This afternoon I was in the enviable position of sitting in a private screening room to watch Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance before it’s premiere here in Los Angeles tomorrow. I also had Gregory Hatanaka (Director) and Mathew Karedas (lead actor) sat with me.
Now the cynical amongst you may well presume that those circumstances would skew my opinions on the movie, and ultimately my review. Add to the fact that we have interviewed Mathew Karedas on our podcast (multiple times) and also interviewed Mark Frazer, Lisa London (and on ’60 Minutes With’ I’ve interviewed Mel Novak) who are all in the movie, and that could throw more fuel onto the ‘he’s going to write a sychophantic review’ fire.
My thoughts here are honest and a true reflection of my experience watching the movie…Mat knows that I’d tell him to his face if I thought it was crap.
In one way I’m slightly hampering myself by not wanting to give too much of the storyline away…there are surprises in store that I definitely don’t want to give away! Suffice to say that the plot has twists and turns that can’t necessarily be fully taken in with just the one viewing. I personally can’t wait to watch it again tomorrow (multiple times) to clarify a few plot points, but at no point are you ever left scratching your head, as the movie keeps throwing one highly entertaining scene after another at you.
Trying to capture ‘lightning in a bottle’ a 2nd time could well put you on a hiding to nothing, but kudos to director Gregory Hatanaka for stepping up to the plate and having the balls and tenacity to get this movie out there. Trying to make a deliberately ‘bad movie’ would alienate the majority of both core and casual fans, while at the same time making a polished action movie would probably disappoint those who regularly play our Samurai Cop “wig” drinking game. I’m extremely pleased to report that I saw lightning bottled a 2nd time and a great balance between new and old was onscreen.
Fans of the original are going to be spoilt with homages to it…some obvious, some not so obvious…another reason to rewatch multiple times! But it’s not all about using the original as a narrative crutch, as there are scenes and lines in this movie that stand on their own and will be taken to heart by fans as new cinematic gold for them to re-enact and repeat.
I honestly cried with laughter multiple times while watching this movie….I’ll leave you to discover when you think that may have happened…I’ll give you one hint though; watch out for a cameo appearance on an aeroplane! I also pumped my fist with excitement on numerous occasions and was also impressed with the higher standard of action scenes and fighting.
It was a pleasure to see Mat and Mark Frazer reunited as Joe and Frank, and Mark gives a fantastic performance throughout. He also spoils the core fanbase with classic looks to camera and a visual/ verbal ‘call back’ gag that is the most over the top in the movie….you’ll give one of those ‘groaning’ laughs, but still lap it up. He also gave me another of my ‘crying with laughter’ moments.
Watch out for the acting from Mat too, he plays it up when needed but also gives some very sublte moments, especially some background facial acting while he’s not the focus of the scene…plus the black ‘budgie smugglers’ return! I’d love to see him return as Joe Marshall once again, but also be given the opportunity to stretch his acting chops in other projects too.
The supporting cast give their all and it shows on screen in their performance. Kayden Kross is my tip to cross over from the adult movie industry to mainstream cinema in a big way…are you listening Hollywood? But that’s not to distract from the likes of Bai Ling, Cranston Komuro, Laurene Landon (Hundra fans; you will NOT be disappointed), Melissa Moore, Mel Novak, Lexi Belle, Mindy Robinson, Lisa London and everyone else in the cast that lights up the screen. Theres even a superb performance by Joe Estevez as an angry and pissed off police chief…and regular listeners will know how much we love our angry police chiefs.
Add into the mix the return of Gerald Okamura (including an inspired flashback with him from the original movie) and fans of Samurai Cop are going to lap this up like kittens put in front of their first bowl of cream.
That’s not to discount new fans though as there is more than enough brand new material to ensnare a whole new generation of fans.
I do need to point out to people that have seen the trailer and think that Joe Marshall is on a space station…all will be revealed and it’s not what you think!
So there it is, my initial thoughts and musings after one viewing….and YES, I bloody did love it. You may be sitting there thinking “I knew that he’d write a good review’, but I make no apologies for telling the truth and saying that I’m really looking forward to watching it again tomorrow and picking up on as many bits as I can that I missed the first time around.
There will of course be people that don’t like it and dismiss it, but isn’t that the same for EVERY movie?
If you are of similar mindset to myself and/or a fan of Samurai Cop, then buy a ticket ASAP and get your ass to a cinema when it comes to play near you. If you are not a fan or have never seen the original, give this one a chance as there’s plenty of new stuff to entertain you.