Samurai Cop is a 1991 action film starring Matt Hannon, Robert Z'Dar, and Mark Frazer. It was written and directed by Amir Shervan.
When the fearsome crime syndicate known as the Katana surfaces in LA, the only man with any hope of stopping them is Joe Marshall (Hannon), also known as "Samurai" for his incredible martial arts skill and swordsmanship. With the help of his partner, the streetwise Frank Washington (Frazer), and their superior, the hardened Captain Kohmer (Dale Cummings), the duo traverses the criminal underbelly of LA to hunt down the Katana's leader, a man named Fujiyama (Cranston Komuro). However, before Joe can stop Fujiyama, he'll have to face his right-hand man, the monstrous Yamashita (Z'Dar), a hulking brute whose martial arts prowess matches Joe's own.
After a failed attempt to interest distributors at the American Film Festival in 1991, the movie was picked by a Polish distributor for unknown reasons, released overseas on VHS during a time the market was flooded with similar products, and promptly vanished without a trace until a mysterious clip of the infamous "Horny Nurse" scene was uploaded to YouTube in 2007 by user AkumuHau.
By the time the clip was uploaded, Amir Shervan had passed away of natural causes and both Matt Hannon and Mark Frazer had quit the business. While the Polish VHS was readily available, the film itself gave little information other than Z'Dar's involvement. It wasn't until 2010 when Gregory Hatanaka found a print stored in a vault in Los Angeles when a proper DVD was released with audio commentary from Joe Bob Briggs and an interview with Robert Z'Dar that some light was finally shed upon the mysterious film, although Matt Hannon and Mark Frazier were still nowhere to be found.
In late 2012, fans of the movie found that a Matt Hannon had passed away recently on IMDb, and thought it was the same Matt Hannon from the obscure film. A year later, when the proper DVD release was being screened at festivals, Mark Frazer reappeared and rumors of a possible sequel, helmed and directed by Hatanaka and starring Mark Frazier, began circulating. While at this point most questions had already been answered to most hardcore fans, several still remained surrounding Matt Hannon. Then in June 2014, star Matt Hannon miraculously announced that he was still alive amidst the evidence and rumors of his death in 2012.
Following Matt Hannon's announcement, interest for the sequel grew and Hannon was quickly cast as the star of the sequel. In the following weeks, in order to raise awareness for the Kickstarter campaign, Matt Hannon gave several interviews where most of the movie's biggest mysteries were finally solved.
Today, the film is a Cult Classic, known for its colorful cinematic style, and inspiring a music video. Despite it never getting a theatrical release in its initial run, nowadays it gets screenings in L.A., New York and other cities across the U.S. With enough support and love from the fans through Kickstarter and Indiegogo, a sequel was released in October 2015, called Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, which stars Matt Hannon (credited as Matthew Karedas in the movie) and Mark Frazer in their original roles, as well as some returning favorites Gerald Okamura, Cranston Komuro, and Melissa Moore. Janis Farley appears in archival footage of the first movie. Dale Cummings, the original police chief tragically passed away in 2005. Robert Z'Dar also tragically passed away before any of his scenes were shot while in production of Samurai Cop 2.
In 2017, Amazon pulled Samurai Cop 2 from their streaming service since they didn't like the nudity, so director Gregory Hanakata re-cut the film, removing the nudity and replacing it with Tommy Wiseau footage and weird and frantic camera movements. This version is called ''Revenge of the Samurai''◊.
Samurai Cop contains examples of the following tropes:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The katanas Joe and Yamashita use are pretty sharp. The former cuts off a mook's arm with one slash and the latter slices off a guy's head in less than 30 seconds.
- Artistic License – Law: Fujiyama is supposed to be a Villain with Good Publicity, but in one scene Joe explicitly says that he's "the number one most wanted criminal on the police list right now". The movie seems to be confusing 'alleged mob boss' with 'proven-guilty crook'.
- Big Bad: Fujiyama, the leader of Katana.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: The infamous scene where a hot nurse comes on to the hero for no apparent reason other than his evident manliness. However on getting a feel she decides he's not big enough for her, and walks off despite his black partner suggesting that he might well be.Joe Marshall: Just what would interest you—something the size of a jumbo jet?
