Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (Stomp Visual) (1990) (NTSC)

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Released 31-Aug-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 105:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up ?
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Herz
Lloyd Kaufman
Studio
Distributor
Troma Studios
Stomp Visual
Starring Rick Gianasi
Susan Byun
Bill Weeden
Thomas Crnkovich
Larry Robinson
Noble Lee Lester
Brick Bronsky
Pamela Alster
Shaler McClure
Jeff Wineshmutz
Joe Fleishaker
Fumio Furuya
Masahiro Yamaguchi
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Bob Mithoff


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame No Audio Data available for this title
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††Film noir meets offensive Asian stereotypes meets extreme violence/sex/clowns in Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.! Troma's classic introduces Sgt. Harry Griswold (Rick Gianasi) as a cop on the edge, thrown into battle with Tromaville's elite evildoers after he receives the ancient powers of Kabuki from a fallen performer in a violent shoot out. Taught to use his powers by the luscious Lotus (Susan Byun), the Sgt. takes to the street to fight the greatest battle of all time!

This film was spun-off from the character Kabuki-Boy in The Toxic Avenger Part II, after Lloyd Kaufman jokingly mentioned he was making a movie about the character, and Japanese investors became interested. US investors also jumped at the chance to follow up on the success of Toxie with a new hero that could be a successful franchise, with merchandising and a children's cartoon spin off and so on so on. Sadly, they weren't too impressed with the final result, a film that seemed too heavy on the violence and sexual content to appeal to children, and too childish to really appeal to adults, leaving the film basically shelved for years.

I am sad to say that this really isn't Troma's best, an uneven mix of elements that never quite gels. Originally released in a PG-13 version and an unrated version, this is undoubtedly the latter, with lots of nasty gasp-worthy moments as well as plenty of hilarity and a nice heaping of sex and nudity on top. But the storyline and characters aren't all that compelling, and the overly complex, overly nonsensical plot lumbers over itself, full of unsympathetic characters and poorly developed events that constantly fail to pay off.

That complexity is of particular note; while Troma films aren't usually really deep and meaningful, the underlying continual satire of Tromeo and Juliet was constantly smart and funny but didn't get in the way of the kitsch Romeo and Juliet with perversity hilarity; meanwhile the lighter Toxic Avenger kept subtext and meaning to a minimum but also made its characters simple and likeable - Toxie's main appeal was that he was big, ugly and could smash things. Kabukiman doesn't compare, despite the exaggeration of Asian stereotypes into a flamboyant, ridiculous-looking superhero, mostly because the film doesn't give him anything to do. Kabukiman's many many powers are introduced and then forgotten about in a flash - likewise, in one scene, Griswold transforms into a clown for no reason whatsoever except to partake in a ridiculous chase sequence, ending with no explanation at all. This randomness might be an intentional attempt at playing on non-sequiter humour Aqua Teen Hunger Force style, however the late suggestion that Griswold's powers fail without the love of Lotus alludes to the whole movie being a failed attempt at having a serious underlying set of rules which just doesn't work: though an interesting idea and a jab at subtext, it completely falls flat, going against everything that preceded it as well as common sense.

Ultimately, there is fun to be had with Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., and it'll no doubt appeal to Troma / B-grade fans, who - at the very least - will want to see the story behind one of Troma's most popular icons, but it just isn't as polished or imaginative as many of the other "classics" that Troma has produced. The fun factor and hysterically repellent nature of the film (how anyone was under the impression that this was going to appeal to families when two young children are knifed in the opening few minutes of the film is beyond me) overcome a lot of the issues, but there's too much crammed into here, and not much of it is cohesive. I'll take Toxie any day.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††The video is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

†††The transfer is quite good, lacking the faded dull look that a lot of the other Troma releases have, while being sharp and colourful. Some scenes fare better than others - look no further than the infamous chase sequence to see bright, sharp colours as Griswold-clown unicycles from danger, cut together with a nastier, gritty clip of the car flipping over that's been used in three different Troma films to date, and probably has a good reason to look worse.

Shadow detail is not very good; in dark scenes there's almost no detail at all (see the night scene at 83:19). There are few film artefacts across the transfer, however several instances of cross-colouration are very jolting, including 27:53 and 82:21.

†††There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

†††For a low budget film, this audio track is very effective. Although simplistic, lacking any surround and using minimal subwoofer, it's very clear and very audible, doing the different effects and music justice. The dialogue is clear and there are few problems with ADR sync, and the balance between the musical soundtrack and the dialogue/effects works a treat. Sound effects range from the typical horrific violent sounds to effects you'd usually find in cartoons, which ham up the onscreen action accordingly.

†††The opening credits declare the movie is inspired by Madame Butterfly, which I initially thought was a joke, but it's sprinkled throughout the movie, as are other short opera clips that actually work well with the film's general sense of kitsch. There's also plenty of modern music interweaving with the opera and with the basically awful theme song, all of which somehow work well, cohering better than the film itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Audio

†††The lovely Sgt. Kabukiman theme song adorns the pretty fiery menus, animated with flame and the big image of our hero wielding his flaming chopsticks. Kabuki-man!!

Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman

†††Ahh, what is there to say about the consistently wonderful Lloyd that has not already been said? He introduces the film in a short clip giving thanks to the fans for keeping the Troma Institution alive for so long. Not the film studio, the mental asylum. Unfortunately, this clip is forced every time you want to view the film, which is annoying. In 4:3!

Commentary by co-director Lloyd Kaufman

†††I'm usually a big fan of Lloyd's commentaries, and this is not his best. At first there's a lot of name dropping and pointing out of various Troma friends and family members, something primarily done by poor directors and simian cast members, but later Lloyd really opens up to deliver a lot of fascinating stories that came out of making the movie. Revelations about working with animals (including the monkey, who was a complete pain until he was almost consumed by the tiger, in which he lost his aggressiveness), cheap special effects tricks (that sometimes look pretty darn good) and an incredibly awesome story about an anti-discrimination group that attempted to stop production before finding out that over 3/4 of the production crew was non-white, are just some of the interesting bits and pieces that Lloyd has to talk about. Ultimately, highly recommended.

Mutant Flying Fish Sushi Stills

†††A collection of "never-before-seen" movie stills from the production of Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, these are unfortunately small images that you can scroll through, including some violence, people on fire, people being thrown through windows, people killed by chopsticks, etc.

Radiation March (0:53)

†††An extremely strange, surreal dance clip thatís really a public service announcement against pollution. I have no idea what this is doing on this DVD, aside from being very clearly in the vein of Troma, itís a bizarre though enjoyable addition to the package.

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. Accused of Sexual Harassment (3:54)

†††A short skit in which Sgt. Kabukiman is accused of sexually harassing the most unlikely of victims on the film set, leading to a lawsuit. It's stupid, but undeniably funny.

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. stars in the Tromaville Cafe (5:52)

†††A lengthy, unfunny short from Troma's Edge TV that barely has anything to do with Kabukiman himself, instead it's a promotional skit for two then-upcoming Troma releases. It's predictable, forced and lame - not my cup of tea.

All I Learnt About Filmmaking I Learnt From The Toxic Avenger (1:15)

†††A short trailer for Lloydís book, featuring Michael Herz, Sgt Kabukiman, and a random scantily dressed girl.

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. Gets Animated (2:44)

†††An animated short of our hero Kabukiman fending off The Evil One and his minions, it looks to be in a very similar style to the late great Earthworm Jim and is actually miniature pilot for something similar to Toxic Crusaders, the animated spin-off from The Toxic Avenger. It's got decent production values, but will only appeal to dedicated fans. It's worth noting, though, that the transfer is very nice - there's few of the aliasing / interlacing issues here that are normally present in NTSC cartoons on DVD.

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. Raps (1:46)

†††No.

Aroma Du Troma (2:00)

†††An extremely violent two minute montage of Troma clips advertising their most infamous films, with all the nudity and gore you can poke a stick at. It ends with a car flying through the air into a boat and exploding.

Public Service Announcement (3:37)

†††An excerpt from Tromaís Edge TV offering 90 seconds of uncut gratuitous nudity as a solution to those trapped in a hotel room unable to afford the cost of in-house pornography.

How to Become a Super-Human Hero: Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. Spills His Guts

†††Basically an eight part featurette about making the film, we sit with Rick Gianasi and listen to him discuss everything Kabukiman, from his new-found infamy to eating raw fish to doing the hot love scenes with Susan Byun - it's a decent little featurette on making the film that covers some good ground but feels a little shallow, and ends completely randomly. A nice companion piece to Lloyd's commentary, really a mini-commentary for Gianasi.

Interactive Tour of Troma Studios

†††The same interactive tour as seen on many of the Troma DVDs, this is great fun for fans with several sections to explore. Features extreme violence and gratuitous sexual content!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††The R1 and R4 are identical except for the same omissions plaguing other Aus Troma releases - the Troma Intelligence Test and Trailers are missing - I'd recommend whichever is cheapest, unless you HAVE to own the two extras.

Summary

†††Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. is a flawed though still entertaining Troma film that doesn't reach the same highs as Toxie or Tromeo.

†††The video and audio are both B-grade average.

†††The extras are plentiful and a good mix of grand and ignorable.

†††It's definitely not my favourite Troma film, but it still deserves a place in my collection, as it should any Troma fanboy. Kabuki-man!!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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