Samurai Cop (1989)
BRAD: I would say its hands-down our favorite So-Bad-it’s-Good schlock feature. There’s questionable logic, horrible acting as well as brilliant hamming it up from the actors. The editing is abysmally bad and the dialogue is legendarily atrocious. There’s cinematic sins and mistakes in almost every shot in the film, however it’s never boring and it’s a laugh riot.
Let’s start with the opening credit music. It’s as if it was ripped off an old Nintendo game from 1988.
BRIAN: Wait, aside from the Andy Sidaris Collection? I think I remarked last time we watched it that if Samurai Cop was directed by Andy it would be the greatest film ever produced. But yeah, Samurai Cop is amazing, and I really wouldn’t mind watching it over and over again. There are so many subtle, atrocious things to catch with each viewing, like the drug dealers waving goodbye to each other, or the stuntman who was on fire looking around after he was put out.
I remember laughing at the opening credits music the first time we watched it, then months later I saw that incredible video game spoof, and thought it was neat how they “Nintendo-ized” the music. But no, that was pretty much the actual music.
BRAD: Andy is on a different level really. Most people wouldn’t appreciate a Sidaris film but it’s no where as inept or terrible as Samurai Cop. But yes, if Andy directed Samurai Cop it would be the tits!
Then we meet Joe “Samurai” Marshall. The best worst action hero ever. He looks like Fabio first of all and the first time we see him, he’s wearing an obvious long maned wig which clearly doesn’t fit him. Plus a ball cap which doesn’t fit his character at all. He’s called Samurai for reasons unknown and he was brought in to help out LA’s terrible gang war between the Japanese Katana gang and other Asian gangs. My question is, is this common for other cops to be recruited or borrowed from other cities to assist cops in a big task like this? Seems odd. Odder still is that he fits in with his new token Black partner swimmingly and even commands him on missions. Only the police captain has issues with these two cops even though they’re getting something accomplished.
BRIAN: They call him Samurai because he knows the literal meaning of the exotic word “katana” and sort of how to use one ok I guess. Although the only thing remotely samurai he does before the climactic fight is throw a katana at a guy from 30 feet away and slice his arm clean off. But he’s a natural fit with his token black partner and his captain hates him solely for the reason that this movie was made in the ’80s. Also back then, it wasn’t a big deal to be nonchalant about racism toward Asians.
BRAD: Before this film the I only knew 3-5 Japanese words and Katana was ONE OF THEM!!
I don’t think he threw the sword at the guy because in the next shot he’s still holding it. Which of course makes the scene even more baffling since it was edited in such a way that they were really far apart, at least longer than the distance of a katana blade.
Speaking of being racist to Asians, how about that overly flamboyant homosexual Latino waiter? Or was he Filipino?
It also tried in an attempt of African-American racist humor in a few scenes too.
BRIAN: I know edamame means “Japanese soybean.”
Yeah it’s really hard to tell. It seems like he throws it because he’s nowhere near the dude but then it looks like he’s holding it. I can’t believe this movie would have an error like that.
I think he was from Costa Rica. His cousin was a cop.
Yeah there are at least two instances where they refer to Frank’s ass as being burned black. But it all pays off later on when the thugs break into Frank’s house and threaten to relieve him of his “black gift.” That line is all at once racist, baffling, hilarious, and amazing.
BRAD: Oh right he did say he was Costa Rican. And that his cousin was a cop. And that he likes cops.
Let’s talk more about the fight in the parking lot in the middle of the afternoon. In the previous scene it’s Fujiyama and his high-ranking guys like Yamashita and girlfriends. Joe and Frank harass them and in the next scene in the lot, Yamashita commands like 3-5 goons to attack Joe and Frank. Where did those guys come from?! Were they just waiting somewhere in the restaurant. If memory serves, the restaurant was pretty much empty when Joe and Frank came in.
Then the hilarious fight ensues and when it looks like Joe is kicking all the ass he can, Yamashita pulls out a sub-machine gun from his coat (how?! Was it there the whole time?!) and just fires randomly at cars and then turns the gun in his men to make sure their dead so they stay silent I guess. He gets Joe and Frank on the run and then pulls out a grenade from his jacket and blows up Frank’s town car! Again, was he always carrying that grenade…just in case?!?
BRIAN: I guess they were waiting in Fujiyama’s car? He probably didn’t even roll down the windows for them. Actually, that one guy got the katana (Japanese sword) from the back of a truck, so that must have been his truck. Or maybe they were just guys walking by and Yamashita offered them each $10 to beat the shit out of Joe and Frank.
