BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Ranking alongside The Room and Troll 2, Samurai Cop rounds out a trio of films so fucking bad that they are unyieldingly hilarious. You want to set the tone of a party right? Rent this bitch. The result of stitching together an action movie from a collection of single takes and poor dubbing is easily the best worst action movie in the history of American cinema.
The lack of direction in Samurai Cop is beyond hysterical. The actors - who I'm sure were probably frustrated - have no frame of reference. Point. Shoot. Go. Someone yell ACTION. The sets are noticeably different with each and every take. Locations change in the middle of a fight scene. The same room is used for multiple scenes in supposedly different locations. Wigs fly off. Drawn out sex scenes so uncomfortable you die inside. You name it and Samurai Cop is the guilty party and yet it all comes together to make something so unforgettably awful that you can’t help but cheer (and drink) yourself silly.
So, yes, God bless Samurai Cop. We need films as bad as this one to surface from time to time just as much as we need the really good Oscar-winning ones to remind us that film is transcendent. Directed, produced, and written by Amir Shervan (Killing American Style), the B-movie, while never released theatrically, has amassed quite the cult following. Its release on blu-ray by Cinema Epoch certainly helped to gather the swarm and bring about the sequel, too.
Fans go absolutely wild over the shit that transpires when Joe Marshall (a very eager Mat Hannon), a San Diego cop, and Frank Washington (Mark Frazer), of the LAPD, join forces to break the criminal stranglehold a Japanese gang (known as the Katana) has on Los Angeles. Full of quips and one-liners that go nowhere, their antics are tired but their performances are so entirely emptyheaded that you can't help but snicker. I mean, who can blame them? Their lines are hilariously awful. Take this one delivered by the samurai cop himself, “I feel like someone's stuck a big club up my ass. And it hurts. I gotta figure out a way to get it outta there.” Because it is delivered as poorly as it is written, we find ourselves in stitches time and time again.
And when our longhaired (note: the hair starts as the real thing and becomes a wig thanks to a misfortunate and poorly scheduled haircut) and deeply tanned (always bacon brown) samurai cop decides to hit on women – which he does quite often – the pickup lines are just as hilarious. One chick is offended by his lack of a bulge when she feels him up through his jeans. "Were you circumcized?," she asks, hinting that the doctor took too much away. Direct-to-video releases, back in the day, were often misses and this one is no different. It actually isn’t even aiming at anything, which makes this blatant Lethal Weapon rip-off so insanely entertaining.
Filmed in and around Los Angeles, Samurai Cop makes good use of its locations, yet is never really consistent with anything, which makes it brilliant in its own way. In some down and dirty fight sequences, it looks like years have passed in the visible spaces between each and every thrown punch by either Robert Z'Dar or Gerald Okamura, both playing the big, bad heavy in the film.
Blanks are shot. Nobody hits anything. In some cases, the natural lighting of the fight shifts between morning and dusk and then again between actual city and country locales. Mountains pop up in downtown Los Angeles and our hero – who is from San Diego – is later spotted driving a car with an Oregon license plate. Huh? Wha?
Samurai Cop was shot on a dime. Literally. The actors arrived in their own clothes. They drive their own cars. And, since nighttime shoots cost more, the film features solely daytime shoots. It’s mind-bending to even begin to consider how much of a fuck wasn’t given when the how and the where of this year long shoot was planned.
Everything is wrong about Samurai Cop and that makes it so insanely right. Few bad films can brag about that. Making bad films work takes a lot of blind dedication and, dare I suggest, talent. It's practically an art in and of itself.
Samurai Cop and its sequel are currently available on blu-ray for purchase thanks to the efforts of Cinema Epoch.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 96 mins
Director: Amir Shervan
Writer: Amir Shervan
Cast: Mathew Karedas, Mark Frazer, Robert Z'Dar
Genre: Action | Crime
Tagline: You Have the Right to Remain Silent ... Dead Silent.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I feel like someone's stuck a big club up my ass. And it hurts. I gotta figure out a way to get it outta there."
Theatrical Distributor: Cinema Epoch
Release Date: November 16, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: November 25, 2016
Synopsis: Joe Marshall and Frank Washington are two police detectives who must stop the ruthless activities of the Katana, a renegade Yakuza gang composed of violent and sadistic killers who want to lead the drug trade in Los Angeles.
Home Video Distributor: Cinema Epoch
Available on Blu-ray - November 25, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A, B
Handled by Cinema Epoch, the 1080p release of Samurai Cop doesn’t exactly pop with spellbinding color. The sole remaining print of the movie was discovered in a forgotten crate somewhere. Rumor has it that it was in a castle. It probably wasn’t, but that merely adds to its legendary appeal. Colors are strong and, with some dirt and debris noticeable, the film hits the orange hues of supple flesh in a manner that would make Donald Trump happy. Saturation levels are on point and black levels are never too demanding. There are some scratches in the print used for the transfer. The less than stellar 2.0 Dolby Digital track is problematic due to its hissing, but what did you possibly expect? It merely adds to the oddity of the movie.
There are three separate solo commentaries full of informal nuggets about the movie. Recorded by Matt Hannon, Mark Frazer, and 80s Picture House, the commentaries definitely do not disappoint.
Filmed in 2014, the interviews with Hannon and Frazer that accompany the release are often hysterical. The interviewers are hilarious and Hannon and Frazer, with nothing to lose, give their best thoughts on the longevity of the film and its c-minus influence. Score snippets are made available also. There is an 11 item still gallery and a theatrical trailer to round out the release.
- Hannon and Frazer Interview (8 min)
- Hannon Solo Interview (18 min)
- More Hannon Interview (14 min)
- Rob Schrab and Edwin A. Santos Interview (7 min)
- Music Score Excerpts (11 min)
- Samurai Cop 2 Photo Shoot (2 min)
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer