In the past few years there has been an increase in the number of remakes or sequels for cult films. Unfortunately, many of these films either fall short of the original in entertainment value or they come off as mean-spirited and poking fun of the original. I believe that a sequel to a cult film must meet certain criteria to be considered worthy. Samurai Cop 2 not only meets these criteria, but it also kicks the ass of many films that have attempted the same thing.
The first thing that this film does right is the passage of time. The film actually takes place twenty-five years after the first story. This not only helps explain the difference in look of the returning cast but makes the new characters, settings, and ideas more acceptable to the audience. Director and writer Gregory Hatanaka comes up with an interesting story about what has happened to the characters over the past twenty-five years while handling the original characters with respect. Considering the original, it would have been easy for Hatanaka to make a film that poked fun at its predecessor but he didn’t. He handles this material with a lot of respect and manages to capture not only the style but also the heart of the original movie. This was aided by the fact that a number of the original cast members returned, namely Mathew Karedas and Mark Frazer.
Mathew Karedas returns as the Samurai Cop and it is hard to tell that it has been twenty-five years since he last played this character. He seems to slip into Joe Marshall like a favorite glove. He even has the same hair. Karedas looks so similar that it was hard to tell which flashback scenes were newly shot and which were shots from the previous movie. I also think his performance in this film is much improved, especially in the delivery of his lines. Mark Frazer has not missed a beat with his performance of Frank Washington. The chemistry is still there between these two gentlemen and their scenes together were very memorable. There are also a number of other familiar faces that return including Melissa Moore, Cranston Komuro, and even Tom Gleason, whose character lost his arm in the previous film. There are also a plethora of new characters introduced to the film such as Doggé played by Bai Ling, Captain Harmon played by the talented Joe Estevez, and Tommy Wiseau as Linton. Fans of the genre will recognize legendary cult movie villain, Mel Novak, of Black Belt Jones and Laurene Landon of Hundra, Maniac Cop 1 and 2. A number of adult film stars are also part of the cast and I thought the majority of their performances were good. Stand out performance was Kayden Kross who plays both Milena and also Jennifer, a role originally played by Janis Farly. Kross really makes the most of her screen time and I thought she was the best of the newcomers.
This film has all the sex and violence that you look for in an exploitation film. It does not shy away from any of it but rather embraces it. I love the fact that they did not try to make this film feel like the original in its overall look. The production value of this film exceeds its predecessor by leaps and bounds. I also appreciate the nod they gave to the late Robert Z’dar who played the villain Yamashita in part 1. In part 2 there is a character named Officer Z’dar and they used a few shots of Z’dar from the original. Director Gregory Hatanaka gives us another beautiful ballet of nostalgia, exploitation, modern storytelling, and kick ass fun. He has created a sequel that not only pays respect to the original source but also updates it for the modern audience. It is a natural sequel that is worthy of being called Samurai Cop 2.
Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance can be found on Blu-Ray and DVD at Amazon.com