When Japanese organized crime imbeds itself within Los Angeles, the police turn to one man to take down the deadly Yakuza — Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon), aka “The Samurai.” With his fearless swagger and rock-hard jaw, The Samurai tears a two-fisted hole through the mob and doesn’t stop until the job is done.
I think most avid film fans out there will agree with me when I say that there is something oddly endearing about watching movies that are so bad that they’re good. There is perhaps no example of this more famous than Tommy Wiseau’s amazing disasterpiece The Room, which is still being watched and laughed at all these years later.
They even made a movie about Wiseau and his ambitions called The Disaster Artist which proved to be immensely popular and was genuinely funny and inspiring. The Room has some of the worst storytelling, dialogue, acting, and editing you will ever find in a movie and is also loaded with mind-numbingly confusing scenes that you can’t help but giggle at.
But as amazingly funny as that film is, there is another movie out there that isn’t as widely known that I think should be for the exact same reasons. That movie is 1991’s Samurai Cop, directed by Amir Shervan. Right from the opening titles that sound exactly like a retro video game, it’ll be immediately clear to viewers that they are in for a doozy.
The storyline here is obviously nothing special and is incredibly generic, and if you watch this movie, you’ll probably recognize this within the first twenty minutes. But what’s potentially even worse than the story is all of the technical aspects that went into this film.
I could spend hours talking about the failures of the lighting, sound editing, and cinematography department. There are so many scenes here in which we flip-flop between scenes that have different exposure, different times of day, different sun position, etc. It’s genuinely fascinating to me and to many others how the director of Samurai Cop didn’t notice this while putting the film together.
The entire movie as a whole is made all the more hilarious when you learn that every single scene you watch in the finished cut of the movie was the first take. In fact, there are a number of scenes in here where you can tell clear as day that they only filmed the scene once and probably said “That’ll do”.
And why does lead actor Matt Hannon’s wig have to be so apparent and in your face? What happened was Hannon thought he was done filming the movie so he cut his naturally long hair, but later on, director Amir Shervan got in touch with him and asked him to do some reshoots but his hair was now extremely short, so that’s obviously a problem (although I am a little surprised they didn’t just roll with it since everything else in this movie makes no sense). So they had to get Hannon the closest wig they could get to match what his natural hair looked like, and yes, it looks hilariously bad.
It’s honestly the little things that make Samurai Cop such a hilarious movie. The dialogue in some of these scenes is atrociously bad and will make you shake your head but at the same time, you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll be in stitches.
This is absolutely not a movie that was supposed to be hilarious, though. This was supposed to be a genuinely gripping and funny buddy-cop crime drama akin to the Lethal Weapon franchise, but unlike Lethal Weapon, this movie did not tell a fun and entertaining story and it didn’t have a likable duo.
As funny as Matt Hannon is in this film, he isn’t supposed to be. And his character Joe Marshall is remarkably bad and underdeveloped. As soon as the film starts we understand that he has this sort of epic reputation as a badass, and people refer to him as the Samurai Cop. But why? The film never once explores his roots and it never shows us how he got his reputation.
But spending your hours thinking about this is just a waste of time because there are no answers behind anything in Samurai Cop. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it, because you absolutely should. Get some snacks, get a drink, and prepare to laugh at the absurdly hilarious Samurai Cop.
Overall Grade: F
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Distributed by: Demel International Corporation, Cinema Epoch
Release Date: November 30, 1991
Running Time: 96 minutes