Written by: George Pacheco on November 24th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1988
Directors: Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
Writers: Lloyd Kaufman, Mitchell Dana, Eric Hattler, Tom Martinek, Rick Washburn
Cast: Carolyn Beauchamp, Sean Bowen, Rick Washburn, Patrick Weathers, Jessica Dublin, Joe Fleishaker
BluRay released: November 10th, 2015
Approximate running times: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
BluRay Release: Troma Entertainment
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $24.95
Sgt Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. was Troma Entertainment’s attempt at creating a film with a traditionally cohesive framework behind the sublimely ridiculous story of a tough N.Y.P.D. cop gone crime-fighting Kabuki superhero.
I hesitate to use the word “commercial” in lieu of the aforementioned description, because there’s nothing “commercial” about Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D.; another in a long line of what-the-fuck Troma films featuring a fun and instantly likable monster hero. Instead, Kabukiman plays more like a straight American cop/crime film with a comparatively higher budget to what Troma flicks are usually lent, giving it a vibe similar to the company’s flagship film, The Toxic Avenger.
Indeed, Kabukiman himself is probably the second most beloved Troma character to Toxie, with this film having achieved considerable cult fame since its original release back in 1990. So, has Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. held up since its original release? Yeah, actually, as there’s ton of fun to be had in this “serious” Troma movie following Kabukiman’s quest against the mystical “Evil One” for the safety of the universe!
Lead actor Rick Gianasi is likeable as Sgt. Harry Griswald, whose run in with thugs assassinating a Kabuki theater performance leads to his being passed the magical power to transform into the promised savior humanity, the chopstick throwing, high-flying and fist-fighting Kabuki warrior! Of course, there’s tons of the expected Troma lunacy here for fans, with bad taste, violence and gratuitous nudity all in check, making this a film viewers will either love or hate, depending on their tolerance for Troma.
There’s some nice footage of old school 42nd St in New York which shows up early in the film, which is nice, while the practical effects and make-up are up to Troma’s usually fun standard. The Evil One’s final transformation actually ups the ante a bit in terms of gloopy, extravagant make-up, giving off a vibe which wouldn’t have looked out of place on Lamberto Bava’s Demons series. There’s also some fun car crashes, explosions, tiger attacks and all of the lunacy one might expect from a Troma production.
This writer has always had a soft spot for Lloyd Kaufman and his crew of outsider cinematic misfits, with much of Troma’s “classic” output serving as the home video equivalent of fast food: not great for you, but oh so satisfying!
Troma’s Blu-Ray of Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. looks fine, but things could be better. The transfer honestly isn’t much better than an average DVD release, with solid, but unspectacular colors and serviceable sharpness. sound, however could be a lot better. There’s a noticeable hum which pops up at times, not to mention the fact that the track, in general, is quite hissy and unremarkable.
The extras department is solid, however, featuring a new, humorous intro from Kaufman, as well as a short but sweet interview with Gianasi, conducted at a convention in Florida. Kaufman also provides audio commentary for the film, offering both information and jokes, although there’s plenty of empty space and pauses, leaving the listener wishing there was a moderator or co-commentator to keep the conversation flowing.
There’s also a full episode of “Kabukiman’s Karaoke,” from Troma’s YouTube channel, as well as various other Tromatic extras, making this a nice buy for Troma fans, but probably not essential for those who already own the film on DVD.