Karate Cop (1991)

PLOT: John Travis is the last known honest cop stuck in a futuristic, post apocalyptic America while trying to retain some order in whatever is left in his god forsaken town.

Director: Alan Roberts
Writers: Denny Grayson, Ronald L. Marchini and Billy Zide
Cast: Ronald L. Marchini, Carrie Chambers, Michael E. Bristow, D.W. Landingham and David Carradine.

PLOT THICKENER: In a broken-down society where it's every man for himself, there's only one man who can instil order and that man is John Travis AKA Karate Cop (Marchini). And while he is instilling this so-called order, he saves a young woman named Rachel (Chambers) and learns that she is the leader of the 'Freebies'. You may be wondering what the hell are the 'Freebies'? -- and no, it isn't that cheap toy you get in a Happy Meal (that might be better). The 'Freebies' are a group of kids who resemble The Goonies or the lost boys from Peter Pan if you covered them in mud, dirt, and anything else that can be found in a post apocalyptic wasteland (or your backyard). Essentially, they're  freedom fighters. In exchange for hot food and a motorbike, John takes on the neighbourhood gang run by Lincoln (Landingham). His gang of fighters and roughnecks make the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story look like actual badasses. Sure, they may look muddy, ugly and all that is required to be in a gang, but they're just, well...lame.

Is there good fight choreography in this film? It's okay, but I think it's below average. Maybe it's because of the editing, or that they were just trying to make all the fighters look like brawlers.  I felt a little underwhelmed by the quantity of the fighting too, I was actually hoping for a lot more. With "Karate" in the main title, I was hoping for actual Karate-ing. Instead, I got dialogue that didn't need to be there as well as dead pan acting. Okay, okay -- I didn't go into this thinking I was going to get decent acting...but at least TRY! I find these kinds of films a ton more entertaining when the actors make an honest attempt at drama. I will take my hat off to Landingham, though, because while his character was annoying, you can tell he was really trying to get involved into his role despite the fact his costume was probably pissing him off more than anything.

I think the most interesting things in this film were the set pieces. The whole time I was watching this, I was thinking of all the different film sets it reminded me of, and which films I'd possibly seen them in. After a while, I stopped actively paying attention to the plot... oh wait, what plot? But the set pieces were kind of interesting as well as funny, because they reminded me of an old amusement park which closed down crossed with those really bad film sets that look like the same tiny room. So, they use the same set over and over again and move props around to make it look different. You're not fooling anyone, guys.

If you're a big fan of the low-budget action films out there and you've seen this, you would have definitely noticed that the music used throughout the film is used in hundreds of other films out around the same time. Whenever I heard the music, different fight scenes from other films came into my head and again distracted me.

Over the years Karate Cop has produced a cult following, especially since it's a slight rip-off of better post-apocalyptic films like 1990: Bronx Warriors and Escape from New York. But while those two films have charismatic performances, some hilarious dialogue and exceptionally badass scenes, Karate Cop was below average. It doesn't have the 'schlock' vibe that I look for in these kinds of films. It was on the right track in terms of the look and you can see the budget constraints, so I understand that. However, almost everything else fell flat, and overall it was dull experience.


1 / 7

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