You’re telling me you DON’T carry an uzi and a grenade at all times? What’s wrong with you?
Yamashita killed those men because of bushido (Japanese honor code). Why didn’t they all have guns and grenades? Seems like that would have ended it pretty quickly. Or, when Joe and Frank were just standing there talking about Frank’s charcoal black ass, Yamashita could have popped around the corner and shot them full of holes.
BRAD: Maybe that one guy got the Katana (Japanese sword) from some random guy’s car? How do we know it was his car? Maybe he happened upon a car that had a Katana (Japanese sword) in it. After all it was the late 80s.
If I lived in Camden, NJ, sure I’d carry a sub-machine gun and some explosives.
They also could’ve killed them when they were chatting it up with the homosexual Costa Rican waiter.
Remember the plush, stuffed lion head in the office of Fujiyama’s girlfriend? What the fuck was that about?
BRIAN: Good point, maybe there are katanas in the back of every car. But then again, nobody knew what a katana was until Joe came along and explained it.
That’s true. What were they doing during that long conversation with the waiter? Yamashita could’ve snuck up behind Joe and cut his throat with a steak knife.
Fujiyama means “Japanese lion.”
BRAD: It was a nice classy touch for Joe to stalk Fujiyama’s girlfriend outside church (really?) take her back to his place, cook for her, get her a birthday cake (“oh? It’s your birthday? Well happy birthday.”). Then moments later they are in bikinis swimming in the ocean; then the pool and off to screw. He just met her what…Yesterday?
BRIAN: To be fair, he did wear his bikini brief swim speedo, so screwing her was only a matter of time. I love that he makes it with two women in this movie and tries to make it with a third: the nurse who told him his dick was too small. Which reminds me of one of our favorite lines, when Joe is looking in the window at the bad guy screwing: “Looks like this is his last fuck…”
Let’s name all the samurai-like things Joe did in this movie:
1. Used samurai sword twice.
BRAD: It wasn’t his last fuck because they never let him and his woman start fucking. Cock-blockin’ Cops!
2. He defined Katana.
BRIAN: Yeah they should have let him go through with it. They didn’t have to be such jerks.
3. He was circumcised.
It’s weird, Fujiyama is supposed to be the head villain and the ruthless drug lord, but the big showdown and most of the conflict throughout was with Yamashita. Why didn’t they just make him the drug lord?
BRAD: Fujiyama probably wasn’t even born in JAPAN! Nor did he know any martial arts. He was just a business man.
Speaking of Yamashita, is it samurai code of conduct to torture a defenseless woman with bacon grease?
BRIAN: The Fujiyama character was pretty much completely unnecessary but they must have figured that they needed a Japanese villain in a movie called Samurai Cop and Robert Z’Dar couldn’t pass for Asian. But they still called him Yamashita…
Yes, they did it all the time in feudal Japan. Yeah she was a defenseless damsel, but she was a cop! How did she graduate the academy? She was useless!
BRAD: Maybe he’s half-Japanese. Born with a human Japanese mother and a Kaiju.
She’s the only one on the force who can fly a helicopter! Seriously, what was the point of having a helicopter in the beginning car chase?
BRIAN: So that bright blue van with the entirety of the Hollywood hills painted on the side could be easily spotted.
BRAD: But Joe and Frank were in close pursuit of the van the whole time! So close in fact that Joe had no time to swerve out of the way of the guy who fell out of the van and ran him over.
BRIAN: That was after they were at the dock, though. They needed help from the helpful helicopter (helpfulcopter) to spot a big blue van among the boats.
That’s what makes this movie so fantastic, the little, completely ludicrous touches like Joe running the guy over.
BRAD: And him telling his partner Frank to “Shoot! Shoot ’em!” while they’re being shot at in the car chase. I don’t know what Frank would’ve done if Joe didn’t tell him what to do.
BRIAN: He would’ve just sat there with the same look on his face that he had during the Joe/nurse scene.
BRAD: It’s actually a shame the guy who played Frank didn’t do much else. He was actually genuinely funny.
BRIAN: He had a gift. A black comedy gift.
To summarize, Samurai Cop is essentially a perfect Z-movie. If you like schlock, there’s absolutely no reason you wouldn’t love Samurai Cop. It’s got everything you could want: comedy, over the top violence, horrible acting, a ridiculous plot, campy villains, katanas, boobs, hilarious music, and awful direction. But it NEVER gets boring, which even some of the better schlock movies fall victim to. You’ll be laughing and in disbelief during the entire running time and never feel like you’re wasting your time. We couldn’t recommend Samurai Cop more highly.
Score (on a schlock curve): 10 Japanese swords (out of 10)