Karate Cop (1993) poster

Karate Cop (1993)


USA. 1993.


Director – Alan Roberts, Screenplay – Denny Grayson, Ronald L. Marchini & Bill Zide, Producers – Ronald L. Marchini & Garrick Huey, Photography – Hugh C. Litfin, Music – Cecil Raimrez & Ralph Stover, Special Effects – Paul Hickerson, Makeup – Jo Fife, Art Direction – Stephen Orr. Production Company – Romarc Inc.


Ron Marchini (John Travis), Carrie Chambers (Rachel), D.W. Landingham (Lincoln), Michael Bristow (Snaker), David Carradine (Dad)


In the post-holocaust ruins, a woman Rachel is attacked by wasteland crazies but is saved by John Travis, the last of the lawmen, who singlehandedly kills the mutants using his martial arts. Rachel implores Travis’s help in getting a replacement crystal to power a teleport device so that she can take the orphan children in her care away to safety. Travis sets out to obtain a crystal that is worshipped by the mutants, only to return and find Rachel has been captured by the crazies and is being offered as the prize in a gladiatorial competition.

B-budget sf/action films of the 1990s achieved a peculiar synthesis – one where post-holocaust and Cyberpunk scenarios, killer androids, cyborg cops and various martial arts, ninja and kickboxing action all blended into an interchangeable mix. Karate Cop – not that one would know it is a genre film from its title and not that it appears to matter to the film either – is a fairly bad example among this subgenre.

Karate Cop was one of a handful of video-released films made by the largely forgotten US martial arts star Ron Marchini. Marchini appeared in eleven films between 1974 and 1995, producing most of these himself. Karate Cop is actually a sequel to Marcini’s earlier post-holocaust action film, Omega Cop (1990), where Manchini played John Travis, a lone cop taking on the crazies of the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Ron Marchini and Carrie Chambers in Karate Cop (1993)
Karate cop John Travis (Ron Marchini) and Carrie Chambers

The film has an After the Holocaust setting – although one that never leaves the industrial suburbs in terms of locations. There are psychotic wasteland mutants wearing bad makeup and hideously overacting and a mutant warlord who insists that people fight in gladiatorial combat. There is a small community for the loner hero to defend, a few motorcycle stunts and lots of martial arts action. Hero Ron Marchini attempts to mimic the monosyllabic tight-lipped delivery that Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone manage but this goes hilariously wrong and comes out more as a phlegmatic dopiness.

The whole film is very cheaply made. From the mutant cult that worships the crystal to the girl dancing in the bar wearing what looks like a sheepskin rug for a top, nothing in the film has the slightest conviction. The one scene that does have an uncanny authenticity – it almost gives the impression that the filmmakers were shooting so much on the cheap that they did it for real – is the scene where Ron Marchini pulls a bullet out from his leg with a pair of tweezers and then cauterises the wound.

Trailer here

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