Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D.

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Animation & Audio
Photo Gallery
Featurette - Circumstantial Evidence
Featurette - Bonsai Interactivity
Trailer - The Rowdy Girls
Trailer - The Toxic Avenger
Trailer - The Chosen One: Legend Of The Raven
Rating r.gif (1169 bytes)
Year Released 1990
Running Time
104:59 Minutes
(Not 154 Minutes as per packaging)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (71:04)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Michael Herz
Lloyd Kaufman
Lloyd Kaufman Productions 
Tribe Entertainment
Starring Rick Gianasi
Susan Byun
Bill Weeden
Case Transparent Soft Brackley
RPI $39.95 Music Bob Mithoff

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame? English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1?
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes, Sgt. Kabukiman smokes (literally) during the transformations
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    One thing you have to admire about Troma Studios and their leader, Lloyd Kaufman, is their artistic integrity. They never let their lack of money, decent actors, credible plots, or technical proficiency get in the way of their dedication to making films that are truly way out there. Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. is a perfect example of this, with a ridiculous central premise supported by bad acting and music that sounds like it was recorded about five years before the film's actual year of release.

    The film begins with Lotus (Susan Byun) and her grandfather, Sato (Fumio Furuya), performing a magic ceremony of some kind, while Lotus drones on about a prophecy that when certain astrological events take place, and the world is in its most violent state, an evil being will rise to plunge the world into darkness forever. The only thing that can stop the evil one, naturally enough, is the Kabukiman. Wait a minute, haven't I reviewed a Troma film with this plot before?

    Nonetheless, we soon find that the current Kabukiman, Ichiro (Masahiro Yamaguchi) and his occidental wife (Traci Mann) have an unwelcome guest in their home, who proceeds to kill them and their children. One of the policemen assigned to investigate is Sergeant Harry Griswold (Rick Gianasi), who goes to see an amateur Kabuki theatre performance. As luck and a Troma script would have it, Sato is one of the performers in this play, and the whole event has been organised by Reginald Stuart (Bill Weeden) as a trap to eliminate Sato. When Sato is killed by Stuart's men, led by the oddly-named Rembrandt (Thomas Crnkovich), Griswold attempts to apprehend the villains, only to be given one of the most disgusting on-screen kisses I have ever seen by the dying Sato.

    This, of course, is the method by which Sato passes on the powers of the Kabukiman to Harry Griswold, who, over the course of the next reel, becomes Sgt. Kabukiman. Unfortunately, this is not a smooth transition for him, with his initial exploits hampered by a lack of coordination and control, not to mention his general unwillingness to become the saviour of the world. However, after his lack of control results in his being suspended by Captain Bender (Noble Lee Lester), Lotus straightens him out and trains him to make use of his powers. Meanwhile, one of Kabukiman's colleagues, Connie LaRosa (Pamela Alster), is investigating Reverend Snipes (Larry Robinson), a corrupt minister who works for Stuart. Stuart finds out about this and sends his thugs to kill her, which they do with true Troma style.

    From there on, it's an all-out war as Kabukiman uses an array of Kabuki weaponry such as bullet-proof fans and heat-seeking chopsticks to bring down Stuart, who becomes possessed by the spirit of the Evil One. What's even more frightening about this film, other than the revolting worm-eating sequences and the gore, is the fact that a sequel, Sgt. Kabukiman, L.A.P.D., is planned for release in 2002. This is definitely a recommended film for bad-movie nights, so sink your teeth right in.

Transfer Quality


    Again, we're dealing with a fiercely independent production from a studio that seems to pride itself on making films that are so bad they're good, so the usual allowances need to be made. Having said that, however, this is the best transfer of a Troma production I have seen on DVD to date. I don't think this is because of the transfer process itself, but more because the source materials were in better shape.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. I am still willing to give Tribe the benefit of the doubt and go with my feeling that this is how Lloyd Kaufman intended for the picture to be presented, but if anyone can confirm or deny this, feel free to let me know.

    The transfer is sharp, more so than any other Troma release I have reviewed to date, although it is still nothing to get particularly excited about. The shadow detail is acceptable, but is not all that much to rave about, and there is no low-level noise.

    The colour saturation of this transfer is mostly dull and subdued, partially due to the age of the film stock. The exception to this is the Sgt. Kabukiman costume, which looks especially funny in the context of the drab New York locations. Some cross-colouration artefacts were noticed from time to time, unfortunately, but these were acceptable since they were infrequent.

    MPEG artefacts weren't a real problem for this transfer, although some motion blur becomes apparent when the film is played in slow-motion. Although this isn't how people normally watch movies, it is still a slight disappointment considering how rare it has become in recent releases. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a moiré effect on the back of a lounge chair at 27:15, a moiré effect on Griswold's suit jacket at 30:25, and a combined moiré with cross-colouration at 36:45, as well as some telecine wobble during the end credits. These were the most noticeable film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, though they were only moderately distracting. Film artefacts consisted of numerous nicks and scratches on the picture, but these were slightly less pervasive than what I was expecting.