- Buddy Cop Show: Joe and Frank's relationship is this in a nutshell and the film tries to feel like this, but all the brutality they cause makes it a little hard to swallow.
- Camp Gay: The Costa Rican waiter Joe and Frank talk to in one very particular (and peculiar) scene of the movie. He also makes a return in the sequel as well, playing a more zanier but pivotal role.
- 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.
- Covers Always Lie: The characters depicted on both the DVD release and the original Polish VHS covers are not in the film. In fact, it tries to make the film seem something like Maniac Cop, right down to giving Robert Z'Dar a top billing.
- Cowboy Cop: Joe and Frank, again. They tick off all the boxes: both are detectives, they shoot first and ask questions to the survivors (then shoot them), they heavily annoy Da Chief constantly, and only avoid getting fired because the Katana Gang absolutely needs to go.
- Da Chief: Captain Rohmer. It's a Buddy Cop Show, after all.
- Demanding Their Head: Fujiyama, the leader of the Japanese gang, orders to have one of his own men, who was a badly burned and hospitalized following a police chase, be executed and have his head displayed on a piano to remind all remaining gang members of their code of silence. His chief enforcer, Yamashita, obeys the order.Fujiyama: I want him dead! I want his head cut off and brought here! I want his head on this piano so that every man in my organization understands, once more, that no Katana gets captured alive or talks! Got that?Yamashita: I will bring you his head, and I will place it on your piano.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Most of the dialogue. Characters repeat lines to each other that they just said aloud or make Captain Obvious statements as if the audience can't tell what's going on.Fujiyama: So they call him Samurai!Yamashita: Yes. His real name is Joe Marshall. They call him Samurai.
- Didn't Think This Through: Joe and Frank go to arrest Okamura while he's making out with a woman. Joe shouts out that Okamura's under arrest, then starts struggling to open the sliding door that's keeping them from him, allowing Okamura to escape.Kevin: (as Joe) As soon as I— d-damn! "Open door first, then shot at bad guys"! I never learn!
- 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.
- The Dragon: Yamashita.
- Dragon Their Feet: Yamashita is Marshall's final opponent, with Fujiyama going down by Frank's bullet surprisingly easily one scene before.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: A van chased by the main duo hits a mound of gravel and explodes.
- Eye Scream: During the final battle, Joe goes for Yamashita's eyes with both thumbs.
- Female Gaze: During the scene where Joe leads Jennifer to bed, the movie cuts from a zoom-in shot of Jennifer's ass to a zoom-out shot of Joe's ass.
- Filler: The drawn-out sex scenes throughout the film are completely necessary for the film's plot.
- Flynning: Most of the final battle. It's especially noticeable because katanas are NOT made for blade-on-blade clashes (in fact, a close shot on one of the katanas in one scene reveals the blade is practically ruined).
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: While Joe and Frank rack up dozens of gun kills across the film, not a single enemy bullet even comes close to scratching them, even when the mooks are already aiming and prepared for the cops. The only exception turns out to be a Disney Death.
- 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: Joe Marshall, so much. He never loses a single fight in the entire film, or even takes any serious injuries.
- Katanas Are Just Better: The Katana Gang clearly thinks this is the case, using it in assassinations and arming their mooks with them. It doesn't usually help them.
- Kick the Dog: Yamashita ordering one cop's wife raped and torturing a different cop with boiling oil.
- Leave the Camera Running: For example, in the scene after the police captain yells to get everyone out of his office, he pauses for a few seconds and then sits laughing.
- Male Gaze: The movie gives us some slow-moving close-ups of Peggy and Jennifer's asses.
- Man on Fire: After the Katana members' van explodes, its driver runs out ablaze. Joe and Frank then rush in to put out the flames.
- Mr. Fanservice: Samurai◊ Cop himself. 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!◊ Okamura counts for this as well, in the beginning of one particular scene in the movie.
- Ms. Fanservice: Jennifer◊, notably during a beach scene in the movie and promotional material where she dons a black bikini with a thong.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: There are two instances of mooks trying to challenge Joe with katanas, only to be unceremoniously shot by Frank.
- Open Heart Dentistry: Unintentionally implied by the film, as the burned suspect arrested by Joe and Frank is brought to a medical facility... that the film tries to pretend is a hospital, but it's readily apparent that it's a dentist's office. The prolonged "horny nurse" scene is set in front of the room where the suspect is kept, and the placard shows it belongs to a dentist.
- Police Are Useless: Where to even start with this one?
Bill: He is? Why the hell didn't you arrest him then?
- The entire "conflict" of this movie is the LAPD not being able to arrest the Katana Gang due to lack of evidence, with Joe and Frank getting yelled at for not being able to bring in (living) suspects to interrogate. This, despite the fact that they get involved in about half a dozen different shootouts with this gang. Also, their #2 guy, Yamashita, blows up Frank's car with a grenade in broad daylight in a restaurant parking lot after visibly sending several goons to murder them.
- 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.
- Bill Corbett of RiffTrax asks a good question after Joe asks Jennifer, "Did you know that Fujiyama is the number-one wanted criminal on the police list right now?"
- Police Brutality: Joe and Frank's first response to anything remotely threatening to them is deadly force. Their attempt to stop a drug deal sees them outright shoot and kill 4 men without ever trying to make the vehicle pull over, and the remaining survivor got second-to-third degree burns because the cops made their car explode. The rest of the film sees them do increasingly violent acts as the Katana Gang tries to kill them.
- Captain Rohmer sanctions the murder of every remaining Katana Gang member. Pretty sure they'd be heading to prison for multiple premeditated homicides...
- The Promised Land: Samurai Cop warns Fujiyama that America is indeed the land of opportunity, but for honest businessman, not death merchants.
- Running Gag: Frank's constant jokes about his "blackness down there", which culminates in his dick almost getting cut off.
- Same Language Dub: Because Shervan ran out of money mid-filming, when production resumed he decided not to use a boom mic. Matt Hannon and Mark Frazier looped their lines, and Amir himself looped almost every other character.
- Seppuku: After Yamashita is defeated by Joe in a duel, he guts himself with a knife.
- Shirtless Scene: Almost every major character, both male and female, has at least one of these.
- Sword Fight: After most of the mooks run out, Yamashita challenges Joe into a final fight with katanas.
- Vice City: Heavily implied, what with Los Angeles' apparently steady population of drug-running, heavily-armed criminals.
- 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.
The Sequel contains examples of the following tropes:
- Brother–Sister Incest: Jennifer/Milena and Lintano share a prolonged open-mouth kiss after Joe leaves them in the Complex.
- Cyberpunk: Government and law enforcement are now subservient to an oligarchy of crime syndicates and mega corps who control the world. The neon-infused cinematography and production design follows suit.
- Denser and Wackier: Laughably poor filmmaking aside, the first film followed a fairly straightforward Cop Show plot, with the leads taking down a foreign, but otherwise conventional, crime syndicate. Here, the crime syndicate is now one of several monolithic evil corporations headquartered in secret, high-tech underground complexes guarded by a seemingly endless army of cyberpunk and Anime-inspired henchmen armed with advanced sci-fi technology.
- Gratuitous Japanese: Japanese is clearly not the cast's first (or even second) language, and it can be quite painful to listen to for speakers with an even passing knowledge of the language. Lampshaded in one instance, where a character's incoherent faux-Japanese rambling and grunting is called out by Joe as just that.
- Helpful Hallucination: Several induced by Jennifer help lead Joe and Frank to the Complex.
- Lighter and Softer: The campy elements, now intentional, are pushed to the forefront, and much of the film is Played for Laughs.
- Re-Cut: Return of the Samurai Cop, a TV Cut of sorts done specifically for Amazon that removes all of the nudity.
- Rōnin: Joe is one, having entered self-imposed exile after the death of his wife and rejoining the police force only as a means to track her killer down. His "samurai" characteristics are played up much more here as well.
- Unexplained Recovery:
- Despite having been killed by Joe in the first film, Fujiyama is back leading the Katana gang alive as ever, with no indication as to how he survived.
- Peggy was apparently tortured to death by Yamashita and his men, but is back alive and operating a restaurant with her daughter.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Tommy Wiseau delivers his lines in his usual, bizarro Polish-French-Cajun dialect that barely resembles anything else in the film, much less the real world.