Film Review: Samurai Cop (1991)

Also known as: Le Samurai de L.A. (Canada)
Release Date: November 1st, 1991
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Amir Shervan
Music by: Alan DerMarderosian
Cast: Robert Z’Dar, Mathew Karedas (billed as Matt Hannon), Mark Frazer, Gerald Okamura

Hollywood Royal Pictures, Demel International Corporation, Cinema Epoch, 96 Minutes


I got the pleasure of seeing Samurai Cop on the big screen courtesy of RiffTrax. While I have seen the film before, it’s been at least ten years and I needed a refresher. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see this incredible motion picture blasted onto a screen thirty feet tall? Sure, it was a direct-to-video movie in 1991 but this film deserves a presentation much larger than a 24 inch Curtis-Mathes tube television bought on lay-a-way in 1986!

The film stars Robert Z’Dar, the guy who played the title character in Maniac Cop and its sequels. He’s not the samurai cop though, he is an evil samurai out to kill the samurai cop played by Matt Hannon. This is actually one of my favorite Z’Dar roles of all-time and it is worth mentioning that Hannon is totally awesome, as well.

But it doesn’t stop there. Hannon’s cop partner is played by Mark Frazer, who gives some of the best facial reactions of any character from any film, ever. Hannon and Frazer also had a really good chemistry working within the buddy cop formula. It was like watching an infinitely more hilarious version of Riggs and Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon film series.

Other highlights were the crime boss Fuj Fujiyama played by Cranston Komuro and the gay Costa Rican waiter played by Joselito Rescober.

Also, the score is great. It sounds like music ripped from an old Nintendo game.

The film follows Joe, the samurai cop, as he comes to L.A. from San Diego in an effort to take down the evil Katana gang led by Fujiyama. That’s really all you need to know about the story. The rest of the film is full of action, violence, dismembered limbs and fantastic, bad ass yet comedic characters who all do a perfect job playing off of one another. This looked like a really fun film to be a part of.

While the movie isn’t necessarily categorized as a comedy, it is. It plays like a parody of the buddy cop films of the 1980s, even though it is also its own thing. It hits all the required aspects of those films and even throws in the popular foreign villain formula. In this case, the Japanese, who were some of the most popular villains in action films, at that time.

Samurai Cop is a non-stop romp of tough as nails, comical awesomeness. Is it a great masterpiece of a film? No. But you’ll never have this much fun watching The Shawshank Redemption.

Rating: 9/10