Film Review: Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance (2015)

Release Date: October 9th, 2015
Directed by: Gregory Hatanaka
Written by: Rich Mallery, T.L. Young, Gregory Hatanaka
Music by: Toshiyuki Hiraoka
Cast: Mathew Karedas, Mark Frazer, Tommy Wiseau, Bai Ling, Kayden Kross, Lexi Belle, Laurene Landon, Gerald Okamura, Joe Estevez, Joselito Rescober

CineRidge Entertainment, Cinema Epoch, 93 Minutes

Review:

I finally got around to catching Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance. Since I recently saw the first film on the big screen, courtesy of RiffTrax Live, I felt that I needed to follow up that experience with the sequel. Sure, I am over a year late on seeing it but it doesn’t mean that my love for these characters isn’t immense.

The best thing about the first film, above all other great things, is the hilarious and natural camaraderie between buddy cops Joe Marshall (Mathew Karedas) and Frank Washington (Mark Frazer). In this film, it is even better. You feel as if these two buddies, who had not been together for over two decades in the film world and in the real world, were just glad to be back together. Age worked well for both men as characters and as actors. Their friendship feels truly authentic in Samurai Cop 2 and I’d just like to see these two guys together again, at some point, down the road.

Initially, Samurai Cop 2 starts out really strong. It kind of goes off the rails for me in the second half but it still entertains and it is a good 93 minute romp for those familiar with the first film. I don’t think that the picture will resonate as well to those who aren’t already fans of the first movie. Samurai Cop 2 is a big fan service project and it delivers in that regard. The downside, is that it puts fan service ahead of the movie itself. While this should stand alone, as its own film, it doesn’t and it also falls short of being the silly and lovable b-movie action classic that its predecessor is.

I don’t want to sound like I am talking trash here. I still really like Samurai Cop 2. I’m sure I will watch it again, more than once. It just doesn’t have the same sort of magic as the first picture. I think some of that has to do with being bogged down with too many actors that are hard to keep track of. While it is nice to see some of the old actors from the first reappear, there is a whole slew of other people that are wedged into this thing. However, I have to give mad props for the inclusion of Tommy Wiseau from The Room and Joe Estevez, the least known Estevez/Sheen, from a slew of really bad pictures.

Samurai Cop 2 doesn’t jump the shark because how can you in a film series like this? It just seems a bit out of sync with the original in style and tone. While this is a Kickstarter funded project, some parts of the film feel overproduced and overly stylized. The original movie wasn’t stylized deliberately, it was just a reflection of the time it was made in and the lack of budget the producers had. Samurai Cop 2 walks the line between trying to fall back to 1990 and trying to be overly futuristic.

All that being said, I still wouldn’t mind a Samurai Cop 3. To be honest, I could watch Karedas and Frazer team up anytime. And hell, I’d like to see Tommy Wiseau again because he is gold in everything that he does.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: Soultaker (1990)

Release Date: October 26th, 1990
Directed by: Michael Rissi
Written by: Vivian Schilling, Eric Parkinson
Music by: Jon McCallum
Cast: Joe Estevez, Vivian Schilling, Gregg Thomsen, Chuck Williams, Robert Z’Dar, David “Shark” Fralick, Jean Reiner

AIP Home Video, 94 Minutes

soultakerReview:

There is an old saying that goes something like, “If you see Joe Estevez as the top billed star, you’re in for an awful time.” Okay, maybe I just made that up but I have yet to see the least known acting member of the Estevez/Sheen family bring any sort of talent to the screen. But then Robert Z’Dar is in this wearing a wig that makes him look like a freakish Poison groupie, so that balances things out a bit.

Soultaker is a strange vanity project for Vivian Schilling. She wrote the film for herself to star in. Too bad she only gets second billing behind Estevez. That’s probably due to the fact that he has the charisma of baked potato while Schilling has the charisma of a shoe.

From what I’ve read, Schilling stays fairly busy as a novelist and screenwriter. Based off of her writing in Soultaker, however, I’d be really skeptical of her other work. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t found her footing, as many people in film start on awful projects.

Soultaker sees Joe Estevez play a grim reaper type of character. Robert Z’Dar plays his boss, the Angel of Death. Estevez is sent to collect the souls of some teenagers who get into a horrible accident. The teens escape the clutches of the reaper and while half of them eventually get caught, the two main characters are on the run in an effort to resurrect themselves in a race against time. The reaper is also in a race against time for some mystical reason that is never really quite clear. If I was a grim reaper, I’d toy with my prey for months like a house cat after crippling a lizard.

The acting is crap, the special effects are crap, the music is crap and the story is crap and nonsensical almost every step of the way.

The only really positive thing about this film is that it is featured as the season ten premier of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is one of the best episodes, as Joel and TV’s Frank return in cameos and we get to see Joel and Mike together on the Satellite of Love.

Rating: 2.5/10

Film Review: Werewolf (1996)

Also known as: Arizona Werewolf
Release Date: January 21st, 1996
Directed by: Tony Zarrindast
Written by: Brad Hornacher, Tony Zarrindast
Music by: Keith Bilderbeck
Cast: Jorge Rivero, Richard Lynch, Federico Cavalli, Adrianna Miles, Joe Estevez

Tozart Publishing, A-Pix Entertainment, 99 Minutes

werewolf-1996Review:

This film has a 1.6 rating on IMDb! 1.6! Well, with a tagline like “Rest In… Beast”, you can expect something pretty amazing.

Werewolf is just baffling. It is impressive how bad it is.

The film starts with a group of archaeologists punching each other. They discover a weird skeleton, which the Native Americans on the team immediately recognize as a werewolf. The archaeologists take it to their lab. One of them gets infected by it and turns into a werewolf in his hospital bed. He is then quickly mowed down by the Native Americans, showing the audience how weak and pathetic the monsters are. Then a douchey archaeologist deliberately infects people to see what happens. The main character gets infected, chaos ensues, douchebag dude gets killed and then I don’t remember what happens because my brain quit working and I blacked out for seven hours due to the effects of this picture.

Almost every character in this film has an unplaceable accent. The way almost everyone says “werewolf” is hilarious. This is an American film yet it is directed by an Iranian and has a cast of people from what is probably a myriad of foreign countries. And then there is Joe Estevez, the pretty much unknown brother of Martin Sheen and uncle to Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez.

The one thing that really sticks out in this film is the audio. It is the worst audio recording and mixing that I have ever heard in any film… ever. The volume level changes between different people talking; it sounds tinny and grainy. It’s like they were using different types of mics all hooked up by different people in their own way, most of whom never handled audio before.

The werewolf effects were the worst I’ve ever seen. Sometimes it is just bad makeup, sometimes it looks like a cheap Halloween mask repurposed to be a hand puppet, other times it is just some dude crawling around on his knees with hair glued to his face. None of it is consistent and all of it is laughable.

The acting is heinous, the plot is boring and stupid and the action sequences may be the worst thing about the movie. The final showdown between the main character werewolf and the douchebag who made him that way is horrendously executed. I feel like they were just playing around practicing the shots, just trying to annoy the director. It was like they took a couple fistfuls of downers and then lethargically rolled around trying not to giggle. Yet, it made it in the film.

Werewolf is the kind of shit where it has to be seen to be believed. I’ve had drunken dreams more coherent than this film. But like many of the bad films I have reviewed, there is also a version of this that can be enjoyed thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you are going to watch this picture, you should definitely watch the MST3k version. It is actually one of their best episodes.

Rating: 1/10