Tagline: You Have the Right to Remain Silent…Dead silent.
Director: Amir Shervan
Writer: Amir Shervan
Starring: Matthew Karedas, Mark Frazer, Robert Z’Dar, Janis Farley, Melissa Moore, Gerald Okamura, Cameron, Dale Cummings, Cranston Kamuro, Joselito Rescobar, Orlando Quijano, Reginald Williams
18 | 96 mins | Action
Samurai Cop is the movie Loaded Weapon 1 should have been.
It is so gloriously bad in its intricacies that spoof writers must have been fearing for their jobs, or at the very least taking notes. Some movies are so wonderfully irregular that it is impossible to convey their qualities in a way that befits them. Imagine an infant impulsively mashing the pieces of a jigsaw together, unaware that several of those pieces have become lodged up their nose, and you will get some indication of what I am trying to convey to you; the movie is a hodgepodge of exquisiteness.
Central to its accidental genius is actor Matthew Karedas, a harebrained Lothario with a Tarzan mane and a face like a young Courtney Cox. He plays ass-kicking womaniser Joe Marshall, a gormless musclehead who drives aimlessly around the set shouting ‘Get him!’ ‘Shoot him!’ Kill him!’ like an Outrun sidekick on a 16-bit arcade machine.
As you can probably guess, Joe has a token black partner named Frank Washington (Frazer), a cardboard brother who plays the sober yin to his partner’s raging yang. Karedas and Frazer are so inept in their roles that any attempt at humour falls flat on its face, while all serious dialogue descends into Frank Drebin territory; this is Riggs and Murtaugh in appearance alone.
But let’s get one thing straight, Samurai cop is more than just a couple of lousy actors. Firstly, there are a whole cast of lousy actors, with everyone from supporting roles to extras and even stuntmen failing gloriously at their tasks. For an action movie, I struggle to recall a single display of passable combat. Usually you would have one barely adequate leading man compensated by a whole host of high-kicking extras. Not here. In fact, for a man who is said to have learned the ways of the Samurai from the ‘masters of Japan’, Joe struggles to throw even the most basic of punches, while partner Frank wrestles with a series of goons like a drunk trying to fish out his pecker.
The plot of the movie is standard fare, and quickly becomes lost within the blood-soaked circus of cinematic faux pas. After teaming up with a police helicopter which never appears to leave the ground, Joe and Frank intercept the most conspicuous drug deal the LA sunshine has ever bared witness to, putting themselves in direct conflict with mullet-wearing, renegade Yakuza gang the Katana, who love nothing more than crying ‘Leave him alone!’ like scared children whenever their cohorts find themselves in trouble. This leads to a wonderfully inept fight sequence full of stuffed limbs, paint-coloured blood, firecracker explosives and actors struggling to put handcuffs on their co-stars. On top of that, there must be at least a minute of footage wasted on extras trying desperately to load their guns. I mean, I have seen kids swing bats more convincingly.
So inept is Joe as a martial artist that he spends most of the movie trying to put on an armlock, but what the hulking brute lacks in the fighting department he more than makes up for in the bedroom. There are at least three needlessly lengthy sex scenes on offer here, each of them playing out like an intimate soft porn sex guide, and there isn’t a single broad capable of resisting our bone-headed Lothario, who fires off lame one-liners as fillies slip on his oozing machismo in their droves.
When he beds the Katana leader’s carnal desire it is one bonk too many however, and henchman Yamashita (Z’Dar) goes on a vengeful rampage, bumping off a few token cops and scalding one of Joe’s other regular lays with boiling water. Earlier in the movie, Joe promises this same woman that she is the only one for him. By the time of her torture, he is busy rolling around with his latest conquest, a relative stranger who he will ultimately risk his life for.
Who knows, perhaps she will be the one to finally change him – or at least get him to change his underwear.
The movie plays out with a series of battles which never fail to startle in their ridiculousness. Whether its alerting your target through a glass door you can’t actually open, men accidentally tripping over one another during chases or backgrounds suddenly changing without explanation, there is much baloney for bad movie aficionados to chew on.
There is also the quite remarkable facial performance of supporting man Frazer, who with increasingly inappropriate slights of expression pushes the limits of ineptitude in a way you have to see to believe. In the end, it boils down to the most inauthentic duel of honour one is ever likely to experience. The sacred code of the samurai is sacred no more.
After being smuggled onto a hospital ward in a refuge trolley, henchman Yamashita creeps up on a burns victim before slicing off his head with a samurai sword. He then drops the severed nugget into a garbage bag that his smiling girlfriend is holding for him.
Most Absurd Moment
The entire movie is a cutting room massacre, with absolutely no continuity from one shot to the next. It is because of this that every interaction comes across as laughable, every car chase and fight sequence descending into comic caper farce. To add to the confusion, some shots are laboriously long, while others can be missed in the blink of an eye, and you often find one scene jumping inexplicably to the next as if whole frames are missing from the reel. It is this lack of basic cohesion, more than anything else, that leaves the viewer breathless. Whoever is responsible deserves a very special award.
Following the completion of the movie, Michael Karedas was called back to re-shoot several scenes. Since this was unplanned, the actor had already chopped off his luscious locks, a decision that resulted in numerous shots of him wearing one of the naffest, most blatant wigs in B-movie history.
Samurai Cop: the movie that keeps on giving.
Most Absurd Dialogue
After analysing a potential witness with first degree burns on his entire body, irrepressible sex nut Joe draws the attentions of the hospital nurse, and the two become entangled in a bout of straight-up flirting.
Nurse: Do you like what you see?
Joe: I love what I see.
Nurse: Would you like to touch what you see?
Joe: Yes. Yes I would.
Nurse: Would you like to go out with me?
Joe: Uh-huh! Yes I would.
Nurse: Would you like to fuck me?
Joe: (Talking into nurse’s stethoscope) Bingo!
It is impossible to sum up this movie in a single paragraph. Every scene is a complete and utter catastrophe, in spite of its baby-step attention to the action movie rule book. With its offbeat editing, stumbling dialogue and flaccid onscreen chemistry, Samurai Cop is an emerald in the golden chalice of bad movie genius. So soak up the cardboard characterisation, drink in the woefully inept humour and prepare yourself for the most hysterical 90 minutes of your movie-going life.
I promise you, you won’t regret it.
Cedric Smarts: Editor-in-Chief and Art Director
Science fiction author, horror enthusiast, scourge of plutocracy, shortlisted for the H. G. Wells Award, creator of vhsrevival.com
Likes: 80s poster art, Vangelis, classical liberalism, dystopian allegories, dissident political activism, Noam Chomsky, George Orwell, George Saunders, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut