Rifftrax: Samurai Cop (1991)

He’s the musclebound cop
In the lady’s wig
And the bad-fitting baseball cap

See him drive around the city
Running over bad guys
In his Chevrolet piece-of crap

On loan from San Diego
(We don’t know why)
They call him “samurai”
(His name is “Joe”)
But he doesn’t fit the profile
For a samurai
He doesn’t even have a sword…

o/~Then the bad guy dies and you realize they didn't apprehend a single criminal~\o
o/~And now they drop their swords and they go back to punching ’cause they’re not very good with swords~\o

And sometimes you have genius. In the late ’80s, Iranian Amir Ghaffar, fleeing the repression following the ’79 Revolution, rekindled his movie career in America, writing, directing and producing ’80s-style action films, and not letting a minor thing like a not-quite-secure-grasp on the native language or common tropes or budget requirements or scheduling…

Under the name of Amir Shervan, this wonderful example of American freedom gifted us with five films, of which Samurai Cop is the most legendary. The only release it received back in 1991 was a limited VHS distribution in Poland, and then was recently (within the last five years) re-discovered after Amir’s untimely death. In the age of the Internet, it became a legend.

It’s a bit raunchy for a riffing film, but that is one area where Rifftrax distinguishes itself from “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. For my own tastes, I prefer my riffing movies to be family-friendly, because awkward explicit sex scenes (as in The Room) are just that: Too explicit to not be a little awkward, even when the guys are at their funniest. To quote Kevin Murphy’s brilliant song some more:

He’s making dinner for his new girlfriend
Wearing nothing but a little black banana hammock
They’re gonna make sweet love and it kinda makes you feel
Like you’d rather see anything else

I was thankful, anyway.
I think these two have an even more explicit scene, but if so, it was excised here, thankfully.

Actually, Murphy’s song pretty much covers the whole movie, start-to-finish with a lot of droll observations. (The Flower, who did not see this with us in the theater, ended up watching the in-studio riffed version—which is the same, basically—with me, only to find herself simultaneously amazed at how dead on the song was, and how shockingly bad the movie was.)

The riffs are solid here. The problem with a movie like this is that it’s such a meatball over the plate, one can end up sounding like a Nelson Muntz, simply restating the movie’s many obvious, glaring flaws. There are only a couple of examples of this, where the mistake being lampooned is the sort of continuity error you might find in a normal, even good film. This actually works at one point, when Amir’s English-as-a-Second-Language comes out with “son of a bitches”. (Of course, in English, when we have a noun followed by a modifying phrase, the plural is formed by altering the noun, so “sons-in-law” not “son-in-laws” or “justices of the peace” not “justice of the peaces”.) As immortalized in “Samurai Cop Rockin’ Action Theme”

He’s tellin’ these son of a bitches
He respects the Japanese of this country
He’s gonna turn ’em into fertilizer
While making time with the gang-boss’ lady

Samurai cop!

So, if you’re in the mood for some riffing, and awkward moments with muscly-’80s-era dudes in banana hammocks don’t put you off too terribly much, this is a good use of your entertainment dollar.

o/~Now comes the final battle against the Big Chin Guy~\o
Also chins. You can’t be afraid of chins and see this happily.

Fun-ish fact: The sequel (the ingeniously named Samurai Cop 2) premiered at the North Hollywood Laemmle, which is one of our regular haunts, but does not seem to be one of the premieres we were on hand for.

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