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Tagline: You Have the Right to Remain Silent … Dead Silent
Year: 1991 Runtime: 96 min
Director: Amir Shervan
Writer: Amir Shervan
Starring: Robert Z’Dar, Matt Hannon, Jannis Farley
Note: Samurai Cop is a tough movie, from a very rough time in American history—the 90s. This roughness manifests itself in some explicit language. It’s not drunken sailor level but enough to be offensive to innocent ears. We’re family friendly here at The Lost Highway and therefore have taken the liberty of substituting more appropriate language, [in brackets like this], to keep things PG.
On with the show.
First and foremost let me say Samurai Cop sets the bar for entertaining b-movies in a way not achieved since Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Doktor is nothing if not hyperbolic, and you’re right. This time I’m serious. Serious as waking up to find a pool of blood on your pillow. And you’re in the middle of downtown’s main square. And you’re stark naked. Yeah. Samurai Cop is that good. I mean bad. Whatever.
Here’s the one-sentence pitch: Miami Vice meets Miami Connection set in Los Angeles.
Not sure exactly what that means, where here’s the long and long of it:
[Warning: Because Samurai Cop is so AWE-some This Review is One TL;DR Spoiler]
The movie opens with a Katana gang strategy meeting. Nothing gets an audience excited like a gang working on their mission statement. It grounds the movie in the staleness of the everyday. Everyone can relate to the dreaded Monday Morning Meeting, right? Filmmakers would later learn that it’s gritty reality that really gets audiences’ juices flowing, but we’re talking 1991 here. Having guys who look like they were picked up at Stop n Go passing around a Mad Dog 20/20 discus how to grow their gang’s brand was edge-of-your-seat story-telling.
According to the minutes, the Katanas need to befriend other gangs, except the Japanese. It’s war on the Japanese. So says Fujiyama, Katana leader. It’s heart-breaking. Self-hating Japanese. They’re their own worst enemies.
First item on their agenda is have another meeting. This time with the Chinese. Fujiyama sends his best man, Z’Dar-san on this delicate diplomatic mission. Mr. Lee, the Chinese leader, decides is no good. Z’Dar-san and minions kill the fool. If the Katanas can’t have you as their friend, no one will.
But enough of that, jump cut to: our heroes, Samurai Joe and Frank the Black Guy. Samurai is a highly trained martial artist, fluent in Japanese, and has a man mane that makes first season Full House star John Stamos look like Sir Patrick Stewart. Frank is black.
They’re cops, i.e. a Value Brand X version Crockett and Tubbs, but less creepy. Frank brought Samurai to help bust the Katana gang. Or is it Samurai is there because he has some information on a Katana gang drug deal? It’s confusing. Regardless, Samurai is in from San Diego. Is that important? Not really. Samurai Cop is chocked full of not important exposition.
The drug deal is going down at the marina. Frank calls in helicopter support for production value, and to help tail the Katana’s blue van. And watch the boat in the marina. Luckily Whirlybird Wench Peggy is on duty. She has eyes that move independent of one another like a chameleon, which is great in this situation. Not so much at parties. At parties she just freaks people out. Because there’s some confusion about where the cocaine is, in the boat or in van, Frank wants her to watch the boat, Samurai the van.
In the resulting confusion, the sale is made. This segues nicely into the need for a pathetic chase scene. Pathetic in that the footage is sped up to give the illusion the cars are moving faster than 10 mph. Moreover, the villians can’t hit Samurai and Frank’s car, with a shotgun, out the wide open back of the van, despite there being less than a car length between them. All the while Samurai’s coaching Frank, “Shoot. Shoot. Shoot him.” Add awesome coach to Samurai’s impressive skill set above because, sigh, it works.
Then the van comes to a soft stop by driving into a dirt pile and explodes. Because.
Having accomplished something, Samurai and Officer Peggy Harlot do celebration Hootchie-Kootchie Lick-em Yum-Yums.
Note: I’m not being misogynistic with the name calling. I’m trying to capture the Shervan’s portrayal of his female characters which is informed by his understanding of women which stopped when he was 13. Peggy is a one dimensional nymphomaniac wrapped in a sexual harassment joke. And she shows her ta-tas. Te he he!
Back at Katana HQ, Fujiyama is pissed. He orders Z’Dar-san to behead the captured Katana thug and place the head on his piano. That’ll show him. Or something.
At the hospital, the hood’s room is exactly next door to the dentist office. This raises a question: what kind of government funded halfway hospital is this? Anyway, Samurai and Frank want to question their suspect but can’t because his back was badly burned in the ‘splosion. Needless to say, his lips won’t work for a couple months.
