The impudently titled Jaws in Japan has a horrendous rating on IMDB – a shocking 1.9. The film has become somewhat infamous amongst lovers of sharksploitation for its audacious false advertising. Jaws in Japan – or Psycho Shark, as it was retitled in America for obvious legal reasons – may feature a shark on its DVD cover, but the giant shark’s screen time is almost nonexistent. There’s no denying the lack of shark in Jaws in Japan, though surely it can’t be as bad as 1.9… right?


aka: Psycho Shark
Japan, 2009, John Hijiri

I’ve seen a lot of weird films and not many are weirder than Jaws in Japan. I have no idea what was going through the minds of the crew and cast during the production of this film – that, to be honest, can barely even be called a film. Based on its marketing, I would imagine this film was made purely for an international market, cashing in on the latest craze of shitty CGI shark films and the ever present commodity of “weird Japan.” That’s certainly part of Jaws in Japan, but this is more than just a cold exercise of marketing. No, it’s much stranger than that.

Jaws in Japan plays out, for the most part, as a found-footage affair. We begin with home video footage of three attractive young Japanese ladies fooling around at a beach location. We then see an unrelated female character watching the video, which cuts back and forth to flashes of the three girls being murdered. After this nonsensical introduction, we are introduced to Miki (Nonami Takizawa) and Mai (Airi Nakajima) – another two holidaying girls with enormous breasts. They arrive at the (presumably) same beach resort as those in the opening video. Mai instantly starts a relationship with Kenji, a guy who works at the resort, while Miki watches the boring DV tapes of the three boring girls enjoying their boring holiday. After a while, Miki comes to suspect Kenji is a murderer.

You may have noticed the shark wasn’t even mentioned in that synopsis, and it really is that irrelevant, but more on that later. Jaws in Japan seems to be a vehicle for bikini idols, Nonami Takizawa and Airi Nakajima. Their posing for the camera is endless; complete with huge boobs bursting out of skimpy bikinis. As dull as Jaws in Japan can be, I suppose there’s at least omnipresent eye candy. Even a revelatory montage (actually one of the film’s finer moments) filled with a grumbling ominous backing track features a slow motion cutaway to Takizawa jumping up and down in a bikini:

But shit! Nothing happens in Jaws in Japan! We have to watch Miki, looking utterly devoid of emotion, watching useless home video footage – rewinding and fast-forwarding, for little reason – over and over and over and fucking over again. The needlessly nonlinear narrative jumps mindlessly back and forth in time and decides not to explain major plot details. Jaws in Japan is so awfully boring that it actually becomes something of a work of art. It is hypnotically boring. It’s so boring that it almost becomes disturbing. I felt genuinely unsettled watching this silly film.

So, the inevitable shark rating. I must point out from this point on, you can consider this spoiler territory, but I doubt many of you will want to seek this film out. I’m awarding Jaws in Japan a (probably undeserving) half a shark out of five, because it at least has a shark, albeit with only seconds of screen time. The giant CGI shark of Jaws in Japan appears for two very short shots (scenes with fin not included – of which there’s one). The shark is largely unimportant to the film’s threadbare plot. The villains of Jaws in Japan are part of (what we can guess is) a shark worshiping cult. The murdering resort employees toss their bleeding, but still alive, victims into the ocean to be eaten, off-screen, by the giant shark. The shark finally appears in the film’s dwindling minutes, and, it must be said, this scene is fantastically stupid. Like the rest of the film, it’s oddly hypnotic and totally bizarre. For those wanting to skip the dull opening hour, here’s the shark scene below:

Jaws in Japan is horrible and it certainly deserves its low IMDB rating (although it’s probably a little too low and more based on disappointment). However, somehow, I enjoyed it. I really can’t explain it, but this film had me entranced. And I don’t think it was simply the constant cleavage quivering on the screen. I think it may be that I’ve simply never seen anything like Jaws in Japan. It is truly one of a kind. A turd indeed, but there is no other turd like it.

For those wanting to see Nonami Takizawa’s (marginally) less classy work, here is but one of the many samples of her AV work: