The general style of comedy in Japan is somewhat different from that in the West. This becomes immediately clear when you look at wacky, crazy films that are instantly labeled as “this couldn’t have been made anywhere else besides Japan”. Well-known examples are segments from Funky Forest which are popular on Youtube, or over-the-top gore flicks such as Tokyo Gore Police and pretty much anything the Sushi Typhoon studio releases. Minoru Kawasaki is one director who has done nothing but make wacky movies, though still managed to keep them family friendly as opposed to Noboru Iguchi for example. Kawasaki is most (in)famous for making the absurdist animal-related films Pussy Soup, Calamari Wrestler et cetera, but he’s also tried his hand at different types of parodies.
The Rug Cop is a parody of 60s/70s style detective television shows that were popular in Japan at the time. It is however not necessary to have seen these types of shows to understand the hilarity of this film. It is a (consciously) low-budget movie, meaning that the so-called special effects are crappy, the acting by anyone besides the main character is simply horrendous, and there are even some short instances of recycling images by mirroring them. In other words, it’s the ultimate B-flick, and proud of it.
The film opens with a bank heist, but not just any normal heist, the culprit is a ventriloquist dummy holding everybody, including the man who is supposed to be controlling him, hostage. It’s a tense situation, but the detective main character is unafraid. He walks in and quickly saves the day by using his special skill i.e. superpower. It might not have been obvious from the start, but our lead is actually bald and wears a toupee. A toupee which he can use as a sort of boomerang to disarm the bad guys, this element of surprise makes him a great detective, but his department does not think so and transfers him. He ends up in a shabby office with a bunch of other “special” detectives such as: Detective Fatty, Detective Shorty, Detective Handsome, and last but definitely not least: Detective Big D*ck. These side characters all have their own special abilities (if you can call them that) and are all funny in their own way. One day, the Rug Cop and his team of awesome colleagues are alerted of an imminent terrorist threat and have to give it their all to stop the bad guys from blowing up Tokyo. This investigation leads our main character to some interesting confrontations not only with the terrorists but perhaps also with himself, we learn about his past and about his dealings with his baldness. It is really quite touching.
Perhaps the best moment in the film is the Rug Cop’s training montage supported by the awesome Rug Cop theme song halfway through. I’ve heard stories about people in theatres at the time of release collectively singing along to this theme song and I would have definitely loved to have been there, it really is catchy. The main down side of the film is that it is too short, not even hitting the 80 minute mark , I am left wanting more every time I see it. The Rug Cop’s team of sidekicks eventually do not all get their due airtime and I truly hope that somehow someway there will be a sequel someday. The film’s focus is undoubtedly comedy and it doesn’t take itself seriously for even a second. Of course this style of dry and tongue-in-cheek comedy has to suit you in order to enjoy this but if it does you will undoubtedly love it.