Hollywood Cop

Director: Amir Shervan
James Mitchum, Cameron Mitchell, David Goss

When it comes to culture, we more often than not first think of the very one that we are living in. But it's healthy to learn and think about other cultures as well - it tells us that there are many different opinions and practices out there. Though that's not to say that sometimes when learning about a different culture, you might be confused at first about the details. When I was growing up, my parents - who were born and raised in England and later moved to the country that I currently live in - told me various stories about how in their younger years they encountered various foreign things that confused them in various ways. For example, my father once told me a story about himself when he was a boy during World War II. One day, his parents invited to their farm an American serviceman for dinner. The dinner went well until dessert - a cake - was served. The American serviceman proceeded to eat his cake with a fork, which kind of dumbfounded my father - apparently, that kind of practice wasn't done in England, at least all those years ago. My mother told me another story, something that happened to her years ago not long after she and my father moved to my country. She got a job as an elementary school teacher, and on the first day of her class, she decided to give her child students a safety lesson. She told her students that when they were to walk home at the end of the day, they should always walk on the pavement. Huh? you are probably saying. Well, my mother explained this to me by telling me that in England, the people there call the sidewalk "the pavement". Naturally, when my mother soon after found out what "the pavement" was considered in my country, she was very embarrassed by what she had said, and had to make a quick correction to her students the very next day.

It's not just ordinary people who can get confused and/or misguided about the culture of another country. It can happen in business as well, one such business being the motion picture industry. Let me give you an example of this, one that concerns a Hollywood movie that came out several years ago, the movie 47 Ronin, which starred Keanu Reeves. That movie was officially a retelling of the famous true story of 47 samurais who in the eighteenth century took a long and hard journey to avenge the death of their master. It's been filmed a number of times, but in this Hollywood production, the producers decided to jazz it up for a modern day audience. They added (among other things) gigantic monsters, sorcery, and a half-Japanese samurai (played of course by Reeves.) I watched the movie on DVD not long after it came out on that format, and I absolutely hated it. It seemed to be a slap in the face to anyone who was Japanese, with all those radically new elements in the movie. I imagine that there are some Americans reading this who are saying, "Oh, come on now - it was just a movie!" Well, to those particular American readers, I say this: What would you think if some Japanese filmmakers made a movie about America's Founding Fathers, though adding in a Japanese character who helped out Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock et at., while adding some gigantic monsters along the way that had to be killed? See? It's just as stupid of an idea as the Keanu Reeves movie. Another example can be found with a movie I reviewed several years back, Hachi: A Dog's Tale. While I liked that movie, I was a little disturbed that the filmmakers took the true story - which had taken place in Japan - and set it in America with American characters.

But to be fair with Hollywood, there are certainly a lot of examples around the world of foreign filmmakers not being able to fully understand American culture. Such was the case of movie director Amir Shervan. "Who?" you are saying? Well, I'll explain the best I can, since I Hollywood Copcould uncover little information about the man. Shervan was born and raised in pre-revolution Iran, and became a movie director, apparently making movies that were real movies. But when the Iranian revolution happened, Shervan was apparently frowned upon (or worse) by the new government, and found it very difficult to get the movies made he wanted to make. Eventually, he moved to the United States, where before his death he made five American movies. But as it turned out, Shervan not only didn't have quite a good grip on American culture, his skill was worthy of such directors as Ed Wood. I was able to confirm this years ago, when I saw his legendary Samurai Cop, which was unbelievably (and hilariously) bad, so much so that I can't remember why I didn't review it. But when I recently came across in a dusty used DVD store a copy of Shervan's Hollywood Cop, I knew I had a second chance to inform my readers of the still pretty obscure works of this unforgettable man. The movie starts off by proclaiming it is a production by "Peacock Films", and we see the logo of the company, a hand drawn peacock. Right from this point I started to think that Shervan and his cronies weren't as proud as their logo. The credits commence to be placed on the screen, and when the lead actors' names are listed, we see them listed on sidewalk stars as part of Hollywood's Walk Of Fame. I admit that this is a creative touch for a movie that supposed to be about a Hollywood cop, though at the same time I got the feeling that for this particular cast - which includes James Mitchum, Cameron Mitchell, Troy Donahue, and Aldo Ray - this was the closest they ever got to some kind of award during their careers.

