Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TROMA TUESDAY: SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. (1990) directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman

We're back with another installment of Troma Tuesday here at the ER blog! And lest anybody think that Evan Romero has a thing about murdering Troma flicks with his reviews, here's his take on – gasp! – a PG-13 Troma flick that works? Yeah, I don't believe it either but since the flick in question is currently free with my Amazon Prime membership I might just take a look.

A PG-13 Troma flick. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes, I'm certain your mind is filled with visions of the apocalypse, of civilizations falling, of the sun going supernova and eviscerating our galaxy. Well, calm your tits 'cause it's nowhere near as bad as it sounds. Come now, let us go fight some crime (and shitty movies) with SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D.

Detective Harry Griswold (Rick Gianiasi) is investigating the murder of two kabuki performers by a goon employed by Reginald Stuart (Bill Weedon). While watching the show the murdered performers were supposed to star in, a shoot-out occurs – during which Griswold is selected to become Kabukiman, the man who will harness the spirit of kabuki and defend the world against evil. Griswold must now learn to harness his new powers while bringing Stuart and his goons to justice - as well as preparing for a battle with The Evil One, who is set to return to Earth! Will justice prevail? Or will evil reign throughout the land?

Okay, so you're probably wondering just how funny a PG-13 Troma flick can be. The answer: pretty damn funny. Unlike some Troma movies where the comedy – comedy that's usually anarchic and not funny – overshadows the plot, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. achieves a perfect balance: the slapstick/goofy humor is here, but not at the expense of plot / story. You can actually get invested in it.

About the only thing the PG-13 rating affects is the level of gore. Sure, it's here, but it is toned down drastically in comparison to Troma's usual unhinged and over-the-top fare. But the fact that a Troma film can be enjoyed without the characteristic gore is a testament to how much attention the filmmakers put into other aspects of the production. And it pays off.

What helps the production achieve the level it does is in large part due the performances of the actors and actresses. Sure, we're not gonna get award-winning material here, but the characters are interesting and fleshed out enough and the performers invest their roles with energy and charm. Much of the comedy would have fallen flat were it not for them. The standout performances come from Rick Gianiasi and Nobel Lee Lester, who plays "Capt. Bender." Those two have great chemistry and generate many laughs when they appear on screen together. The scene when Bender confronts Griswold, who is dressed in full clown regalia, about his behavior is pure comedic gold.

Oh, and for those fans wondering where the footage of Troma's famous "car crash" came from, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. is the answer.

Overall, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. ranks as one of Troma's best productions. It's too bad the Kabukiman character couldn't have gotten his own series like Toxie because seeing his further adventures would have been a treat. Regardless, we'll always have this one movie to throw in anytime we wanna see a man in kabuki dress fighting crime with heat-seeking chopsticks, fatal sushi, and pyro parasols. Go watch it now before The Evil One returns...

SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. is available on Blu-ray and DVD. Features include an interview with Rick Gianiasi, a full episode of KABUKIMAN'S COCKTAIL CORNER, audio commentary and much more. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER and spends much of his time reading morally-questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about THE BIBLE BELT SLASHER PT. II: THE HOLY TERROR for Slasher Friday.

SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD is available from Amazon.

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