Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deadly Farce: SAMURAI COP (1989)

Iranian director Amir Shervan wined and dined us with his gloriously insane and inept HOLLYWOOD COP (1987).  Little did we know that this disaster-piece was only the appetizer for the full course meal of craziness that would be his follow-up, SAMURAI COP.

The Media Blasters/Guilty Pleasures synopsis:

“The Katana gang is out of control in Los Angeles.  They’re involved in everything from gambling to extortion to drugs.  They’ve bullied their way to the top of the underworld through their unmatched brutality.  The police are stymied in their efforts to take the Japanese mob down.  The Yakuza’s code of silence is unbreakable and the police can’t bring any charges against them.  So they’ve brought in an expert.  Joe Marshal, nickname “The Samurai,” is an expert in Japanese culture and martial arts and if it takes a blood drenched street brawl to bring the mobster’s to their knees, then Samurai Joe is ready to RUMBLE!”

SAMURAI COP is the kind of cinema I live for.  An action picture so wrong headed and mixed up that it is hard to believe anyone kept a straight face while making (or screening) it.  The kind of movie that if you describe it to people, they think you are lying.  The kind of movie that has you getting and sending e-mails that say, "OH. MY. GOD!  You havvvvvve to see this flick."  It is a movie so bad that B-movie queen Melissa Moore leaves it OFF her resume to leave room for more respectable titles such as HARD TO DIE, EVIL SPAWN and THE INVISIBLE MANIAC. Heck, she even thought VAMPIRE COP was worthy enough to put on there.

Lead Matt Hannon, apparently a onetime bodyguard for Stallone, gives an incredibly one-dimensional performance, mostly relying on his hair to convey his emotions. The problem is apparently Hannon cut his hair halfway through shooting and is forced to wear the funniest dime store woman’s wig ever during huge chunks of the film.  The sheer fact that he fails to ever show a single emotion (outside of his hair) is a monumental achievement in itself.  The fact that no on set even bothered to mention this to him is even better.  I guess the producers felt his tanned and chiseled body (along with the aforementioned hair) would do all the talking.  But you know you have a problem when the male star’s swimsuit is skimpier than his female co-stars.

Of course, his co-stars help him along by maintaining the same level of stiffness. Only Matt Frazer shows some form of life, hamming it up incredibly as Samurai’s partner Frank Washington. You can tell that director Shervan walked out of LETHAL WEAPON II that summer with visions of SAMURAI COP dancing in his head.  Although the back and forth banter displayed here between partners consists of jokes about Frank’s butt (when Samurai isn’t making sexual innuendo jokes that is).  Robert Z’Dar, sporting a beard and referred to as a Japanese hitman (!), is relatively subdued when compared to his work in the same year’s TANGO & CASH (has anyone tagged both ends of the filmmaking spectrum like that in one year?).  The previously mentioned Moore and single named co-star Cameron (adult film performer Alexis Firestone) provide the requisite nudity.  Interesting to see Cameron adopt a more porn sounding name for her mainstream debut.  Not to be outdone, Shervan also allows B-movie vets Z’Dar and Okamura to show some skin, something I’m sure their fans have NEVER demanded.

Of course, the ineptness behind the camera is what really gives this flick its charm and nowhere is it summed up better than in this action scene.  From the stilted dialog ("Shoot! Shoot him! Shoot!") to the undercranked shots of the cars "speeding" through the streets, it is all pure magic.  Of course, exploding bushes also help:

Now that action scene is funny enough.  But check out how they follow it up.  One would assume the funniest bit is when Washington asks if the suspect can answer any questions and the nurse says, "No way, his lips are burned."  But Shervan follows that business up with one of the downright funniest and awkward flirting scenes captured in the history of cinema (with bonus points going to the cut aways to Washington's reactions):

My reaction at being unable
to find Shervan's third film
SAMURAI COP hit DVD courtesy of Media Blaster’s Guilty Pleasures line and is hosted by B-movie advocate Joe Bob Briggs. The film is presented full screen and looks in fair shape. To be perfectly honest, if it looked any better I might not have enjoyed it as much. Extras include a jaw dropping photo gallery and trailers for several other Guilty Pleasure titles. This marks the fourth DVD to feature commentary by Joe Bob Briggs and it is a great listen. He not only gives some great info on the various actors, but places the film in its proper context of late 80s “go it alone” low budget action filmmaking. You can tell Briggs really enjoys the film’s idiosyncrasies and he points out some great bits (like Cameron, whose job apparently is to say, “The boss is coming.”) In fact, the only thing funnier than his commentary is the movie itself so you have yourself a winner either way.

1 Reactions:

  1. Swanky review. Contains the best bacon grease torture scene in the history of cinema.


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