Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, 2015.
Directed by Gregory Hatanaka.
Starring Matt Hannon, Mark Frazer, Tommy Wiseau, Bai Ling, Kayden Kross, Cranston Komuro, Melissa Moore, Lexi Belle, Nicole Bailey, Joselito Rescober, Shane Ryan, Mindy Robinson, Lisa London, Kristine DeBell, Joe Estevez, Gerald Okamura, Mel Novak and Laurene Landon.
It’s 25 years later, and Detective Frank Washington is forced to team up with his long estranged partner Joe Marshall to solve a series of assassinations being committed by a secret group of female vigilante killers.
In cinema you have masterpieces. You have great films. You have mediocre films and sometimes you have terrible films. Now, when it comes to bad films they divide into several categories. You have the Adam Sandler category, which as we all know means that a film is irredeemably bad (with occasional anomalies that come with the shifting of tides or blue moons, like The Wedding Singer), you have films of appalling ineptitude, but sometimes, just sometimes, you get a film so bad it’s strangely brilliant. This kind of film was probably first popularised by Ed Wood with hilariously crap films like Plan 9 From Outer Space. In more recent years one such work of brilliant badness was Samurai Cop, an early 90’s action film that looked like it was shot in 2 days for 2 dollars and inexplicably starred the late (great) Robert Z’Dar.
Over the years Samurai Cop has garnered a cult following. Like a lot of undiscovered early to mid nineties Z movies, it’s found a new wave of appreciation in the YouTube generation. There have been other examples. Troll 2 or more concordantly in the action genre, the fantastically bad Undefeatable or King of the Kickboxers. Despite that new-found appreciation for the affably bad film, a sequel never seemed too likely, but thankfully we live in the crowdfunding generation. Writer/Director Gregory Hatanaka set about bringing a sequel to life. He duly succeeded.
Samurai Cop was as the title suggests. It’s about a cop who’s also a samurai. The sequel re-introduces us to Joe Marshall, who has become a recluse. Now most people watching Deadly Vengeance will likely have seen the first film, but regardless, previous knowledge isn’t really required. Rival factions of the Yakuza struggle for power whilst also trying to hunt down and kill the Samurai Cop. He himself is haunted by the death of his wife years previously and driven by revenge. I shan’t go too much into story because the film has absolutely no logic and makes very little sense. It just goes from scene to scene, connecting it’s madness loosely along the way. It’s utterly (and intentionally) daft.
As the titular Samurai Cop, Mathew Karedas was hilariously awful in the first film. Here however, whilst he’s not Al Pacino by any stretch of the imagination, there’s a genuine sincerity to his performance. He seems to be enjoying playing the role again and being back in front of camera having not been in anything significant since the original film (made in 91). In the intervening years he’s clearly not taken too many breaks from the gym. Also back is Mark Frazer as Marshall’s partner. He’s having a lot of fun with this. His performance is a lot more self-aware with lots of winking and nudging directly to the audience as he breaks the fourth wall.
Elsewhere in the cast is an array of porn actresses and a few great examples of plastic surgery gone wrong. As villains there are several notable names from cult cinema. Controversial filmmaker Shane Ryan releases his inner maniac as Mr. Leonard. His career thus far both in front and behind the camera has been diverse to say the least from exploitation flicks shot for almost nothing like the Amateur Porn Star Killer series, to a film more considered and meaningful (and genuinely haunting) like My Name Is ‘A’ By Anonymous, and scoring a lead role in an Albert Pyun one take film called The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper. Tommy Wiseau who has gained his own infamy for possibly the ultimate post-Wood (that’s Ed Wood) awful masterpiece, The Room, turns up as the main villain. He’s as awful as he is in his own film. Just how much is intentional is difficult to judge, and he tends to ramble inexplicably on and on. I’ve literally no idea what Wiseau says in this film at any moment, yet there’s something strangely entrancing about him chewing scenery like it’s going out of fashion. Indeed the man is such a character that he’s even got James Franco playing him in a film.
Now, the star name of the piece…Bai Ling. I’ll put it out there right now. I love Bai Ling. She’s amazing. She’s just bonkers and beautiful. She’s starred in everything as diverse as Anna and the King, The Crow, to more recent years where it seems she’ll appear in just about anything (even if it’s been shot for 2 cents). I also can’t remember the last film I’ve seen of Ling in the last 10 years where she hasn’t taken her kit off. Though to be fair most premieres she turns up at she tends to be half-naked at least. I just think she has an aversion to clothing. She’s certainly a character and always watchable. She storms into her scenes like a purring cat high on catnip. She’s fantastic. And her costuming is makes Lady Gaga look conservative. I always get the feeling too with Bai Ling that no costumer is required for her. She probably turns up on set in something that looks utterly bizarre yet beautiful and is ready to go.
The first film was terrible without being fully aware of its awfulness. That’s part of what makes these films so enjoyable. Deadly Vengeance is more aware of its direction. There could have been a danger that with a firm wink from the writer and director and most of the cast, that this wouldn’t work. However, much like Sharknado this intentionally makes something bad, but still manages to make it entertaining. It’s great fun. Hatanaka must have had a great affection for the first one and it shows. The film is strangely episodic. They fit in a lot, be it cameos, fight sequences or 35mm shot dream sequences (the majority of the film is shot digitally). It’s all thoroughly ridiculous but enjoyable.
Fans of bad movies will enjoy this. It’s well suited for communal viewing, whether it’s a Friday night beer and movie night with mates, or whether you’re lucky enough to find a screening of the film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★