Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (Stomp Visual) (1990) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1990|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Noble Lee Lester
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||No Audio Data available for this title|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
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!!
|DVD||LG LH-D6230, using Component output|
|Display||Benq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)|