1 out of 5 – Would Recommend: Samurai Cop

Main TitlesWelcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where the ideal Expendables line-up would be Matt Hannon, Y.K. Kim, Reb Brown, etc. Today, we’re explaining the first name on that list by watching 991’s Samurai Cop.

What’s The Plot?

When the vicious Katana Gang invades L.A. and starts cutting a bloody swath through their rivals in the cocaine trade, the LAPD imports samurai/cop Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) from San Diego to battle them steel on steel.

A white guy with long hair weilding a Katana, an image so 90's you can taste it.

A white guy with long hair weilding a Katana, an image so 90’s you can taste it.

Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?

Persian filmmaker Amir Shervan. Per Wikipedia, he had quite the career in his native Iran until the overthrow of the Shah at the end of the 70’s. After the revolution, he moved to the California to keep his career going…and made this amazing direct to DVD piece of RiffTrax fodder in 1991.

I’m going to go ahead and chalk his American output up to being a foreign man in his fifties when he started his career, despite his attending school in Pasadena.

Five Reasons to See It

  1. Late, great cult favorite Robert Z’Dar is playing a Japanese gangster named Yamashita. Mr. Z’Dar is of Lithuanian descent and is noticeably in no way Asian.

    Z'Dar's beard really helps hide the fact that he's a failed attempt at making MODOK.

    Z’Dar’s beard really helps hide the fact that he’s a failed attempt at making MODOK.

  2. The movie just kinda…starts. They don’t even explain who precisely the hero is (a Samurai, trained in Japan and fluent in Japanese) until a solid ten or fifteen minutes in.
  3. For the fellas (and some of the ladies), there’s the mark of a quality B-grade action feature: good looking female nudity. For the ladies (and some of the fellas, Mark Hanon’s a pretty handsome fella, even with the 90’s hair.
  4. There’s a hilariously flamboyant and effeminate Costa Rican waiter who provides our hero with some exposition about his love interest. He’s the kind of character that wouldn’t fly today, but is just so over the top as to quit being offensive and actually be funny.

    Pictured: The hero's partner, who spends a lot of time reacting to stuff in close-up.

    Pictured: The hero’s partner, who spends a lot of time reacting to stuff in close-up.

  5. “So anyway, you get on the phone and tell me that these, what’s his name, Omaha, Yamaha, what his face’s name is after me…” – Ladies and gentlemen, a character who trained to be a Samurai in Japan, talking like a stereotypical blue collar New York beat cop.


This flick is like Miami Connection crossed with Miami Vice by way of Strike Force Eagle 3. It has all the hallmarks of a great bad movie: weird cinematography, cheesy acting, bizarre situations and dialogue, gratuitous nudity, violence, flubbed lines that make it into the final cut…it absolutely deserves to be in the same conversation as Miami Connection, Space Mutiny, Birdemic: Shock & Terror, et al. Watch it!

Bonus: A fan-made sequel was released last year, with a good chunk of the original cast returning  to battle a new villain played by Tommy Wiseau. It’s reportedly not as good, most likely because its b-movieness will be deliberate whereas this one is accidental, but probably worth a look (I have not seen it yet) – Tommy Wiseau lacks the self awareness to be intentionally bad.

Pictured: Two Japanese men, according to this film.

Pictured: Two Japanese men, according to this film.

 NEXT WEEK: We’ll be watching the 2015 low point of Erik Estrada and Vivica A. Fox’s careers, Cool Cat Saves The Kids.


About Chris Walker

Chris Walker (@back2past) is affectionately referred to as Back to the Past's social media lackey. He's all over finding nuggets of pop culture news, wherever they may be hiding!


  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    I feel like you are truly missing out on the bad movie experience. I’d like to see a recommend in which you aren’t reviewing a Rifftrax dub, or a movie clearly picked from a “must see bad movie” list. There are so many bad movies out on the shelves. Get out there and find yourself a movie based on the box alone. It is certainly worth the $5 and is much more satisfying.

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