Anyone who was hitting their teens in the mid to late 90s will have stayed up late watching films on the then newly launched Channel 5. Whilst they’ve managed to show some incredibly popular films over the 20-odd years the channel has been in existence, there’s been a lot of turkeys too. Samurai Cop, from 1991, is exactly the sort of film I’d expect to have seen after the blockbuster film on Friday night (or was it Saturday night? I think they saved the Saturday 9 pm slot for Saturday Night Fever, the game show with Suggs, not the Travolta film, though its been a long, long time), but I’d not seen it before and it came up in conversation on one of my Discord channels very recently. After checking out both Netflix and Prime Video, I discovered it was on the latter, and after checking it was indeed the correct movie, I gave it a watch.
Do you know when a film is so bad, it’s good, such as many films starring one Nicholas Cage (not that all of his films are bad, but he’s made some right duffers that are listed to “must watch” purely because of his performances, also, this is normally where The Room would get a mention as a “so bad, it’s good” movie, but I’ve never seen that)? Well, this straddles that line very, very closely.
Let’s get this out of the way, I’m going to leave the notes I put down for this post as I watched Samurai Cop untouched, I think they offer an amusing insight into my thoughts on the film, then we’ll come back to the overall picture:
They really love cutting back to Frank making his “ooh” face
Oh, surprise soft porn!
The bad guys love giving off the “shifty eyes”, when they’re not doing that they’re doing the ol’ “crazy stare”
Nobody is acting! They’re just reading their lines
Why does it look like they’re not always in the same room
We see the back of Joe’s head an awful lot
The bad guy with the beard is putting in the most convincing performance
This makes the later Police Academy’s look like Oscar winners
This reminds me of that 90s Hulk Hogan TV vehicle that ITV used to show alongside Baywatch
Why are Joe and Okamura making pussycat scratching hands at each other?
Joe’s hair is amazing, though it often looks like a wig
Could his speedo’s be cut any higher? It looks like he’s wearing the same bikini bottoms as Jenifer
So, what is going on? Well, “Samurai” Joe Marshall has transferred from San Diego to LA in order to take down a Japanese gang known as “Katana”. That’s your entire plot. There’s no trying to find out who the ring leader is, or even trying to catch them committing a crime. At one stage, two members (the bearded guy mentioned above and his very attractive accomplice) sneak into a hospital in order to remove the hand of a witness, though it looked to me like they’d taken his head, anyway, I don’t recall it ever being mentioned again, I think it was just to show how “evil” this gang are. In one scene, Joe and his partner, Frank walk into a restaurant where it’s known the gang dine and Joe outright tells them “I’m a cop!”, and he’s there to take them down.
As they leave the restaurant, Bearded Guy sets his deputies on them (he’s not the gang leader btw, that roles given over to a pretty blatant “Asian” stereotype) in a hilarious fight which is ended when Bearded Guy throws a grenade under a car. Back at the precinct, Frank and Joe get their arses chewed by their boss who’s main priority doesn’t seem to be bringing the gang in but trying to not lose his pension. It’s like the director watched Lethal Weapon and made the lowest budget version of that he could, and I have to commend him, he’s made an absolutely hilarious 90-minute action film, even if that weren’t his intention.
There’s a bit of an obsession with Frank’s penis too. In one scene early on a nurse starts to come on to Joe, but then walks off saying she’s not interested as Joe’s penis is too small, Frank tries it on saying he’s well endowed. Later on in the film, two gang members break into Franks home whilst he’s in the shower, they’re there to find out Joe’s address, one grabs Franks penis (which, I think it’s worth mentioning, is out of shot) and tells him that if he doesn’t give them the address then he’ll cut off Franks “black gift”. I swear blind, I choked on my coffee. Before this we’d seen a few sexy scenes and lots of breasts (Joe’s are on show an awful lot), and whilst we don’t see below Franks belt, it’s still pretty explicitly shot and I didn’t see it coming. I’m not saying “oh my god, that shouldn’t be in there” by the way, it just came as a bit of a surprise (I imagine Frank was surprised too).
However, it’s Joe’s hair that is the star of the show. Its a proper, luscious mane of long black, shiny hair that brings out his tanned skin, though as I made a note of above, there are times that it looks a little too luscious and flowing and pretty much wig like, I’m convinced I saw it slip whilst he was fighting.
A quick Google suggests that Samurai Cop has gathered a bit of a cult following, I think I can see why, and in 2015 some of the gang got back together to make a sequel (which is also on Prime Video under the name “Revenge of the Samurai Cop (2017) which I’m now going to have to watch at some point.