My Samurai (1992)- *1\2
Directed by: Fred H. Dresch
Starring: John Kallo, Julian Lee, Lynne Hart, Terry O'Quinn, Bubba Smith, and Mako
“I left without my wallet.” - Young Park
Peter McCrea (Kallo) is a terminally depressed youngster whose dad, James (O’Quinn) forces him to take Tae Kwon Do. However, his instructor Young Park (Lee) believes in him. Mr. Tszing (Mako) is a gangland boss who commands an army of funny-looking thugs. After getting involved in some police corruption, Tszing’s gang shoots some people. The only problem is that the dour Peter child witnesses this. Now on the run from the baddies, Peter, Park, and James’s secretary, Deborah (Hart) have to run from place to place, avoiding death at every turn. Along the way, not only does Park get into a bunch of Martial Arts battles, he also attempts to teach Peter about life, Tae Kwon Do, believing in yourself, and all that jazz. During all this, they run into a man named Reverend George (Smith). This wouldn’t be relevant but for the fact that it happens to be Bubba Smith. Will Peter get out of the doldrums? Will Park connect his punches and kicks? Will our heroes escape the baddies? Perhaps we shall see...
A low-budget independent production starring a lot of strange-looking non-actors. Broken-English dialogue on top of a muffled, unhearable sound recording. Amateurish writing, directing, acting, and other technical qualities. Flat line readings. Squealing guitar on the soundtrack. Warehouse fights. Middle-Aged Punks. We’re home. Clearly a movie in our wheelhouse, as any regular reader of our site knows, My Samurai would fit nicely on the shelf next to other product released on Imperial Video. It’s close in spirit to the output of Ron Marchini, which Imperial trafficked in. It would also fit nicely on the shelf next to items like Hawkeye (1988) or Kindergarten “Ninja” (1994), though those movies are a lot more fun and entertaining than this one is.
The whole movie screams “dumb/awesome regional production made to sit on video store shelves in 1992”. Though it is quite stupid, childish, and repetitive, My Samurai will, if nothing else, remind you of those precious video store memories. It seems unlikely that very many people took this off their local video store shelves and actually paid money to rent it, but it’s easy to picture it being there amongst all the other choices. We don’t know how much penetration into stores across our great country My Samurai actually had, but maybe - just maybe - if all the Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Seagal, Van Damme, Jeff Speakman, Richard Norton, and Jay Roberts, Jr. movies are all rented out on a Friday or Saturday night, and My Samurai sits lonely on the shelf, a 12-year-old boy somewhere picked it up and took it home.
Which leads to the fact that, supposedly, this movie is rated R, but it feels more like PG. When you get to the scene with the “Birds of Paradise” gang - the aforementioned Middle-Aged Punks all wearing different colored Spirit Halloween wigs - you’ll know what we mean. These guys are so non-intimidating, they make the cast of Cocoon (1985) seem like the Latin Kings. Is THIS what Young Park is protecting Peter from? seeing as Peter seems suicidal throughout the movie, you’d think he’d welcome death (?) at the hands of the Birds of Paradise.
Now, it seems rather obvious that this is meant to be a DTV version of The Karate Kid (1984) and/or My Bodyguard (1980). However, Young Park is a Tae Kwon Do instructor - not a Samurai. Did the writers think all Asians are the same? Not only is the title of the movie inaccurate, it’s also totally racist. I think I need to run to my safe space. In the cast department, you get plenty of Mako, which is always a good thing, and a bare minimum amount of Terry O’Quinn, but you have to wait over an hour for Bubba Smith, and what Bubba you get is minimal Bubba. We’ve seen better Bubba. Much better Bubba. It made us long for the magic of The Wild Pair (1987).
So, My Samurai might not be for everybody - or anybody, come to think of it - but those with childhood memories of video stores might appreciate the nostalgia factor. It’s not what you’d call good, in most senses of what we all understand that word to mean, but if you’re a certain kind of movie watcher, that might not matter to you. It’s certainly never stopped any of us before, has it? In the end, what My Samurai lacks in quality is made up for by the archaeological value. Whether that’s a bargain you’re willing to make is up to you.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty