Film Review: Gypsy (1990)

Release Date: October, 1990
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Carold Dickey, Amir Shervan
Music by: Alen Der Marderosian
Cast: Harold Diamond, Stuart Whitman, Delia Sheppard, Joselito Rescober

Rex Films, 101 Minutes

Review:

“I’m not a fighter. I’m a lover.” – Rose’s Father

This is the last of the five American films by Amir Shervan that I needed to review. I’m a fan of the guy’s work ever since seeing Samurai Cop and none of his films have really been disappointing, as I’m a big fan of this sort of schlock.

Gypsy is actually the most obscure of the five, even though they’re all pretty hard to track down if you’re not looking for them on Prime. Luckily, I was able to rent this one there and finally give it a watch.

Out of all the Shervan pictures from the States, this is the second worst, coming in ahead of Hollywood Cop. Yet it is still amusing and I really like his regulars Harold Diamond and Joselito Rescober, who actually plays his best character in this movie.

This is action packed, loaded with lots of glorious breasts and it fits well within Shervan’s patented style.

The plot is about a drifter type who brings war to a racist land baron and his minions, who have been exploiting migrant families. It’s got shades of Road House, Raw Deal, Delta Force 2 and Shervan’s other American flicks.

While most will deem this as a terrible movie. I have taste and I deem it as solid schlock with a lighthearted goofiness that makes it an entertaining and endearing experience.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: Amir Shervan’s other wonderful films.

***no trailer available***

Film Review: Young Rebels (1989)

Release Date: November 1989
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Amir Shervan
Music by: Alan DerMarderosian
Cast: John Greene, Tadashi Yamashita, Robert Z’Dar, Aldo Ray, Joselito Rescober, Delia Sheppard

Rex Films, Cinema Epoch, 93 Minutes

Review:

Amir Shervan created magic, probably unintentionally, when he made Samurai Cop. Another one of his films, Killing American Style, was perfect for all the wrong reasons. As I am working through as much of his filmography as I can, I have gotten to Young Rebels. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the awesomeness of the aforementioned motion pictures.

This doesn’t mean it is bad. Well, it is bad but it is fantastic bad. But not as fantastic bad as the others.

In this movie, a guy owes some mobsters some money. He gets his bad ass brother involved. The deadbeat non-payer gets murdered. Brother then gets really angry and with his friends, decides it’s time to take the mobsters down.

The style and tone of the film is really consistent with Shervan’s Killing American Style. It also features Robert Z’Dar, which is always a plus. Now the movie is humorous but not as much as the later released and way more famous Samurai Cop.

If you are a fan of other Shervan flicks, you will probably enjoy this one enough to give it a watch. It just doesn’t have the magic of the other Shervan pictures I’ve seen before this.

I’m hoping the few that I still have to watch are closer to Killing American Style and Samurai Cop. So far, I’ve been happy with his pictures, even if this one was a bit weak by comparison.

Rating: 6/10

*Unfortunately, there isn’t even a trailer for this online. This is the best I could find to give you a taste of the movie.

 

Film Review: Killing American Style (1990)

Release Date: 1990
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Amir Shervan
Music by: Alan DerMarderosian
Cast: Jim Brown, Robert Z’Dar, Harold Diamond, Joselito Rescober, John Lynch, Veronica Paul, Jimmy Williams, Delia Sheppard (uncredited)

Rex Films, Cinema Epoch, 90 Minutes

Review:

After having revisited Samurai Cop and seeing its sequel Samurai Cop 2, as well as recently revisiting Miami Connection and a lot of Cannon Films’ action pictures, I wanted to keep that vibe alive. So I figured I would check out one of Amir Shervan’s (director of the first Samurai Cop) other pictures.

Considering that Killing American Style featured both Robert Z’Dar and Jim Brown had me interesting in watching this movie first. It also features Joselito Rescober (the gay waiter in Samurai Cop) in a much larger role as a Japanese doctor. The film also stars Harold Diamond, who I guess was a regular in Shervan’s bizarre yet fun pictures.

Let me start by saying that this film is no Samurai Cop. That being said, I still loved it for a variety of reasons.

The first reason is Robert Z’Dar. I love him in just about everything but never has he been this great. He was damn committed to the role of Tony Stone and he sold it hard. Maybe too hard but he knew what kind of film this was and it called for some over the top insanity. Z’Dar delivered in every conceivable way and this may be his magnum opus. It is refreshing seeing him really come alive and push the envelope, especially as his character here is the complete opposite of his most famous role, the title character in the Maniac Cop film series. He isn’t a silent hulking giant any longer. Here, he is a loud and brash criminal douchebag.

Another thing I love about this is seeing Joselito Rescober be more than a funny bit character with a cameo. While he isn’t as funny as the waiter in Samurai Cop he is still enjoyable as Dr. Fuji and he had some good moments.

I also really liked Harold Diamond. He was a good hero for this sort of film and even though he is immobilized, for a brief stint in the movie, he isn’t some pussy even with his family’s lives in danger. He never stops trying to defeat his home invaders. His son is also awesomely hilarious.

The rest of the cast between the family members living in the house and the criminals who invaded their home, are all pretty good. Yes, this is a poorly acted ham and cheese festival but all of these people nail their roles in just the right way.

While this isn’t as great as Samurai Cop and certainly doesn’t have its cult following, it exists in the same vein as that film. It is another superb outing from Amir Shervan but his movies aren’t for everyone. You have to be a big fan of over the top, mostly insane, cheesy yet testosterone-filled 80s action flicks.

In fact, it is great that these movies remained mostly undiscovered until now. It is like reliving the feeling of seeing something like this for the first time back when I was a kid bin-diving in mom and pop video stores in the 80s and 90s.

Rating: 8/10

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: 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

Review:

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