Written by: George Pacheco on December 13th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1991
Director: Amir Shervan
Writer: Amir Shervan
Cast: Robert Z’Dar, Matt Hannon, Jannis Farley, Mark Frazer, Melissa Moore, Cameron, Gerald Okamura, Joselito Rescober, Dale Cummings, Cranston Komuro
BluRay released: November 25th, 2014
Approximate running times: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
BluRay Release: Cinema Epoch
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.98
The phrase “best worst movie” is one which could certainly apply to Samurai Cop, a hapless action film which simply must be seen to be believed.
Writer/director Amir Shervan was able to crank out a number of cheap ‘n fast action pictures during the late 80s and early 90s, all of which contained ludicrous dubbing, dubious editing and nonsensical dialog to create near mini-masterpieces of unintentional comedic gold.
Samurai Cop embodies this spirit in spades, detailing the “buddy cop” exploits of Joe “Samurai” Marshall and Frank Washington, two reckless and loose cannon cops who are out to curtail Asian gang violence and drug trafficking in the area. The plot is simple and familiar, right down to the inclusion of such action flick clichés as car chases, shoot outs and “the angry police chief,” as Joe and Frank make their way through the ranks of faceless and increasingly stupid gang members.
The titular “Samurai Cop” is played by Matt Hannon, a former Stallone bodyguard who steals the show here for a number of reasons. First off, the man’s lack of acting talent matters little when the dialog is this inane, yet Hannon still manages to make this film a hoot, based simply upon the amount of ridiculous faces he makes from his first appearance to the closing credits.
Secondly, the actor—for reasons known only to Hannon—apparently decided to get a severe haircut halfway during production, resulting in some glaring continuity issues. In other words, get ready for a whole lot of shots featuring Hannon in an ill-fitting black wig, for this is the level to which Samurai Cop sinks at the end of the day. It’s shameless but brilliantly fun.
Elsewhere, Hannon’s character is an irredeemable sleaze bag most of the time, schtuping anything with a heartbeat when he’s not icing bad guys, while his partner Washington has little else to do besides make faces and try and keep up with Joe Samurai. Maniac Cop heavy Robert Z’Dar plays the confusingly named Yamashita, a villainous henchman who’s out to do his worst to nearly every cop on the force, in order to make his way to Joe. This description pretty much just enables Z’Dar to do what he does best: chew the scenery and play it straight for all he’s worth. The film’s original poster art and VHS covers also do their best to cash in on Z’Dar’s Maniac Cop fame, as well.
Samurai Cop is so deeply flawed, that it cannot help but be entertaining. The film is similar to the recently unearthed Miami Connection in that the whole affair is so bizarre and far removed from what it’s attempting—indeed, it quickly becomes clear that Shervan and Co. were really trying to make a good movie here—that it skyrockets above and beyond “bad,” into “fucking awesome” territory.
Characters changing voices, bad guys dying multiple deaths on screen, gratuitous nudity and socially insensitive humor…it’s all here tied up with a bow with Samurai Cop, the bad movie lover’s dream.
Note: The Blu-Ray portion of this review was written by Michael Den Boer.
Samurai Cop comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer uses the same source that was used for Cinema Epoch’s DVD from earlier this summer. And the end result is easily the best this film has ever looked on home video. Also there no issues compression, DNR is kept in check and print debris while present it is never intrusive.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. The audio sounds clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 28 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a stills gallery, music score excerpts (11 minutes 15 seconds), Samurai Cop 2 – Photo-shoot (1 minute 54 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), interview with actor Matt Hannon (13 minutes 47 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), Red Letter Media’s interview with Matt Hannon (18 minutes 29 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), writer / director Rob Sehrab interviews producer Edwin A. Santos (7 minutes – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), “Remembrances” with Matt Hannon and Mark Frazier (7 minutes 23 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and three audio commentaries, the 1st one with Matt Hannon and moderator Marc Edward Heuck, the 2nd one with Mark Frazier and moderator Marc Edward Heuck and the 3rd one by 80’s Picture House.
Topics discussed in the interview with Matt Hannon include, how his daughter convinced him to make a YouTube video for fans of Samurai Cop to let them know he was still alive and well, how the fans enthusiasm for the film convinced him to embrace this film and his role in making it, the difficulty finding roles and what he has been up to since leaving acting behind, why the film has achieved it a cult status and working with screenwriter / director Amir Shervan.
Topics discussed in Red Letter Media’s interview with Matt Hannon include, his film debut American Revenge, how he meet Amir Shervan and how he subsequently got cast for Samurai Cop, initial thoughts after reading the screenplay for the first time, the dangers of stunt work on a low budget film, shooting on location and why the majority of the close-ups look oddly familiar, how he had to wear wig because he cut his hair and was called back for re-shoots and his thoughts about the final film when he was shown for the first time the finished film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Rob Sehrab and Edwin A. Santos include, thoughts on the Blu-Ray transfer, thoughts on the film and the audiences’ reaction to a recent theatrical showing of the film. At one point during this interview Sehrab gets annoyed at Santos who admits that he has never seen Samurai Cop.
The segment titled “Remembrances” with Matt Hannon and Mark Frazier is essentially a collection of onset stories from these two actors. The audio commentaries with Matt Hannon and Mark Frazier are both detailed tracks that leave no stone unturned in regards to the film Samurai Cop. Also both of these tracks contain plenty of information about other projects that both actors have worked on. The third audio commentary is basically a ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ style riff on the movie where the participants described what they are watching and laugh a lot what they are watching. Overall Cinema Epoch’s Blu-Ray debut is an exceptional release that takes full advantage of the format, highly recommended.