“Beware his projectile toupee…”
That tagline pretty much sums up what you’ll be getting yourself into if you decide to check out Minoru Kawasaki’s The Rug Cop, a lampoon of detective and crime films in the vein of the hilarious Naked Gun series. Just like how the antics of Leslie Neilson made those films stand-out, The Rug Cop has its own hook that makes it head-and-shoulders above most: a guy that uses his hairpiece as a weapon. Ah, the wonderful world of Minoru Kawasaki…
Detective Hatsuo Genda has recently been transferred to a new precinct for work; he’s often shuffled around from station to station, even though he has the highest arrest rate in the Metropolitan area. People seem to think he’s a weirdo, more than likely due to the fact that he uses his toupee as a weapon. It’s a talent he discovered after seeing the destruction throwing his hairpiece could cause when he tossed it out of frustration because of his girlfriend breaking off their relationship once she found out he was actually bald.
The precinct he’s been sent to work for isn’t thought very highly of, so it’s much to their surprise when a DVD from a terrorist group shows up at their station. The video shows the group hijacking a truck transporting Uranium-235, a material capable of triggering a nuclear chain reaction. Before they begin to work on the case, members of the NSA arrive and demand the investigation be turned over to them. Unfazed, Genda and the rest of the detectives decide they’re more than capable to crack a case like this, and begin digging deeper into the evidence they’ve uncovered. Can Genda and his under-appreciated partners save Japan from a nuclear holocaust?
Minoru Kawasaki seems to have an uncanny knack at perfectly spoofing whatever genre he’s attempting to, and The Rug Cop is no different. Here, he draws inspiration from Japanese fiction such as Zenigata Heiji, a police officer who would subdue criminals by expertly throwing coins at them, as well as 1970’s cop shows. He hits all of the clichés present in the genre, such as the overuse of dramatic camera close-ups when something is revealed by a character and the over-the-top twists that generally come at the end of these types of stories. The higher agency attempting to take over a case from a lower one is also a hallmark often found in police procedurals. I got a pretty big kick out of the stab taken at attempting to trace a phone call from a criminal; when told to “stretch it out” by the boss, Genda begins to carry the phone around the room, stretching the phone-line.
Many laughs will be had just by the extreme stereotyping of the members of the precinct that Detective Genda is sent to work for. Instead of using their actual names, they all go by nicknames that describe either their physical attributes or their special talent. Genda is given the nickname of Detective Rug, and the other members of the agency include Detective Shorty (short but mighty), Detective Fatty (can disable wrongdoers with a flood of sweat), Detective Old Man (an old dude!), Detective Handsome (looks so good female criminals turn themselves in to be interrogated), and without a doubt the best of the lot, Detective Big Dick. I’m not even going to leave this one up to your imagination; yes, he’s got a big member. So big in fact that he uses it as a weapon and it can be used in getting the guys out of sticky situations (I could have chosen better wording, but what the hell?) Adding to the comedic effect is that in Japan, you can’t show genitalia, so the mighty “sword” is depicted as a red-glowing lightsabre. And before you ask, yes, Detective Big Dick’s Schwartz is bigger than yours.
By the aforementioned nicknames of the agents as well as their bizarre talents, you could probably surmise that the group is pretty inept and bumbling. This becomes all the more evident with some of the deadpan, ridiculous dialogue delivered by the characters. After finding a mysterious note that ends with “Hot Lip”, the detectives convene and try to decipher the meaning behind it, only to come up with amazing deductions such as, “Well, could it mean that lips are hot?” The terrorists aren’t exactly Ivy-leaguers either; a video sent to the cops telling them about a bomb going off is full of them sneezing due to allergies and one guy begging to do the video over as he felt he didn’t sound menacing enough.
The film is shot in a subdued manner, mimicking the look of cop dramas quite nicely, although Kawasaki isn’t afraid to inject some style with audacious lighting here and there to accentuate certain scenes. The soundtrack sounds like it was ripped straight out of an episode of Baretta, and is perfectly executed. Kawasaki also does a great job at keeping a tight leash on the film and not letting it get out of hand. The film runs at just under 80 minutes, so the wackiness isn’t really given too much time to wear out its welcome, once again showing that Kawasaki definitely has an excellent understanding of how to make these types of films work.
My only gripe with the film comes from the obligatory musical number that Kawasaki feels he has to include in every one of his films. In The Rug Cop, he takes a different approach, where a song is played while we see the passing of time and Genda going about his day. It’s not in the same vein as his other films, where people dance and various singers come in and out, and it doesn’t really tell a story either. The lyrics are somewhat humorous, spouting off about the trials and tribulations of a man that’s forced to wear a hairpiece, but I just didn’t find it as amusing as the music interludes found in his previous films.
By now, you should definitely understand what you’re getting going into a film directed by Minoru Kawasaki. The Rug Cop, like The World Sinks Except Japan, deviates a bit by focusing more on absurd situations and weird personal accessories more-so than giant anthropomorphic creatures, but unlike The World Sinks Except Japan, The Rug Cop hits a bullseye. The end of the film indicates that there may be more on the way from this rag-tag group of detectives, and I for one can’t wait!
The Rug Cop is the final entry in Synapse Films’ Minoru Kawasaki Collection, and the release is of the same high standard set by the first two. The film is presented in a great-looking 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen print that looks good all around. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is very nice, and the subtitles are top-notch.
Extras include a making of featurette that has some behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. Some special effects tricks are revealed and some stories about the films production are told. The disc also includes introductions from the cast and crew, which set up the film nicely, and some footage from a Japanese press conference where those involved with the film answer questions regarding the film. Overall, these three extras tend to repeat some things between them, so you may not want to take them in all at once. A theatrical trailer rounds off the disc. Highly recommended for fans of Kawasaki or The Naked Gun series.
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