DVD Review: SAMURAI COP
 By Jonathan Stryker (Facebook); Jonathan Stryker (Twitter)

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Source: Jonathan Stryker (Facebook); Jonathan Stryker (Twitter)

Jul 15, 2013, 5:0 AM

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 killed. 

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 scene. 

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 to be.

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 include:

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 minutes. 

There are also stills galleries and an amusing fan trailer for the film. 

Click here to order the new special edition DVD from Amazon.com. 



 

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