Director: Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: Rick Gianasi, Susan Byun, Bill Weeden, Thomas Crnkovich, Larry Robinson
Fatal sushi… lethal chopsticks… and as American as apple pie!
Detective Harry Griswold is investigating several murders of Kabuki actors. While dining in a japanese restaurant and enjoying a kabuki show, mobsters suddenly appears and shots down the entire cast of the show.
Griswold gets kissed by one of the dying actors and by that he also received the powers of Kabuki. Griswold starts to transform into Kabukiman, a superhero dressed in a kabuki costume with supernatural powers. Kabukiman sets out to clean up the mean and corrupted streets of New York and stop the arrival of “The Evil One”.
The idea of this film started while filming The Toxic Avenger II in Japan when Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz was approached by the good folks of Namco to create a Kabuki themed superhero film that would hopefully be the start of a franchise involving lots of potential merchandise like toys, lunchboxes and whatnot. The budget for this film became one and a half million dollars, the biggest film in the history of Troma.
But as Troma themselves are a good example of, big production budgets does not necessarily mean better films. Problems rose when Namco and Troma got into disagreements on what exactly they were creating. Namco wanted a more family accessible film, while Troma wanted… a Troma film. In the end the film is something in the middle, a Troma film without the amount of violence and immature jokes that you would expect. It is also strange that it does not take place in Tromaville.
And that’s something that just don’t work very well. Most movies don’t need a fart joke every fifth minute to succeed, but on Kabukiman I actually missed some of it. Without it, it ended up feeling very tame on purpose and there isn’t enough left to enjoy in this film without the typical Troma humour.
What is positive about this production is that the acting is better than the norm for Troma films. Rick Gianasi both looks and act the part of a New York cop greatly and is also fun as Kabukiman. He seems to have a lot of fun with the material and is able to do the over the top stuff just right. The music is also goofy and fun, perfect for a Troma superhero film.
Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. is a decent effort, but could have been more fun if Kaufman and co just gave it their all and did what they originally wanted to do. Even though it’s tame Troma, it’s still only something I would recommend to fans of Troma. For others, I would rather recommend to see The Toxic Avenger or even the sequels to it.