Samurai Cop is one of those rare gems of a past era, it wasn’t quite 80’s and it wasn’t quite 90’s. It was created by Iranian director Amir Shervan, who had quite the career in Iran until the revolution where he relocated himself to the States and his career was never really the same again. Samurai Cop was his attempt to make a buddy cop film with edge, it missed its mark but in recent years has found itself a devoted cult following. In fact its got such a following that a kickstarter has begun to fund a sequel, for more information click here. I managed to catch up with the star of the original to see how he feels about the original film and its soon to be created little brother.
I know you’re probably sick of being asked this but its been over 20 years, did you ever think that Samurai Cop would get its sequel and now that it has, how does that feel?
When we completed the film I basically assumed it would go nowhere. I received my vhs time coded copy from Amir Shervan and I basically knew he was having trouble selling it. Partly because of the disaster it ended up being. If you look at the film as a whole, if you were a buyer even foreign markets will take anything from America, but apparently this was so horrible as it was to be an action movie, it was just absolutely horrible, obviously for comedic purposes it was a goldmine, but never did I think there would be a sequel, 25 years later.
Now that we are doing a sequel and seeing what it has become with the world wide cult following I think it only fitting that we come back together after 25 years and under the direction and guidance of Gregory Hatanakawith of CineRidge films. I think you couldn’t have a better person in charge of the sequel; since he is really a die hard fan of this film and a big grindhouse fan of these 80’s and 90’s movies and I feel that it’s going to be fun to somewhat tip the scales back towards a legitimate acting career. As I said with Greg and I think that with everyone back on board with the story the timing now and the world market of film making and the pulling together of many people on these big giant film projects such as the Expendables and so on where you are gathering multiple people with many talents I think the timing couldn’t be better.
The original became quite a cult film, even here in the UK there are plenty of fans, have you had any one recognize you in recent years for the original film?
Over the years no one has come up to me and said hey aren’t you the guy from Samurai Cop? I have been mistakenly recognized for many people and even sometimes people would look at me and think that I was in the entertainment industry to some capacity weather it was film or television. They felt that they had seen me but no one really knew me from Samurai Cop. Its slowly starting to happen now just because we have had a rush of exposure and the wheels are up and running. Its kind of the buzz word around Hollywood. I’m sure as the months go on and as we film this sequel that this will happen and I’m thankful that I will at least have a part to be judged by and not be forever known for my first acting performance in the original Samurai Cop.
The main driving force behind the original was Amir Shervan, what was it like working with him?
I’ve always been extremely thankful for the opportunity that Amir gave me. To have the lead role and at such a young age in a feature film, as an actor starting out it’s truly a gift. Regardless of what it became I am very appreciative of Amir. Of course we had our own personal battles going back and forth regarding the dialogue and certain scene selections that he wanted to do. As a respectful actor you listen to the director and those in charge, you’re basically there to perform as they like you to. Many others will listen to you and take your input but Amir was very regimented with the scene selection, the dialogue, the cadence in which you spoke your lines and so on.
Though other than that Amir was a friendly guy and very serious about his film making. I can only wonder that if he was not held back by financial restrictions on some of his films that he could perhaps have done I guess better quality productions. For what he had money wise and what he pulled off in our film, as comical as it became, even then that’s quite a feat too. For instance live shots out in public without a permit and he was a master of using one location for many different parts of the story or script. Amir is a very sweet man and its been a privilege to be given the honor to work for him and be part of his legacy.
I have heard a few stories about this but I would like the definitive answer, at some point in the original you end up with a wig on, what was the reason behind this and will we see the wig coming back?
I think over time now since I came back from the dead and set the record straight, we had finished principle photography and all the reshoots in November 1990 and Amir had told me we were all done. We had started in June of 1990, it was a very long filming process where we would go weeks with doing a shoot. I didn’t cut my hair until Amir had said we were completely finished, he thanked me for hanging in there with him and lasting longer that he had originally projected time wise for me to be involved. I then cut my hair extremely short and changed my head shots, I was trying to change my look and be more commercial for a commercial agent and theatrically was trying to have a different leading man look other than the long hair.
Amir called me in early January and he asked me to meet him in his office and at that time I thought I was on my way to pick up my footage from the movie, the final product. When I walked into the office he was incredibly shocked and out raged that my hair was cut, he asked me why I did it and I explained that I was changing my look and changing my head shots. He told me he had more to do and we marched down to the closest wig shop in Hollywood and he selected a wig that he thought was closest to resemble my original hair and we proceeded to spend another month maybe a month and a half gathering all the extra footage that we needed.