After the opening credits have concluded, the story starts at the estate of California mobster boss Feliciano (Mitchum, Trackdown). Feliciano's goons are hanging out around the pool, trying to put on the charm on several women there. One goon by the name of "Animal" tries to pick up one woman by simply going up to her and making out with her. When his suave charms are rejected by the woman and Animal is further pushed away by the woman's goon boyfriend standing right next to her, he immediately goes up to another woman. "When this job's over, I'm going to pick you up!" Animal barks to the woman. "F**k you, she's with me!" yells the second woman's goon boyfriend standing next to her. There is a little scuffle, and Animal puts on further charm by embracing the woman aggressively, but soon he and the other goons put on a professional air when Feliciano walks in. Feliciano questions one of his goons if they have got the layout of a certain ranch. After learning that they do, Feliciano tells his goons that although he wants his goons to snatch a certain kid at the ranch, he wants them to leave the kid's mother alive. He also says he doesn't want any witnesses. (Wait - what about the mother?) Animal offers to kill everyone with a hearty laugh, prompting Feliciano to tell his goons to keep an eye on Animal since he is acting very strange.

A few seconds later, we cut to a new location, apparently the ranch that Feliciano was talking about. Various ranch hands are hard at work, and we meet single mother Rebecca (Julie Schoenhofer) and her very young son Stevie (Brandon Angle). The tranquil quiet is soon broken by the arrival of Feliciano's goons a short distance away. As they get out of their cars, it's shown that both cars were completely packed with mobsters. At first I thought that maybe they were planning to place Stevie in the trunk after nabbing him, but then we see them opening the trunks of their cars to get out their guns and ski masks. The mobsters are still wearing their suits and ties, by the way - glad they are so professionally dressed when getting down and dirty. Anyway, they run from their cars to the ranch, and once there start blasting their guns at the various ranch residents. Several ranch residents are killed, though also a few of the mobsters. Well, maybe the mobsters expected a few losses on their part would give them room in their cars. Rebecca grabs Stevie and the two try to hide, but they are eventually found in their hiding place. Rebecca is slugged unconscious and the mobsters take Stevie with them, leaving a note behind.

We return to Feliciano's estate. Feliciano enters a room wearing a dark blue blazer over a Hawaiian shirt, and after taking care of some unrelated business, is told over the telephone by his goons that they have Stevie. Why does Feliciano want Stevie? We soon find out when we cut back to the ranch, where one of the ranch hands (oops, the goons left witnesses!) reads out loud the note that was left for Rebecca. Apparently her husband owes six million dollars to Feliciano, money that Feliciano wants back. The note tells Rebecca that once she gets the money, to walk on Hollywood Boulevard near the Chinese Theater, where they will see her. The note also warns that if Rebecca should contact the police, she will never see her son again. Well, I think that earlier massacre would have got the police's attention, but never mind. Rebecca decides she will go to the Hollywood police, but once she reaches Hollywood, she walks out of the police station after visiting it, and then goes down Hollywood Boulevard. Eventually it becomes night, and then once daylight comes again she is still walking. She walked all night? Well, she does appear to be tired in the morning as she walks to a hot dog vendor. This is where we meet the hero of the movie, John Turquise (Goss, She), though from the short conversation he has with the hot dog vendor, he is known to his friends and associates as "Turk".... sometimes. Read on.

Turk sees a police car on the other side of the street pull up to a fleabag hotel, and he excuses himself. Rebecca briefly talks to the hot dog vendor, who tells her that Turk is not only a cop, but "a good cop." "I wonder maybe if he'd be able to help me," Rebecca wonders out loud. We then cut to Turk going up to the uniformed officers across the street, who seem to be in no hurry. When Turk asks his fellow cops as to what they are up to, one of the uniformed officers (in a real casual voice) tells Turk that there is apparently a rape and robbery in progress in the hotel. Their excuse for their waiting around is that they are waiting for one Lieutenant Maxwell to arrive. That doesn't go well for Turk. Reasoning that by the time Maxwell arrives the husband will have been raped as well, he decides to do something now, and he enters the hotel with the two other cops. They get to the floor where the assault is happening, and reach the door of the room where the married couple is being held. Not only do we get to see the boom mike prominently jut into the lower right hand corner of the screen, the actors are so far away (and not saying a word) that one has to wonder why director Shervan thought a boom mike was necessary for that shot in the first place.

