Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.
is a 1991
comedic superhero film
directed by Lloyd Kaufman
and Michael Herz
and distributed by Troma Entertainment
The film follows Detective Harry Griswold (Rick Gianasi), a clumsy New York cop investigating a string of murders involving Kabuki
actors. While attending a Kabuki play, Harry witnesses mobsters gun down the entire cast. In the ensuing gunfight, Harry is forcefully kissed by one of the dying actors, unknowingly becoming blessed with the powers of Kabuki. Before he knows it, Griswold finds out that he has the ability to transform into Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.
, a colorfully-dressed superhero who has the ability to fly and access to such unique weapons as lethal chopsticks and fatal sushi.
With the beautiful Lotus (Susan Byun), the two help clean up the crime-ridden streets of New York and try to stop a maniacal businessman (Bill Weeden) who plans to fulfill an ancient evil prophecy that will summon demonic powers and enslave the world.
While filming The Toxic Avenger Part II
in Japan, where the original Toxic
was a major hit, Kaufman and Herz were approached by Tetsu Fujimura
and Masaya Nakamura
to create a Kabuki-themed superhero movie, supposedly based on an idea by Kaufman. Namco became a producer up front, giving Troma a one and a half million dollar budget to begin preproduction, the most expensive film in Troma history.
Unfortunately, creative differences troubled production from the start. Both Namco and Herz wanted a mainstream-accessible film geared towards kids, where as Kaufman wanted the usual Troma-esque sex and violence angle. In the end, Kaufman had his way and Kabukiman was turned into an R-rated comedy in the vein of Troma's previous films. A PG-13 cut was shown to the film's investors who, thoroughly dissatisfied, withdrew their distribution deals. Although Kaufman screened Kabukiman at Cannes for several years, the movie did not see theatrical distribution until 1996.
Although Kabukiman received some positive reviews from both The New York Times and The New York Post (whose quotes are prominently features on the video package), most Troma fans have mixed feelings towards the film. Though some consider it a classic to rival the original Toxic Avenger, most find it a slow-paced, uneven mix between family-friendly fare and Troma-esque sex and violence.
The Car Flip
Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.
is perhaps best known for its car chase scene, which climaxes when a blue sedan strikes another vehicle, flips upside-down 30 feet in the air, lands, and then inexplicably explodes. Five years later, the exact same footage was used in a scene in Tromeo and Juliet
for not only being cost-effective, but also because Kabukiman
had yet to be widely distributed on video (and thus brought some confusion as to which movie the footage originated from).
Despite obvious continuity flaws, Troma has managed to fit in the same footage into each of their films as a tongue-in-cheek homage, including Terror Firmer, Poultrygeist, and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV.
Plans for a Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. animated series also went into the works, however the series never went to production. There had only been an animated teaser that was completed, it has since been made available as a bonus feature on the Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. DVD. The cartoon was to feature the Kabukiman character, and a number of Japanese themed super-heroes fighting crime in New York, with similar paralells to Troma's other animated spin-off, Toxic Crusaders
The Future of Kabukiman
Since the film's video debut in 1996, Sgt. Kabukiman has gone on to make several appearances in the "Tromaverse", becoming one of the company's most well-known mascots next to The Toxic Avenger. Kabukiman (played by Paul Krymse in a simpler costume) can be seen in a number of Troma commercials and video introductions throughout the 90s. Most notably, Kabukiman was one of the prominent figures on Troma's Edge TV
, where he appeared in a short parody
of old public service announcement
films, entitled Sgt. Kabukiman Public Service Announcement
, which was directed by former Troma employee and current Hollywood director/screenwriter James Gunn
The character of Kabukiman made the return to the silver screen in 2001's Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV, where he was once again played by Paul Krymse. In the film, Kabukiman has gone from a serious superhero to a pathetic, drunken has-been who is looked upon with disdain by the citizens of Tromaville (this change is most likely due to fan backlash from the original film). Kabukiman is also portrayed as "Evil Kabukiman" in an alternate universe: a less wacky, more threatening villain.
Since 2000, there have been rumors that a sequel, Sgt. Kabukiman L.A.P.D., would be made, but as of 2008, there are no plans to revive the character.
A sequel/spin-off called "Sgt.Kabukiman and the Lesbians of Bonejack High" started production in early 2006, but was ultimately never finished.