Festival Review: Samurai Cop (1989)

samurai cop

Seen: At the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, as part of the Boston Underground Film Festival.

Wow, you guys. Just wow. So BUFF does this thing where they unearth tremendous 80s schlock to include with their newer genre offerings, and because of them Cambridge received the gift of Samurai Cop last week. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, really, as I reflect on it. With production values cheaper than my rent and almost as many unnecessary sex scenes as The Room, the film follows titular police officer Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) as he half-heartedly tries to cut down the yakuza dealing in Los Angeles. He supposedly trained in Japan for several years, though he seems unable to even pronounce simple Japanese names, but that’s why they call him Samurai. Or something. Most of the time he just sleeps with some busty blondes and chills with his hilarious partner Frank (Mark Frazer). Over the course of their day they’ll happen upon some bad guys and something resembling an action sequence will ensue.

Ah jeez, where to begin. For one thing it appears that about half of the movie was re-shot with a shittier camera, in different locations, and after Matt Hannon had cut his hair, resulting in a jarringly hilarious number of shots where Joe is wearing an obvious (and bouncy!) woman’s wig and the scenery changes willy-nilly. And while endlessly funny to me, that’s just a minor part of Samurai Cop‘s ridiculousness! The dialogue is full of over the top innuendo, stilted threats, and a couple of bizarre racial jokes, while the actors shout or over-enunciate every line. There is a plethora of goofy faces (including Robert Z’Dar’s!) and goofier haircuts, and the threadbare plot hinges on the script’s infantile understanding of Japanese culture. To top it all off, this movie is GORY. Like, heads and limbs are chopped off and stuff.

Sometimes the film is almost too bad to actually be enjoyable, trudging through all the weirdly extended sex scenes and a romantic subplot popping up halfway in that involves church-going and long walks on the beach. Luckily the audacity of Matt Hannon’s awful acting (and uncanny resemblance to a hyper-tanned Sylvester Stallone) and, well, everything’s general wackiness make for a pretty damned entertaining experience. And seriously, Mark Frazer as Joe’s partner is the best! His reaction shots are AMAZING and also at one point he gets NAKED. But no butts, sadly. Just boobs. Anyway. Samurai Cop: Newest addition to my ever-expanding treasury of awesome bad movies. I’m so grateful that the 80s will always have more to offer me- I don’t believe I will ever see every great movie made during that decade because somehow its production is never-ending!

As a movie: 1.5/5
As entertainment: 4/5

Pair This Movie With: All the boobs and gore and 80s haircuts had me reminiscing about Hard Ticket to Hawaii, which has the added bonus of a mutant snake. Or you could do a Bad Cop/Good Cop double feature with Samurai Cop and RoboCop!

PS Oh man and maybe actually the best part of this screening was that I got to see the newest short from Astron-6, Bio-Cop!!! It was a truly awesome surprise and of course equally gross and hilarious and my gosh, I just love those guys. They’re so great.

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