There’s some prepubescent flirting with a nurse after which Samurai instructs the guard to only allow doctors and nurses into room. So when Ginger, Z’Dar-san’s main squeeze and all around evil gal, comes disguised as a cleaning crew person to change the garbage, wheeling in a big, covered cart, she’s allowed right in. Some people are so weak minded not even Jedi Mind Tricks are necessary. A completely convincing decapitation ensues, which turns into a lame chase through the hospital. Z’Dar-san and Ginger escape through the back exit, which is an apartment complex. Add a farmer’s market, tax assistance, and furniture and tire sales to this hospital and you’d have a ghetto swap meet.
Enter Captain Oscar Grouch. Samurai and Frank get the business from their uptight commanding officer. “Grumble, grumble, grumble. Dead bodies piling up. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Loose cannon. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Yeah, like somebody stuck a big club up my [tail pipe] and it hurts. I’ve got to figure out a way to get it out of there.” Whoa! Not a proportionate escalation there, Captain.
Samurai and Frank extract themselves to follow up a lead at the Blue Lagoon. Fujiyama is meeting with his lawyer and seducing Chickie, the young, blonde daughter of the owner of the restaurant. There’s some apathetic looks and then Samurai erupts with a mind numbing speech about selling destruction to the children. He’s gonna put a stop to it by putting Fujiyama and the Katanas in the ground. To put a point on it he concludes with a little flirting with Chickie.
Oooo. Burn, Fujiyama. Burn!
Z’Dar-san’s doesn’t allow that insult to to pass quietly. He sends in the goons for some poorly choreographed slow-fighting with Samurai and Frank in the parking lot. One goon grabs a katana from a random Datsun, failing to understand this is a gun fight. Frank guns him down as a lesson. Samurai seizes the opportunity to add some more production value by severing another goon’s arm. Z’Dar-san, following the “Code of Silence,” kills all the fallen goons to keep them from talking.
Later, back at the Blue Lagoon, Samurai puts on the Old Spice charm. Lion Head, Girlie’s magical wall ornamentation is not impressed. Lion Head grants Girlie the power of chastity +3 against cheesy pickup lines. This allows her to make her saving throws verses Samurai’s charms. What’s more, she has to go to church, so…
Maybe next time, Samurai.
Before Samurai can even make it to the front door some punks stop him for more poorly choreographed slow-fighting. Samurai takes them out with a couple hi-ya chops. Steven Hawkins could’ve taken them, but a fight scene’s a fight scene, amirite? One punks runs, but after a stilted Horror Ingenue Trip and Fall, Samurai catches him. A twist of the arm and he’s wagging his tongue prettier than a $3 prostitute.
Samurai learns that Okamura, Fujiyama’s number 2, hired the assassins to kill him. If he and Frank catch Okamura they can bring down Fujiyama. Why can’t they do so for Z’Dar-san sending in the boys to kill them in the Blue Lagoon’s parking lot? Again, because.
At Okamura’s house Police Hooker Peggy throws herself at everyone present. Seriously, it’s anything that moves with her. This has nothing to do with anything of course, but it does pad out the runtime. Still, there’s a job to do, and no one has money for penicillin, so back to the action. Or whatever. Samurai and Frank bust in on Okamura’s Hootchie-Kootchie Lick-em Yum-Yums. A pulse slowing chase scene develops, followed by some Kung Fool fighting. Just when we think Okamura is down, his ruse works allowing him to disarm Frank. And Samurai has to kill Okamura which sends them back to the drawing board.
Uhm. Hello! Z’Dar-san killed several people, and attempted murder of police officers.
Cut to a second Katana meeting. The topic this time is their police problem. They can’t kill the cops, that would obviously be connected to them. Solution: call in the New York bruisers to break Samurai and Frank’s legs. Why this is less likely to be traced back to them, when they haven’t been arrested for killing their own guys and attempted murder of police—
Okay, fine. You get it. There’s a huge plot hole. I’ll move on. I’m just saying. Doesn’t anyone pay attention?
The next scene is a real head scratcher. Samurai is at movie studio, specifically in the editing room. Not surprising there’s no explanation. No context. Nothing. My guess is Samurai’s watching dailies of the film so far. Enter the New York Bruisers. Cue another gimpy fight. The bruisers, like their LA couterparts, are terrible shots, even up close with shotguns. This is laughable because Samurai moves slower than trying to pass a bowel movement composed of six pounds of steak.
But enough of that, the movie needs some lurvin’. Cut to Z’Dar-san and Ginger doing Hootchie-Kootchie Lick-em Yum-Yums. If Okamura can get some strange why not number one Z’Dar-san? Sadly, like Okamura’s, his is interrupted. By a call from the boss. No time for tomfoolery. Fujiyama’s mullet may suggest there’s a party going on, but he is all bidness.
