Joe "Samurai Cop" Marshall
Played by Matt Hannon (Credited as Matthew Keredas in the sequel)
- Informed Ability: We're told that the protagonist speaks fluent Japanese, but he never speaks a word of it and seems to struggle with pronouncing Japanese names.
- Invincible Hero: So much. He never loses a single fight in the entire film, or even takes any serious injuries. It's continued on in the sequel.
- The Lost Lenore: Jennifer.
- Mr. Fanservice: Yes◊ sir indeed. He wears a black thong featured in a few scenes in the movie (including a beach scene) and promotional shots, and the man sports amazingly good looks even well into the sequel made 25 years later!◊
- Police are Useless: Averted, as Joe basically does absolutely everything except proper police work. This includes: having sex with virtually all of his female coworkers, never filling out any paperwork after being involved in half a dozen shootouts or chopping a guy's arm off, and going to stalk and flirt with a critical witness in this case at her church.
- Pseudonym: In the sequel, Frank discovers him under the name Yetsuhiro Morakawa.
Played by Mark Frazer
- Black Best Friend: To Joe, of course.
- By-the-Book Cop: Revealed to be this in the sequel. Following Jennifer's death in 1991, Frank refused to help out Joe as the process would go against his methods as a textbook, model cop.
- Combat Pragmatist: With the exception of Yamashita, any guy trying to attack Joe with a katana gets shot by Frank before he can even get close. In fact, Frank gets a surprising number of kills by just raising his gun and actually aiming (unlike everyone else in the movie). He's also the only person in the movie who thought of wearing a Bulletproof Vest.
- Disney Death: Frank is shot by Fujiyama and collapses, but it turns out he was wearing a bullet-proof vest under his clothing. He quickly rises again and shoots Fujiyama dead.
- Pungeon Master: After he and Joe pass a fence with Frank going under while Joe went over.Joe: "Why'd you go under?"Frank: "'Cause I'm an undercover cop."
- Soul Brotha: He's as cool as any crimefighting partner a guy could ask for.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: You'd never know how tall he is though, since he's always filmed from the neck up.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: The same scene in which a mook threatens to castrate his "gift." His black "gift."
Played by Robert Z'Dar
- Bad Boss: Not the boss, but in an attempt to kill Joe and Frank, he shoots up his henchmen, killing them all. He fails miserably in getting them.
- Beard of Evil: He's in the Katana Clan, after all.
- Cruel Mercy: Serves one up to Peggy.
- The Dragon: To Fujiyama.
- Dragon Their Feet: Yamashita is Marshall's final opponent, with Fujiyama going down surprisingly easily one scene before.
- Fake Ethnicity: Played by the very, very white Robert Z'Dar. Who doesn't even remember to squint most of the time.
- Professional Killer: He's a very crafty assassin. Laundry baskets are not beyond his thinking.
- Seppuku: After Yamashita is defeated by Joe in a duel, he guts himself with a knife.
- Sword Fight: After most of the mooks run out, Yamashita challenges Joe into a final fight with katanas.
Played by Janis Farley, Kayden Kross in the sequel)
- Killed Off for Real: Killed by a troubled teen in the beginning of the second film. It turns out to be Linton Kitano, her brother. It also turns out she's not dead.
- Ms. Fanservice: Indeed◊, notably during a beach scene in the movie and promotional material where she dons a black bikini. Turned Up to Eleven in the sequel.
- Secret Identity: After all these years, turns Jennifer is actually Milena Roberts, faking her death as "Jennifer" in order to provoke Joe into killing the other members of the Katana Clan. Litano is her brother.
Played by Cranston Komuro
- Amoral Attorney: He has a lawyer in his clan for...some reason.
- Asshole Victim: Shoots Frank dead, but Frank's revealed to alive all this time (wearing a bulletproof vest), and quickly shoots and kills Fujiyama.
- Back from the Dead: He somehow comes back to life in the sequel, hellbent on destroying the Samurai Cop for good.
- Big Bad: The leader of Katana.
- Cool Shades: How he's first introduced...taken away in the next shot since the lens reflected the film crew.
- Dies Wide Open: After Frank gets one over on him in the first film.
- Large Ham: Hammy as hell.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Dies again (and rather abruptly) by Joe in the sequel.
Played by Gerald Okamura
- Mr. Fanservice: Okamura counts, in the beginning of one particular scene in the movie.
- The Reveal: While on chase, he carries a briefcase that carries important secrets. A small gun with two bullets.
- Super Window Jump: Does this in order to get away from his pursuers in one scene.
Played by Melissa Moore
- All Women Are Lustful: Nearly everytime she talks to someone, it's gonna get sexual. Also has sex with Joe right after they have an actual conversation with in her in the helicopter and him on ground level.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never see Peggy again after the scene where the Katana thugs torture her by pouring hot grease on her. She makes a return in the sequel though, alive and well.
Played by Bai Ling
Played by Tommy Wiseau
Played by Dale Cummings