Although we covered The Room recently with our book review of The Disaster Artist, we’re not sure it’s the best bad movie ever. Why? There’s some semblance of coherence in the script—just about.
That’s something Samurai Cop (1991) most certainly doesn’t have. To put it mildly, this fantastically 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, it was plucked from obscurity thanks our old friend the internet. Now it’s turned into a bad movie cult classic. Hurray!
The film is about two detectives on the hunt to stop a ruthless Japanese drug gang in LA. Our heroes are Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) and Frank Washington (Mark Frazer).
Marshall is an “expert” in martial arts (apt surname then, eh?) and is also “fluent” in Japanese. The problem there is 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 (1929-2006) also pulled out all the punches to deliver a spectacularly uneven film.
It was shot in its entirety during daylight hours as he couldn’t afford lighting equipment for an evening shoot.
And the treasure trove of low-budget B flick facts continues long into the day, as there’s an endless amount of other strange occurrences.
And that’s why Samurai Cop has turned into a film buff’s heaven. Spotting all of the continuity errors, and quoting the strange dialogue, is great fun.
There’s one inconsistency we particularly love: Samurai Cop’s hairdo. Without explanation, there are highly distracting differences throughout the film.
It took a long while for the truth to come out. Believing shooting for the film to be complete, Hannon went and 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 long distance shots.
The problem was, Shervan still had a lot of the film left to shoot (kind of highlighting the communication problems going around on set).
The result is there are some really strange shifts from scene to scene where Hannon has real hair… and then a woman’s wig. But as the tone of the film is so straight-faced the jarring shift is awe-inspiring.
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 even that doesn’t accommodate for extraordinary moments like this.
Okay, this film is horrendous. Let’s not pretend otherwise. It’s sexist, astonishingly dumb, the script is disastrous, the acting is wooden, and it often makes no sense.
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.
And for the viewer, it’s an escapist treat that the most competent Hollywood productions can’t match.
Samurai Cop offers inexplicable silliness we can pour over and enjoy in a way lauded classics can’t match.
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 (and rather unexpected) success of the film, Samurai Cop star Matt Hannon emerged from obscurity to provide a candid interview to Red Letter Media.
Wouldn’t you know it? He 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!
Such is the interest in the first film, a sequel was Kickstarted online. Hannon agreed to reprise his role decades after first putting on his Joe Marshall wig.
Samurai Cop 2 was released in 2015 and met with slightly better reviews than the first effort. Bravo, everyone! Bravo.