Samurai Cop (1991) – He’s Telling All You Son of a Bitches

release date
November 30, 1991
RUN TIME
1h 36min
rated
Unrated
our score
9.5

SPOILER ALERT!

Samurai Cop (1991) is a wonderful example of “so bad it’s great” filmmaking. It’s the sort of bad movie where after watching, colors seem more vibrant, food tastes better, and full-blown synesthesia triggers inside of you allowing you to actually taste those more vibrant colors.

Or perhaps Samurai Cop has the opposite effect, instead instilling a sense of aphantasia, which is the inability to actively imagine anything. Aphantasia is also known as “Mind’s Eye Blindness” and after seeing the cacophany of this film, I don’t doubt that some people’s imaginations actively purged themselves.

Samurai Cop is a classic, but for all the wrong reasons. While watching this film you may experience what’s known as “soul cringe” and it’s exactly what it sounds like… and there’s a lot of it.

THE “PLOT”

As with most of the bad movies we review, “plot” is a pretty loose term, but Samurai Cop tries its best. Set in Los Angeles, a Japanese gang known as “The Katana” controls all the cocaine in the city. The LAPD has hit an impasse, unable to bring the gang to justice, so they bring in an outsider from the San Diego Police Department to help.

Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) is that man, and he goes by the nickname “Samurai” at the precinct. Joe’s been trained by Japanese masters and speaks fluent Japanese (although he never shows us, we just need to take everyone’s word for it) but looks like he was cast straight out of Gold’s Gym.

We’re thrown into the “action” quickly, as Joe and partner Frank Washington (Mark Frazier) get a hot tip leads to a failed cocaine bust. That’s okay, because immediately after the busted bust, an “intense” and “thrilling” car chase begins and it’s glory is hard to put into words.

The sequence has a shitload of “cheated” shots, as a the police helicopter circling overhead is clearly stationary in a parking lot somewhere while Joe drives his real car the same way I exagerattedly turn my controller and whole body as I steer. Joe continually ducks to avoid nonexistent bullets and the footage is sped up so much it looks like WWI footage. They blow the case when they kill everyone and set the driver on fire.

Written and directed by Amir Shervan, Samurai Cop reads less like a narrative and more like a bizarre wish-fulfilment. Apparently the film only got any traction fifteen years after it was made when a clip of a scene made its way to youtube in 2007. It’s a bizarre, surreal scene between Joe and a flirtatious nurse with the most cringey back and forth, see for yourself:

Samurai Cop in it’s entirety is more of the same. It’s chock full of terrible editing, inconsistent coloring, dropped sound, abysmal practical effects, wooden and stilted “acting” and the worst framing ever committed to film. The way Shervan filmed makes it absolutely clear that nobody was in the same room together.

There are constant cutaways to close up reaction shots of single actors delivering lines in an empty room. One of the most notorious things from the movie comes from the horny nurse scene, and it’s all of Frank’s terrible self-contained reaction shots:

He looks directly at the camera

Roughly 80% of Samurai Cop is poorly cropped frames of reaction shots. People talk at other characters but never to each other. There’s an incredible amount of waiting, as the actors take turns saying their lines and never actually “listen” to each other.

Fuj Fujiyama (Cranston Komuro) leads The Katana gang and sports the greatest evil mullet and stringy mustache.

An attempted bust meets with failure after a bizarre car chase leads to multiple deaths and the only witness burned and unable to testify. Katana boss Fuj Fujiyama orders the injured Katana member to be executed and his head displayed on a piano to remind all functioning Katana members of their code of silence.

Joe and his partner Frank confront the Katana at the Carlos’n Charlie’s restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and attempt to reprimand them into obeying the law. When that fails, Fujiyama’s right-hand man Yamashita wages war in the parking lot, executing his own men who fail to subdue Joe and Frank, thus maintaining the code of silence.

Joe then stalks Fujiyama’s girlfriend Jennifer and seduces her. They have sexual relations while several of his police comrades are tortured and killed by the Katana gang who are looking for him. Unable to contain his anger any longer, commanding officer Captain Roma sanctions an assassination of every single Katana gang member. Joe and Frank head to Fujiyama’s compound and gun down every living person and a final sword battle between Joe and Yamashita ends the Katanas’ reign of terror. To celebrate, Joe and Jennifer once again have sex.

OTHER NOTABLE MOMENTS

  • Peggy is one of the greater cinematic sexpots. Practically every time she’s on screen, she’s having sex, or talking about sex, or asking others around her for sex. She disappears from the film mysteriously after she’s tortured with boiling grease splashed across her body.
Samurai Cop
Insatiable Peggy
  • We also are “treated” to Peggy’s butthole. Actually we see a few different buttholes.
  • The early car chase was not fast enough so they just doubled the speed of the footage.
  • The people who fall from the moving van, fell at an extremely low velocity.
  • The Captain just says “fuck it” and orders the murder of every ninja gang member. Which is, like, super illegal.
  • Joe never does a single piece of paper-work, considering he murders people left and right, blows up cars, and chops off arms.
  • Frank is the only smart one, as he brings his gun to these swordfights and kills many ninjas:
  • The extensive, uncomfortable sex scenes are completely necessary for the film’s plot.
  • The director had to ADR a lot of the dialogue but could not get many of the actors to return. He instead dubbed many of the lines himself and warped it in post-production to try to make it sound different. His lack of ability to do this correctly resulted in ADR with a heavily robotic sound.
  • The cheapness of the practical and speciall effects elevates this film into another league.
  • Matt Hannon had cut his long hair because he thought filming was finished, only to have director Shervin call him up for additional shoots. You can see the terrible wig used to cover up the continuity error, and its egregious:


MEMORABLE QUOTES

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.

Capt. Rohmer

explaining exactly what we see

We’re told things that we’re just supposed to trust without question, like how Joe is described as being fluent in Japanese yet never actually speaks the language in the film. The closest we get is this little exchange:

What does “katana” mean?

Frank

It means “Japanese sword”

Samurai Cop

I don’t give a fuck! There’s only one thing in this world I want. I want you to find that motherfucking Japanese gangster! I want you to kill him and I want you to kill every one of his men! I want you to turn his house into a bloodbath! Don’t leave anybody alive! And when they’re all dead, you come back to me. And all three of us will turn our badges in… and say goodbye to it. We’ll be off this police force for good.

Capt. Rohmer

Establishing what is clearly a suicide pact

His real is Joe Marshall. They call him Samurai. He speaks fluent Japanese. He got his martial arts training from the masters in Japan and was brought over here from the police force in San Diego to fight us.

Yamashita

Giving us the ol’ expository info-dump

Samurai Cop (1991)
BUTTHOLES SHOWN ON SCREEN
3
TIMES ACTORS LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE CAMERA
5
CASUAL RACISM
5
'FORMAL' RACISM
7
UNCOMFORTABLE DIALOGUE
9
CRINGE FACTOR
10
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Positives
Hilarious
Entertaining all the way through
Negatives
Sound
Color
It's so insulting to your intelligence
9.5

Watch the trailer for Samurai Cop (1991)

 

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See Also
Little Nicky (2000) – The Road to Hell is Paved with Little Nicky DVDs