Review: Films Inspired By Japan – Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1990)

Yet another silly movie with p*ss-poor acting but I guess that’s what we’ve come to expect from a low budget independent production company like Troma. ‘Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.‘ is actually a spin-off from the Kabuki-Boy character seen in ‘The Toxic Avenger Part II‘ (1989) which is actually one of the films showing at the cinema (along with ‘BlackRain‘) in the background of an early scene involving the protagonist. Company founder Lloyd Kaufman jokingly mentioned he was making a movie about the character and Japanese investors became interested so you can blame this country for this comical sci-fi cop adventure seeing the light of day!

Warning: Contains spoilers!

Bumbling New York police detective Harry Griswold (Rick Gianasi) goes to the theatre to see some kabuki but things are interrupted when a load of guys wielding machine guns burst in and start firing off shots at the actors on stage. Harry is the have-a-go hero type and retaliates with gunfire of his own and as the oldest actor is dying he gives the protagonist a sloppy kiss. With that action, his old Kabuki-spirit is transferred to Harry.

The super-hero movies may have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years with the addition of many, many newer characters on top of the classics like Batman, Spider-Man and Superman but it really is not a new phenomenon as proved by the much forgotten (never remembered or known in the first place?!!) Kabukiman which does pay homage to the genre with some scenes that rip-off the aforementioned famous super-heroes.

Harry’s transformation doesn’t take too long and before you know it he’s wearing kabukiface-paint and a kimono and is fighting crime and evil with the help of the old man’s granddaughter, Lotus who teachers him to master his new found Kabuki-powers in order to stop the Evil One from ruling the earth.

As well as his police duties, he has to stop something from happening which he does whilst displaying his arsenal of attacking moves. Though still incompetent in his new role, New York grows to love Kabukiman as he gets a grasp of his powers and tackles petty city crime in entertaining ways such as tying a car thief in noodles, burying a guy in mustard wasabi, throwing Japanese footwear, using chopsticks as arrows, fans that blow his opponents away and turning people into sushi.

That’s just a taster of what you get in this film which is full of Troma trademarks like gratuitous nudity (albeit quite sparse compared to other offerings), gross humour, outlandish violence, cartoon-like characters, blood, worm eating, crazy villains, sound effects, narratives explaining what’s happening and so on.

The film really is longer than it needs to be. No-one ought to be subjected to 105 minutes of such entertainment, not even young teenage boys who I guess probably lap this kind of stuff up! I know I would have done at that age whereas now I find it hard to laugh as such absurd and ridiculous action such as the transformations when Harry became Kabukiman. I guess those things are the appeal for many though and I can kind of see why such films can quickly develop a cult following.

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TF Rating 5/10

Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘The Toxic Avenger Part II’ (1989)

This ridiculously silly low budget B-movie was actually brought to my attention (though strictly not “recommended”) by fellow blogger tokyo5 who mentioned it in a comment on my ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III‘ review a couple of years ago.

Having heard that this comedy, horror film holds a rare 0% rating on the Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes website (based on the percentage of approved critics giving it a positive review) I thought that I have got to see this so after forking out a few quid on the dvd I settled down to watch it in the early hours of a jet-lagged morning.

Now, of course I haven’t seen the 1984 original but that doesn’t really matter as what little storyline there is, is often explained in the narrative including the lady from the abominable Apocalypse Corporation explaining to her members the background on the Toxic Avenger and some lame connection to Tokyo which sees the Toxic Avenger come  here to find his father. The first film was a big hit in Japan and was I guess the reason they came here to make the sequel much like what happened in the equally awful ‘The Bad News Bears Go To Japan‘ (1978).

This tripe was served up by those kings of campy movies; Troma Entertainment, with the imaginatively titled Tromaville being the home town of the Toxic Avenger who, five years on from the original, is now around to protect its people from all manner of evil. Once he’s been lured to Tokyo by his shrink (working undercover for the enemy) his absence gives the Apocalypse corporation the chance to take over his beloved Tromaville where they have their sights set on first owning it and then destroying it and turning it into a toxic dump or something along those lines. Of course, its then up to the deformed superhero of superhuman size and strength to save the day.

Japan is first seen 34 minutes into the movie with locations including Tokyo Tower, the Yamanote platform, Asakusa Senso-ji, the area around Harajuku station, a pachinko parlour, Tokyo station, Tsukiji fish market and a tsukudani (small seafood, meat or seaweed simmered in soy sauce and mirin) boutique in Tsukishima.

There seems to be some debate to the edit of the film but my version was the directors cut which, at 102 minutes long, has an extra 6 minutes of gore! Lucky me! In fact the original edit was supposedly over 4 hours long so it was split into two movies so ‘The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie‘ followed 8 months later in the same year. I can kind of see why it’s supposedly a cult film among the younger generation  as the action is often fun in a “so-bad-its-good” way. It’s also got a fair amount of gratuitous nudity and foul behaviour as well as its own catchy theme song at the start to keep them attentive throughout.

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Tokyo Fox Rating 4/10