Of course, a few seconds later Turk and his fellow officers confront the gang, shots are fired, and soon the criminals are on the run around the hotel and the surrounding property. The criminals are shot and killed one by one by Turk and the other policemen until just one is left. Before Turk and the other policemen can reach the last criminal, the machete-wielding raped woman's husband gets to him first. When the criminal pulls out a switchblade, the enraged husband chops off the criminal's hand with one blow. At this point, Turk and one of the other policemen reach the scene, and the husband presses his machete to the criminal's throat. Turk shows off his sensitive side by telling the husband, "Look mister, I know this guy just f**ked your wife, but he's our prisoner now." Apparently Turk wasn't sensitive enough, because with one prompt move of his machete, the husband cuts the criminal's head clean off, and it bounces on the ground. The uniformed police officer at Turk's side immediately throws up.

We cut to a short time later at Turk's precinct, where he's being chewed out by his captain, Bonano (Mitchell, The Klansman). Bonano yells at Turk, "Three people are dead, one officer wounded, and McKay is still in the john puking his guts out! You're a f**king maniac, Turkey!" Turk protests that he was just trying to use some "common sense", which doesn't go down well with Bonano or the observing Lieutenant Maxwell (Troy Donahue, Cockfighter). "You should have waited like you were supposed to!" whines Maxwell in a real upset tone of voice. But there would be no movie if Turk were fired, so Bonano just tells Turk to get out of there. Once Turk leaves the police station with his partner Jaguar (Lincoln Kilpatrick, Flicks) the hot dog vendor right outside the station says, "Hey, Turkey!" to our hero, which doesn't seem to bother him. When Turk observes Rebecca nearby crying, he asks the hot dog vendor what's going on. "She's a little upset - her son got kidnapped," the hot dog vendor tells Turk. Turk and Jaguar go to Rebecca to comfort and assure her that the police will do their best for her case. Though once the two cops learn that Lt. Maxwell is on the case, they know things could be handled a lot better. So they invite Rebecca out to coffee to discuss the case.

Over coffee at the local Arby's restaurant (personally, I wouldn't trust anyone who likes Arby's), we learn that Rebecca's husband left her over a year ago, so she is unable to contact him. Turk tells Jaguar to find the case file held by Maxwell and to make a copy so he and Jaguar can make their own investigation. When Rebecca mentions that she is without a place to stay, Turk cheerfully tells her that he had just inherited a home from his aunt and she can stay in a spare room. I imagine other women would find such an offer creepy, but Rebecca accepts Turk's invitation. We then cut to Stevie holed up in some home elsewhere. Two goons enter the room with a dog, and start yelling at Stevie about how he's giving them problems and they curse Stevie's troublesome father. Then one of the goods yells, "If you get out of line, he's going to eat you for dinner!" Wait, who will do the eating - the dog, or Stevie's father? While we ponder that question, the goons and the dog leave Stevie's room. Though once alone, Stevie, upon seeing the dog patrolling outside, makes a plan to befriend the dog. Despite his awkward and strident voice, he manages to calm the dog down enough that the dog puts its paws on the bottom of the window frame so it can look in. However, it's odd that when the dog does that, the paws of the dog are nowhere to be seen in some close-up shots of Stevie when the bottom of the window frame is shown.

At Turk's place, Turk decides with Jaguar and Rebecca as to what to do next. Jaguar has found out the name of Rebecca's husband, Joe Fresno. (Why didn't Rebecca simply tell them that?) After some more discussion of the case, their next stop is to the Hollywood Tropicana, a club that is currently featuring bikini-clad females wrestling while covered in hot oil. At the club, they find Samson, a former associate of Joe. After being told that they are looking for Joe, Samson tells them that Joe does not want to be found, but after a little prodding writes down the last known address of Joe. It's then brought up that their informant was a former wrestler, and comments that the bikini wrestlers in the club are good at what they do. Jaguar suggests that they can't be all that tough, and within seconds he makes a twenty dollar bet with Samson. Right there in the club, Jaguar strips down to his underwear and gets into the oil pit with the wrestling bikini-clad women and starts to wrestle them, much to Turk and Rebecca's consternation. Then in the next scene... well, I don't think I have to go on. Believe it or not, what I have just told you all happens in the first thirty minutes of Hollywood Cop. There is a lot more insanity to follow, and I wouldn't dream of spoiling the whole package for you. I just wanted to tell you enough about the movie so that you would be driven to find a copy of the movie to watch for yourself. Maybe Amir Shervan made an insane movie, but Hollywood is by all reports an often crazy town, so maybe he did get at least one thing right while making this movie.

(Posted April 29, 2021)

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)

See also: Sakura Killers, Shotgun, The Third Society