawasaki

Koji Taguchi is on top of the wrestling world.  Aided by the mysterious disappearance of his main rival, Kan-ichi Iwata, Koji has finally managed to secure a shot at the championship.  Unfortunately for him, his moment in the spotlight is abruptly cut short, as immediately after he wins the heavyweight championship, the title belt is snatched from his hands by an unexpected challenger—a giant squid man! After attempts by security and ring crew fail to subdue the cranky cuttlefish, Koji takes matters into his own hands, attacking the ink-filled invader and slapping on his patented finisher, the “reverse inverted full nelson” (Yes, I believe that is probably just as painful as it sounds). However, as our helpful ring announcer points out, “Joint locks don’t work on an invertebrate. They’re too slippery.” After utilizing his superior slipperiness to escape Koji’s “unbreakable” hold, the giant squid man hits a finishing move of his own (coincidentally, the same finisher employed by Koji’s old rival, Iwata), a Northern Lights suplex, and counts Koji out for the three.

“I once caught a fish, thiiiiis big!”

Understandably humiliated by his “loss” to an anthropomorphic side-dish in wrestling boots, Koji devotes himself entirely to regaining his lost honor by defeating this Calamari Wrestler clean in the ring—even going so far as postponing his wedding to his fiance, and his missing adversary’s former lover, Miyako (whose actress, although as cute as a bug’s ear, is out-acted by a squid suit on several occasions) until he can achieve his goal. Who exactly is this bizarre new challenger and what lengths will Koji have to go to defeat this mysterious foe?  And why does this strange challenger seem so familiar?

Boy, we’ve all been there, huh?

This movie is so unrepentantly weird it’s hard to know where to begin, exactly. From the moment the Calamari Wrestler appears in the ring, it’s all complete madness until the final credits roll. After twenty minutes or so, you won’t even question the validity of a love triangle featuring a wrestling squid, a wrestling octopus (Yup, an octopus shows up, too), and Miyako—a woman who clearly suffers from a severe tentacle fetish. Through all the insanity, the movie manages to deliver spot-on parodies of the wrestling industry and the media, as well as numerous references and homages to Rocky, culminating in the final epic showdown pitting the Calamari Wrestler against a boxing shrimp man (Of course there’s a boxing shrimp man…) named Squilla, in the awesomely-named, “Squid Vs. Squilla New Year’s Eve Seafood Smackdown” (“Only $49.95, and only on Pay-Per-View!!!” Eat your heart out, Vince McMahon).

“Ten minutes a day, three times a week, my wet, squishy ass!”

What makes The Calamari Wrestler so enjoyable is that, while there are numerous intentionally-hilarious moments throughout the film (the training montage comes immediately to mind) and the plot is undeniably as goofy as all hell (Wrestler tries to reclaim his title from a giant, wrestling squid man while his fiance, Miyako, is torn between her love for her him and her feelings for the aforementioned giant, wrestling squid man), everything is played completely straight. Nobody mugs to the camera during a romantic scene or intentionally hams it up in the middle of a dramatic moment for a cheap laugh. It’s all so damn sincere and that’s what makes it so surreal and ultimately so entertaining.

“Hey, while you’re out, would you mind picking up some tampons?”

If it isn’t clear to you by now, The Calamari Wrestler is completely, unequivocally, 100%, certifiably insane and I love it. It is bizarre and hilarious from the very beginning and doesn’t let up for a moment, right up to the melodramatic twist ending. As someone who knows b-movies and was a huge wrestling fan growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, trust me when I say The Calamari Wrestler is more baffling than the Gobbledy Gooker, sillier than THE YE-TAAHH!, and twice as entertaining as The Shockmaster. Take my advice: Stop reading this and go out and find a copy right now! You can thank me later, brother!

“Calamari Cola: If it’s good enough for a slimy, disgusting cephalopod like me, isn’t good enough for you, too?”



Reviewed By Derek “Superior Slipperiness” Miller
Posted September 18, 2017

Video Clip – The Calamari Wrestler makes his entrance


Additional Screenshots (Click an image to view full-size)

Dedicated to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan


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