Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” is that kind of zany superhero spoof that, with some watering down, probably could have been a Warner Bros. cartoon in the nineties. After having such immense success with Toxie, Troma makes a second grab for cult fame, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle once again. Thankfully, not only is Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. one of Troma’s most iconic and popular characters who stands proudly beside Toxie, but his movie is good to boot. “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” is filled with the typical Troma tropes that make it such a blast. The acting is iffy, the violence is gruesome, the humor is off the wall and original, and the pacing is break neck.
Even with the movie being about a kabukiman who is also a cop, Kaufman and Herz never sidestep Troma’s signature gore. It’s especially fun to see Sgt. Kabukiman fight villains using goofy Asian clichés and cultural elements. One moment has him stab a thug to death with a ton of chop sticks, while another instance he traps a pimp and prostitute in a seaweed wrap and chops them up in to human sushi rolls. If you can appreciate silliness and rough around the edges direction, “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” goes whole hog for the execution. Kaufman and Herz successfully unfolds what is easily one of the most original heroes ever conceived, and oddly enough also manages to spare commentary about religious corruption, and political corruption. Harry Griswald is one in many of overworked police officers in New York who is chasing a vicious street gang, and wiles his days away gobbling down junk food.
Every generation one man is given the soul of a mystical Kabuki master allowing him to fight crime as superhero Kabuki man. When the current Kabuki man is murdered, Harry is accidentally possessed and endowed with the powers of the titular hero thanks to a dying shaman. He then becomes the chosen one to fight evil as the vicious Kabuki Man, and must also learn how to use his powers. Armed with a ton of magical weapons, including an ancient katana, he seeks to bring down an evil businessman and his partner, who happens to be an inner city pastor. With the help of the enigmatic woman Lotus, he begins launching an assault on the bad guys, especially after his long time partner is murdered after being sexually attacked in a park. Troma is never afraid to dip in to bad taste humor, either, as Kaufman and Herz stages the off screen stabbing deaths of two small children.
Not to mention Kabukiman has methods of stopping criminals involving ramen noodles, and a powerful hand fan. That said, while “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” is a good time overall, the movie sags right in the middle with a lot of building up to the climax, and an inexplicable scene where Harry transforms in to a circus clown after failing to master transforming in to Kabukiman. It’s never explained why he turned in to a clown, and it’s never mentioned again, so it ends up feeling a lot like filler. Chopped down to ninety minutes “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” could have been a great movie, but as is, Kaufman and Herz’s film is just an entertaining, zany, and proudly politically incorrect diversion with a charmingly outside the box concept.
The Blu-Ray from Troma features a commentary by co-writer and director Lloyd Kaufman. There’s a six minute interview with actor Rick Gianasi who finds the star for Sgt. Kabukiman at a convention, and catches up with Kaufman, both of whom discuss the legacy of Kabukiman. “Kabukiman Karaoke” is a two minute visit with the Troma Convention panel, where onlookers participate in a sing along of the “Sgt. Kabukiman” theme song. “Kabukiman Cocktail Corner” is a twelve minute talk show hosted by the superhero whose guest is a tipsy Kaufman, and Brian Quinn, star of “Impractical Jokers.” Quinn is a fan of Troma, and reveals he wrote a treatment for them fifteen years prior. “Stupid Moments in Troma History” is a three minute fake news item about Sgt. Kabukiman and his potential involvement in the assassination of JFK. Finally, there’s the five minute highlight reel for “Tromadance 2015,” and the original trailer for the movie.