    This disc makes use of the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 71:04. This is during a natural fade-to-black, making it very hard to notice, not to mention completely non-disruptive to the flow of the film.


    Again, we have an audio transfer that can be best described as functional, but nothing special. There is only one soundtrack provided on this DVD, which does make my job easier, although the absence of foreign dubs or an isolated score is somewhat disappointing. However, it is not totally unexpected that we only get the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, with a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is usually clear and easy to make out, although the level at which the dialogue has been mixed into the overall soundtrack seemed to vary at times. Some of the quiet dialogue sequences in such places as Captain Bender's office were a little muffled, and the higher frequencies were a little edgy, but these were only minor problems. There were no real problems with audio sync, except for some rather marginal ADR at times. A brief drop-out was heard at 91:44, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that this was just sloppy editing.

    The music in this film can be divided into three parts: contemporary numbers coordinated by Reggie Atkinson, a theme song by Dan Skye and Paul Short, and a score by Bob Mithoff that was, according to the credits, inspired by Madame Butterfly. Like the movie, it is thoroughly B-grade and very proud of it.

    The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack, which is a slight pity considering the opportunities presented by the sounds of flying chopsticks. In any case, the subwoofer took mild amounts of redirected signal and added a nice floor to the soundtrack in spite of not being specifically encoded. Overall, the soundtrack is a good, but not great, example of a stereo soundtrack.


    Once again we are treated to a plethora of extras, presented in true Tromatic style.


    The main menu features an introduction, some moderate animation, and a 48 kHz Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack. The scene selection menu also features some moderate animation and a 48 kHz Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette - Circumstantial Evidence

    Selecting this option takes the viewer to a sub-menu with a list of featurettes. In order, these are Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. Stars In The Tromaville Cafe (5:50), Everything I Know About Film Making I Learned From The Toxic Avenger [scary thought] (1:15), Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. Gets Animated (2:44), Radiation March (0:54), Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. Raps (1:46), Aroma Du Troma (2:00), Public Service Announcement (2:48), and How To Become A Super-Human Hero: Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. Spills His Guts, which leads to yet another sub-menu of featurettes. The featurettes contained under that sub-menu are It Took Nine Tries (3:17), You Lose Friends At Troma (1:10), Sgt. Kabukiman's Directorial Debut (1:13), Mouthful Of Fish (1:30), More Is Better In Troma (0:37), Animal Friends (0:42), Sgt. Kabukiman Ad Libs (0:41), and Love Scenes In Troma (0:37). This last group of featurettes features commentary by Rick Gianasi about the making of the film, although I really wish they could have been grouped together, or maybe a commentary track could have been provided for the whole film. Each featurette is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - Bonsai Interactivity

   Featuring an introduction by Lloyd Kaufman, this option leads to a sub-menu of featurettes, detailing what goes on in the Troma Entertainment studios. Each featurette is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Be warned that one of these featurettes succeeded in ruining my ability to eat dinner, and I am sure that others will have the same effect for other viewers.

Photo Gallery

    A series of stills from the film, with no annotation.

Trailer - The Rowdy Girls

    Clocking in at one minute and fifty-eight seconds, this Full Frame, Dolby Digital 2.0 trailer also condenses the story of the film into a more economical running time, while giving a small taste of the real reason to watch this film.

Trailer - The Toxic Avenger

    This three-minute and eleven-second trailer is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It suffers from poor shadow detail and low resolution, but it provides a good source of laughter.

Trailer - The Chosen One: Legend Of The Raven

    Presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this two minute and eighteen second trailer condenses the entire story of the ninety-minute film into a more tolerable form. Of course, it doesn't feature the scenes where Carmen Electra takes her clothes off, so you'll have to buy the disc to see those.


    As far as we have been able to ascertain, there are no censorship issues with the film on this disc.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The choice is rather hard to make, given that it is between an audio commentary that is reportedly quite amusing and the better video quality afforded by RSDL formatting. Unfortunately, importing the R1 disc carries the risk of having it seized and being fined by customs, so it may be better to simply accept what we have been given on the local disc.


    Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. is a hilarious, ridiculous, revolting, and ultimately enjoyable send-up of the crappy superhero films from the "golden years" of Hollywood. It is worth watching just to see people getting killed with chopsticks, or to see Susan Byun naked. What more can you possibly desire if you're contemplating buying a film like this one?

    The video quality is reasonable.

    The audio quality is okay.

    The extras are numerous.

Ratings (out of 5)

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 © Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
April 7, 2001 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer