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Manor On Movies--Samurai Cop

  Samurai Cop (1991)

Here’s another of those deeply buried treasures I like to consider one of “my discoveries” in light of how little if any national critical attention a film has generated beyond the ravings of your humble narrator.

What we’ve got here is a cosmically obvious attempt to produce a Lethal Weapon clone with a minimum of capital (and talent.) It also goes down as a strong contender for the Most Preposterous Hairdo On A Leading Man In Film History trophy, the Mel Gibson wannabe’s decidedly effeminate locks giving him the appearance of a brunette Fabio or a highly unconvincing transvestite. Try not laughing the first time you spot this mug. It’s nearly impossible!

Samurai Cop is also stuffed with the classic junkfilm directorial technique of filling an action scene with tight shots isolating a single character reacting to whatever happened in the previous frame. Thus, in its numerous gun battles, you see a series of edits along the lines of “cop shoots and misses”/cut to “baddy dodges and returns fire”/cut to “cop shoot some more”/cut to “baddie takes two slugs to the chest”…as opposed to a simple single medium-range view of one man capping another.

“What’s so great about that?” YOU CAN BE IN THIS MOVIE!

That’s right, because the characters are never seen in the same frame, you can tape yourself re-enacting one guy’s bits and, employing basic home computer video-editing software, seamlessly replace the original footage with your own. Yes, you too could face off with a bargain bin Danny Glover knockoff!

(Admit it, it’s your lifelong dream. No fibbing, either; I’ve read your diary. Oh, and that entry about the humiliating incident in your junior year--don’t worry, it’s our little secret. I hope you’ve since learned to lock the door first.)

Plot-wise, Samurai pits freewheeling, martial-arts-trained detective (Matt Hannon) and straight-laced black partner—sound familiar?—Frank (Mark Frazer) against the Japanese Katana gang, their chief ruffian played by direct-to-video royalty Robert Z’Dar.

Hey, wait a second: isn’t the Z-Man a Caucasian? Apparently the Katanas’ want ads list them as “EOE”—Equal Opportunity Evildoers—as, not only are most of the henchmen honkies, but they also call in an all-cracker crew from “New York” for back-up. Okay, that’s as screwy as the blood-drenched pic having a completely inappropriate bubbly Beverly Hills Cop-style soundtrack; but it’s the insane elements that make these things so damn amusing. Now, getting back to the storyline….

From what we witness, the totality of Joe’s “police work” entails afternoons spent bedding every woman he meets; never working a night shift; and, waiting around for Katana gunmen to ambush him. (They, too, evidently only work during daylight hours.) About two-dozen fatalities and 90 minutes later, the inevitable lead-goodie-vs.-lead-baddie throwdown goes down. But because—wait for it—these are honorable psychopaths with begrudging respect for each other, the duo forego firearms and battle it out in a martial arts face-off. After all, even sans guns, both men are, ahem, lethal weapons.

Writer-director Amir Sheevan must have read every word of the “What Men Want” pamphlet before going into production, what with the gunfights, the car chases, the gunfight during a car chase, the man engulfed in flames, the whore blonde nurse, and the fatal fisticuffs. And as if that wasn’t enough to entice every beer-blooded he-man, literally half the women with speaking parts flash nude flesh.

The bared babe line-up includes legendary 80s “scream queen” Melissa Moore, beautifully butted Janice Farley and Z’Dar’s moll, Cameron Oppenheimer, better known as porn star Krista Lane. Then comes another insane twist: for no apparent reason (perhaps someone double-dog-dared her?), a cop’s age-45ish wife bares a boob during a struggle with the Gotham goons. While I live by the motto “The more gratuitous, the better,” fellas, this particular glimpse of bouncing breast will derail your “MILF and cougar” fantasies for at least a month.

In summation, Samurai Cop gives us an entirely unoriginal premise, plotline and finale; hideous music painfully unsuited for a bloodthirsty action-drama; a ludicrous-looking lead; professional mobsters who can’t so much as wing a cop in a five-on-one shootout; that junkfilm marvel, the highly integrated gang; and visual Viagra ruined by a middle-aged mammary…all wrapped up in a shiny pink bow of hysterically inept direction. How can anyone RESIST inserting him- or herself into this remarkable picture?

(I also got a big kick out of the incredible-they-left-it-like-so sequence when Z’dar fires a shotgun, ducks behind a tree, comes out shooting a pistol, ducks back behind the oak and again pops out, blasting a shotgun.)

Why, had I been asked to write a DVD cover blurb, I would have opined, “Samurai Cop is among the top five action films of the past twenty years…scripted by an Iranian…and on the Hollywood Royal Pictures roster.” I’d even go so far as to add “Well worth the price of a Netflix rental…assuming you’re taking the free trial offer.”

Author: Stately Wayne Manor


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Last Updated: 18 March, 2006