As you watch that movie you see there was a huge amount of either damaged footage or just scenes that he did not have. I believe that a lot of it was in his own mind, he wanted more footage because there are close ups and dialogue that I say with that wig on, unfortunately it became a huge distraction in the final product and I am quite sure even though I never really spoke to him about it, but he was quite upset feeling that it ruined his movie but he was in the passion and wanted to finish the film so regardless if I was wearing the wig or not, or if it was obvious or not he felt that we would have to continue forward and get the shots that he needed. So again I followed my commander into battle and did as he asked.
What’s it been like getting so much of the original cast back together?
Its been absolutely fabulous because everybody seems to have drunk from the same fountain of youth as we all seem to be close to the way we looked 25 years ago. We still have one hold out who doesn’t really want to be associated with the film. Other than that I think with the people we have coming back it’s going to be great for the original fans to enjoy seeing them in their cameos. They may have been killed or it was assumed that they were dead in the first film but we will see them again in a different capacity to whatever degree. I still have no idea how people are going to be used but I think it’s going to be fun to see everybody and yes that’s the whole core of what we are doing. We are making it fun for the fans and even if you didn’t see the first film it’s still hopefully a good movie and a fun movie to watch.
Now I love the original and I hope you don’t mind me saying, it falls into the it’s so bad it’s great category but what can we expect from the sequel and are you at all nervous about how the fans will react?
I’m glad that I am in the dark, Gregory Hatanaka and the writers have been putting together the treatment and the script keeps changing and evolving as we get more celebrity cameos that would like to participate in the movie. However the basic story has already been set. I’m not nervous about the outcome as we are not obviously going to break the golden rule which is to copy the first movie because as we all know that’s magic captured in a battle and it can never be repeated. And I said earlier what we are going to give is a film that stands alone, stays true to the original 90s type action genre and obviously it’s just Frank and Joe on another adventure. We also want it to be visually pleasing with all the beautiful women that are going to be along for the ride on this film as they were for the first.
Just looking through the Kickstarter you can see quite a varied cast, is there anyone in particular that you were really glad to be working with?
My leading lady Kayden Kross, whom I feel is an extremely up and coming undiscovered talent. I’m looking forward to working with her, I’ve seen some of her work with Gregory in the film he produced, Blue Dream, she did a fantastic job. I know she comes from another industry but the talent is there. She has great screen presence and confidence and she is an extremely attractive girl whom the camera just loves. Another would be Tommy Wiseau ,from the equally famous The Room. If you look at him aesthetically we look like brothers, so that’s going to be interesting to see how we come together in the movie with what kind of interactions we will have. Also working again with Mark Frazier I am looking forward to sparking that comedic chemistry again and I think it’s going to be fun for me.
What’s been the most exciting prospect about this sequel?
I think for me personally after getting through the shock and awe of everything that started two months ago, I am looking forward to putting another performance out there that I am hoping can surpass the performance I did in samurai cop 25 years ago. Obviously I have not been doing any acting at all or studying but I feel through life experiences and as you grow as a person that I have plenty to share. I will add a little more of myself into the character instead of playing the one dimensional way that Amir had me play it in the first movie.
I think it’s nice to be able to now have something else out there that people can take a liking to and say hey ya know what this guy has maybe got something going on and we would love to see him in other movies. I am up for doing more work even at my late age of 50, it’s kind of over the hill as Hollywood standards for starting a career but I feel with the huge fan base it’s not like I am trying to start from scratch building a fan base and an audience. I think there are people out there now who are anxious to see what I can give and hopefully keep their focus in wanting to watch me up on the big screen so that is exciting to have in what I call my redemption to have in the sequel.
And finally is there any messages you would like to say to your die hard fans?
I have tried to respond to most of my fans and I just thank them for all their kind words. It’s very rare that I find someone who has just brutally attacked me for my performance as they should have in saying something like:
“I don’t know what everyone’s talking about bro, you’re the worst actor I have ever seen. You look like a moron and I can’t believe you have all this attention, that’s what I am expecting.”
But I have just got a lot pf people out there who understand what went on there with all the constraints and conditions we filmed under. I realized I wasn’t given the best opportunity but I have always said that I do not push all of this onto Amir or the script. A lot of it was just poor acting and not being able to watch my scenes on play back mode, like you would typically have on a very low budget film, to see what was wrong or to see that things where not being said right. I would like to thank them for their kind support, its been worldwide, I did not realize that it stretched so far across oceans to countries all over the world. It’s just fun for me to know they are out there and I’m just looking forward to making them happy with my performance as I edge back into the entertainment industry.
Check out this kickstarter, it’s going to be worth it.