Amir Hosein Ghaffari, Amir Shervan, is widely celebrated as a one of the best B-grade directors of all time. Having passed away in 2006, his film Samurai Cop, released in 1991, rose to cult status just a year later. Sadly, he never lived to see his cinematic triumphs be recognised as comedy gold.
But, of course, his movies are not recognised for being masterpieces. Instead, they are celebrated for being humorously out of touch, ridiculously bad, and completely awful in virtually every way. They are, as culture has now come to call them, good bad movies. In other words; movies so charmingly bad as to be comedic masterpieces.
Amir Shervan studied theatre in California, then returned home to Iran to pursue a career in cinema. He was involved in a number of local Iranian productions, most of which were recognised as being competent. But, his career faced an insurmountable challenge. Due to the political situation in Iran, he was unable to produce any film that did not feature a pro-Islamic angle.
This resulted in him making a drastic change; he relocated to California in the 1980s, where he hoped to produce films that were free from government tampering. Between 1980 and 1987 he focused primarily on establishing the Hollywood Royal Productions company, until finally creating what would be the first in a long line of action films.
He plainly stated that his biggest influence was the smash hit Lethal Weapon, which he hoped to reproduce with his own personal flavour.
Hollywood Cop – 1987
Hollywood Cop was the first Shervan action movie blunder. It landed with a thud at the box office, and was largely overlooked in a sea of similarly bad action movies releasing at the time.
It was only much later, in the mid to late 2000s, that cult movie goers would appreciate just how uniquely bad the movie truly was. The real gold comes from determined actors attempting to try and convincingly deliver painfully bad dialogue, act in brutally out of touch scenes, and take seriously horrendously poor storytelling.
It is this angle, sincere actors doing the best with the mess they were given, that makes Shervan’s films stand out as ‘good bad’ masterpieces.
Killing American Style – 1988
Despite Hollywood Cop being met with apathy, Shervan soldiered on, repeatedly attempting to create an American action film that succeeded. He swung for the fences again with Killing American Style, and again managed to fail miserably in with the attempt.
He did, however, once again manage to strike gold in the ‘good bad’ department.
Samurai Cop – 1991
It is Samurai Cop, released in 1991, that would eventually gain Shervan cult status in the 2000s. Having attempted to make films that were at least technically competent in the 80s, Shervan seems to have largely lost hope over the course of his final attempt.
Some of the scenes are so outrageously poorly edited, and so blatantly disjointed, that it is surprising that the train wreck was released at all. It is, once again, a cast doing the best they could with what they were given that adds the charm the movie needed to be a ‘good bad’ masterpiece.
Sadly, Shervan retired from movie making after Samurai Cop, and would never live to see his productions find a passionate global audience.