Now we’re at the Episcopal Church. Remember, Girlie couldn’t go on a date because she had church. Well, ever the smooth operator, and knowing Lions Head won’t be there to negatively affect his vibrations, Samurai catches her on the way out to her car. He uses the old, “I’ve got some police questions for you. They’re over here in my windowless van.” line.
Fujiyama’s man, who was there to pull the same ambush, witnesses the whole affair and runs home to tell on Samurai. All bets are off. Fujiyama wants Samurai dead.
At Samurai’s house we learn what Shervan considers a little romantic lunch: a stolen neighbor’s pet chicken, killed, de-feathered, and fried, a bag of wine, and some wax fruit. This starts a Samarai’s Gonna Get Some and The Bad Guys Are Closing In montage:
- Z’Dar-san and hoodlums start at Sargent One-Line’s house to get Samurai’s address. No good. They kill Sargent One-Line and his wife. Z’Dar-san and gang split into two teams. One for Frank. The other for Pegboard Peggy.
- Meanwhile, hot speedo action on the beach with Samurai and Girlie.
- Hoodlums at Franks threaten to cut off his “black gift”. Frank’s too smooth for all that jive. Besides, someone’s got to warn Samurai.
- Meanwhile, swimming in Samurai’s pool. Girlie shows her diving skills that lost her last place in the Special Olympics 1990. Awe-struck, Samurai doesn’t hear his phone ringing.
- At Doozy Floozy’s, Trollop Peggy is frying up some ice cubes. She thwarts the hoodlums initial attacks on her. Goes for her gun, but they overpower her. They hold her down while Z’Dar-san pours hot grease on her bathing suit area. Knowing the Humped Strumpet’s proclivities, a deep-fried bologna curtain is worse than death, so he leaves her alive. Mostly. If you call a fried Pacman living.
- Meanwhile, Samurai sings happy birthday to Girlie in his speedo. Ugh. I don’t know which is worse, the singing or the speedo. (Be warned, seeing both will burn the accursed images into your mind. FOREVER!) This sets things up for Samurai’s second helping of Hootchie-Kootchie Lick-em Yum-Yums. Frank is good enough to wait postcoitus to call back.
Z’Dar-san and hoodlums show up just as Frank warns Samurai. Samurai and Girlie try to escape out the back window, only to be chased around the house Yakety Sax style. When all looks lost, Samurai gets the bright idea to go back inside, wait a moment, and then leave out the front. Samurai’s sweet Honda is in the driveway. Duh! They jump in and zoom off to safety.
Samurai drops Girlie off at the Blue Lagoon. Girlie’s mom has been worried sick about her. Girlie always comes straight home after church. And Mr. Fujiyama has been looking for her. How careless of Girlie. What about all the things Fujiyama’s done to help them out. But Girlie doesn’t care, the ungrateful jezebel. She’s in LURV. With Samurai!
Fujiyama was behind the door. He overheard. Duhn Duhn Duhn!
Samurai and Frank return to Captain Oscar Grouch for a final counsel. “Grumble, grumble, grumble. Lose my job. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Breathing down my neck. Grumble, grumble grumble. All I care about is getting Fujiyama. Go on a killing spree. Burn his house into a blood bath. When it’s done we’ll all turn in our badges.”
Wait. What? Seriously?
At Fujiyama’s. Seriously. Can you guess what happens? Can’t shoot gun fight. Where does Fujiyama find these guys? As a last defense, Fujiyama uses Girlie as human shield. Samurai and Frank disarm and Fujiyama shoots Frank. He villain monologues before shooting Samurai, which gives Frank time to get his gun and shoot Fujiyama first.
But wait a minute. He shot Frank. We saw him fall. Well, yes and no. Sadly, this is the only time a bad guy’s bullet hits the mark, but, wait for it, Frank was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Insert Price Is Right Fail Dramatic Sting.
Finally, the final boss fight. Z’Dar-san vs Samurai. Z’Dar-san drives up in his Suzuki Samurai. Shervan just couldn’t help himself. There’s a long, dark walk of shame as Samurai and Z’Dar-san show off their Star Wars Kid style, that is, they flail their katanas around destroying the landscaping and a passing pigeon. Samurai wins, natch. As Samurai is about to finish Z’Dar-san off Frank stops him. “No, Samurai. Your a cop.”
‘Cos killing him would be wrong. Never mind the sponsored killing spree you were both just partaking of.
One final Sexy Sexy Speedo moment with Samurai and Girlie before fading to black.
This movie is the quintessential “so bad it’s good” movie. It is a must see for any MYSTie type, and will even go over well with those who are not necessarily fans of b-movies. I cannot stress it hard enough that you run to your favorite DVD seller and get your copy. AND, better still, according to Cinema Epoch, Samurai Cop is going on the Midnight Movie Circuit, so look for it in an art house theater near, or far, from you starting May 31, 2015.
Watch the trailer for “Samurai Cop”