What is Japanese for mumble?
New York Cop (Nyû Yôku No Koppu) (1993): 3 out of 10: The generically named New York Cop is a run of the mill undercover cop story taking place in early nineties New York City back when the Lower East Side still had crime, drugs, and ethnically diverse homeless.
Filmed on location, this Japanese production has a decent enough action, a plot (that while certainly muddled) moves along nicely and that whacky over the top Japanese racism that cracks me up every time. In fact, it is at times as insane as an Italian exploitation film such as 1990: The Bronx Warriors. (Rednecks in Manhattan? Staten Island I could believe, but the Meatpacking district?) It has one fatal flaw, however. It stars Tôru Nakamura.
Toru doesn’t seem to be able to speak English. In fact, he really doesn’t seem to be able to speak at all. To cover the fact he really doesn’t speak at all, he instead makes those noises that the teachers in the Peanuts’ cartoons. And to cover up that fact, he speaks at such a low volume you will be straining to hear a word. This isn’t always fatal to a film. I’ve seen dozens of badly dubbed European exploitation films where a character or two is unintelligible. But Toru is in almost every bloody scene, and it becomes irritating quickly.
Now you may defend him by admitting that not every bujutsu cop can be Jackie Chan. This, of course, is a fair argument if Jackie Chan wasn’t already in the film with a minor role. (Fun fact. As far as I can tell Jackie Chan is not associated with this film. I don’t know what I was thinking when I originally wrote this review in 2008. Apparently there is a character that looks just like Jackie Chan. Also, having no Jackie Chan in the movie really isn’t a fun fact. Well, back to the review already in progress.) In fact, the rest of the cast is so good one wonders if our lead cardboard cutout isn’t somebody’s nephew or something.
Along with Jackie Chan is Mira Sorvino as the love interest with the Eighties hair and sweater. Tony Sirico (Paulie from The Sopranos) as the Mob guy: Relative unknown Chad McQueen (Who easily gives the best performance in the film) as the “good guy” gang leader and Sorvino’s overprotective brother. Hell, it even has a decent run by Andreas Katsulas (The one armed guy in the Harrison Ford version of The Fugitive). If they had given Chan (or Chad) the lead role and tightened the story a little bit, this could have worked.
If you are going to go to the trouble of making a good movie, you might want to jettison the Serpico reject undercover cop, the horrible soundtrack during the Sorvino sex scene, and the Dukes of Hazard rejects gang. I was in the Lower East Side of New York in the early nineties, and I still don’t recall any large group of hillbillies flying confederate flags.