Amir Shervan's 1989 film SAMURAI COP
is one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies I have ever seen. A shameless rip-off of
"buddy-buddy" cop movies that proliferated in the 1980's, SAMURAI COP
begins with the requisite artificial pop music of the era (courtesy of Alen
Dermarderossian) with white opening credits set against a black background (a telltale
sign of a low-budget film if there ever was one) and gives way to a man named Okamura
(Gerald Okamura) complaining that his Los Angeles gang is not yet established,
and that they should therefore make friends with the Chinese and Japanese
gangs. Most of his dialogue is indecipherable.
Krista Lane, the eye candy who is
part of the gang, says things like, "Here comes the boss!" or "The
boss is coming." Robert Z'Dar, best
known for the MANIAC COP films, is an imposing guy who does the boss's dirty
work. They get into a fight with a gang
they want to do business with after being rebuffed and several people are
Enter black and white cop team Frank
Washington (Mark Frazer) and Joe Marshall (Matt Hanon), the low-budget answer
to Murtaugh and Riggs from LETHAL WEAPON (1987).
Marshall is a samurai expert (really?!)
who looks completely ridiculous with a full head of long hair and runs around
the place looking completely bug-eyed wearing a variety of ill-fitting hats. He looks like he fell off the cover of a
romance novel. They spout some of the
most quotable, ludicrously awful dialogue I've heard in a long time and enlist
the help of another cop, Peggy (Melissa Moore of 1990's SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE
II), in following the culprits. As a
thank you, Marshall beds her in an amazingly boring and mechanical sex
The cops have run-ins with the
Katana Gang in a laugh-out-loud sequence in a restaurant whey they threaten the
boss. Marshall takes to Jennifer, the
young attractive owner of the joint, but we're not sure if he really likes her
or just wants to get more information.
There's a completely asinine scene involving an effeminate waiter who
looks like he fell out of an early Dario Argento thriller. It is followed up by a samurai fight and Marshall
goes all out with Washington pulling and Indiana Jones on a henchman, the
former performing an extemporaneous arm amputation.
The film is a time capsule of music,
wardrobe, and hairstyles from nearly a quarter-century ago. There is full frontal female nudity, three sad
attempts at sex scenes, and one of the funniest car chases I have ever
seen. T.J. HOOKER possessed more
excitement than this. Most of the
dialogue is either looped or suffers from poor room tone when using on-set
sound. Dale Cummings plays their loudmouth
police captain, constantly yelling at the cops to bring him results. One of the funniest scenes takes place in his
office as he threatens to send Marshall back to where he came from.
Despite the best efforts of
cinematographer Peter Palian who shoots much of the action in masters, the film
lacks a visual style. Onscreen excitement
is nowhere to be found, but all of these drawbacks add considerably to the
film's overall charm. I wish that the
bulk of movies made today were one-tenth as entertaining SAMURAI COP turns out
The film has been transferred from
the original 35mm film negative and the image is crystal clear. While not
digitally restored, this is unquestionably the best the film is probably ever
going to look.
The extras that the disc comes with
An interview with actor Robert Z'Dar
conducted over Skype which runs 25 minutes.
The image quality is poor, however Douglas Dunning, the interviewer, and
the actor are both understandable. Mr. Z'Dar
talks about how he got into the business and came to meet the late director
Amir Shervan with whom he made three films (HOLLYWOOD COP (1987) and KILLING
AMERICAN STYLE (1990) in addition to this one).
Director, Amir Shervan intended SAMURAI COP to be a straightforward
action film. It took three weeks to
shoot on a budget of approximately $800,000.00.
An interview with actor and fight
co-ordinator Gerald Okamura which runs 20 minutes. He discusses his time working with David
Carradine on KUNG-FU and with John Carpenter on BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986)
and ESCAPE FROM L.A. (1996), in addition to SAMURAI COP.
An interview with cinematographer
Peter Palian who talks extensively about his career in the business runs 27
There are also stills galleries and
an amusing fan trailer for the film.
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