Although we covered the Room recently with our book review of the Disaster Artist, we’re not sure it can hold the claim of Best Bad Movie Ever Made. Why? There is some semblance of coherence in the script, just about, which is something Samurai Cop from 1991 most certainly does not have. To put it mildly, this idiotic production is filled with so many bizarre and ridiculous errors it makes it a joy to behold.
An ultra-low-budget Lethal Weapon rip-off which didn’t even make it into cinemas, instead enduring the ignominy of going straight to VHS, it was plucked from obscurity thanks to the advent of the internet. Now it’s turned into a bad movie cult classic which spawned an equally bad sequel, so if you really what to know what’s going on here, brace yourself as this doesn’t get pretty.
The film is about two detectives, Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) and Frank Washington (Mark Frazer), who have to stop a ruthless Japanese drug gang in LA. Marshall is supposed to be an expert in martial arts (apt surname then, eh?) and be fluent in Japanese, but these claims aren’t backed up very well in the film. At all. In fact, Marshall largely comes across as a blockheaded moron who is sexist, hapless, and mentally unstable – such is the nature of the script.
Bad acting is the name of the game here, but director Amir Shervan also pulls out all the punches to deliver a spectacularly bizarre film. It’s shot, in its entirety, during the day as he couldn’t afford to film at night, but there are endless other strange things going on. It’s turned into a film buff’s heaven, frankly, spotting all of the continuity errors, but there’s one we particularly love.
One of the biggest discrepancies is Samurai Cop’s hairdo, which (without explanation) looks enormously different throughout the film. It took a long while for the truth to come out, but Hannon had been informed most of the shoot was done. So, he got a haircut. Shervan then called him back into the studio and was dismayed to find Samurai Cop now with short hair. The only solution, apparently, was to get a wig, which Hannon believed would work with shots from a distance.
The problem was, Shervan still had half the film left to shoot, so there are some really strange shifts from scene to scene where Hannon has real hair, and then a woman’s wig, but as everything is played so straight-faced this jarring shift becomes hilarious. The wig even comes off during one fight scene, but as Shervan insisted on only having one take per scene (presumably due to the low budget) all these weird errors are left in. But then you have inspired moments like this…
Okay then – this film is horrendous. Let’s not pretend otherwise. It’s atrociously sexist, it’s dumb, the script is disastrous, the acting is wooden, and yet it’s relentlessly captivating – bad films capture what an alternate reality could be like, one where people don’t function properly and a man’s hairdo can radically change from scene to scene without anyone batting an eyelid. If, like us, you revel in this type of thing, have got the Room under your belt, and need your next conquest, then Samurai Cop is for you!
Matt Hannon Interview
Due to the sudden success of the film, Samurai Cop star Matt Hannon has reappeared on the scene and gave a rather candid interview about the production to the popular Red Letter Media YouTube channel. Wouldn’t you know it? Hannon turns out to be super charming and self-deprecating – wonderful! It’s a great interview and features a manspread of the century from the Hannon legend, but when you’re that charming you can get away with it, eh?
In part two of the interview, Hannon revealed he had hoped the film would pave the way for other acting opportunities in action films. Sadly, it didn’t work out for him and for decades was left ashamed of Samurai Cop. Once the film was picked up online by an increasing army of fans, efforts were made to find Hannon who was, initially, dismayed by it all. To his credit, he’s now embraced it all and can laugh about the experience, which we think is a big credit to the man. Bravo, sir!
A sequel was Kickstarted online and Hannon agreed to take part in it all – Samurai Cop 2 was released in 2015 and met with slightly better reviews than the first effort. Bravo, everyone!