Omega Cop (1990)

The tagline on the VHS cover of Omega Cop says it all:

“The year is 1999.
John Travis is the toughest cop alive
…He is the only cop alive!”

Indeed, the year is 1999. The city is a “manure pile.” Trees have been cut down, the air has been poisoned, and the soil has been contaminated. The ozone layer is riddled with holes; now it’s just a fish net loosely draped around our crusty little planet. There’s no food. No meat. No future. There’s only chaos. Adam West is heading up a command center and dispatches a “Special Police” squad to exterminate some thugs who are auctioning off slaves—sexy lady slaves. The Special Police have caps that say “Special Police,” but a more accurate cap would say “Easily Winded After Some Light Jogging Police.” The squad is led by Travis, John Travis. But you may know him as Ron Marchini, aka the guy who was defeated by Chuck Norris in a 1964 tournament. You may also know him from Karate Cop, aka the movie you watched before this one even though it’s the sequel. While Omega Cop sets the tone and starts the adventure, Karate Cop takes it to great heights. But this isn’t to say Omega Cop isn’t good. It is good. It is very good.

After a solar flare turns men into badly dressed mutants, John Travis becomes the only cop left in post-apocalyptic Stockton, California, which looks exactly like pre-apocalyptic Stockton, California. He rescues some dames and now must return them to the command center where they’ll be safe. But there are obstacles in his way, namely a ragtag crew of thugs. One guy wears a black leather trenchcoat and knee-high boots not unlike a Nazi officer. Another guy wears a curly blonde wig and a shirt that says “Sugar Bare.” Not sure what that is, but don’t Google it at work. Unless you work from home. Then go ahead. I should note that the “Sugar Bare” shirt is strategically ripped so that the dude’s left nipple hangs out of a hole.

There are plenty of chases, shootouts, roundhouse kicks, face slams, and at least two underwhelming showdowns. There are also kidnappings, blood drinking, mild torture, mercy killings, and a scene where Travis just does not want to be kissed. There’s a Jeep Renegade, you know, because John Travis is a renegade, and a cassette tape that features the song “Draggin’ U.S.A.”, which is most definitely not by The Beach Boys. There are explosions and gunfire and plenty of flying kicks and punches. But in this film, the Marchini signature move is one where he nails a dude in the crotch. It happens over and over and over. It’s a low blow, sure, but it’s also a crowd pleaser. Dick kicks are easily the fart jokes of the martial arts world. But to quote Louis C.K., “You don’t have to be smart to laugh at farts, but you have to be stupid not to.”

Ron Marchini looks like a dad. He may even look like your dad (but not like mine because my dad’s Korean). Marchini just has one of those dad faces. You can just see him at Little League games across America, cheering from the bleachers in his pleated khakis and white sneakers. He is awkward, uncharismatic, and wooden. There is no rage here. No sass. No delivery. His acting is as passionless and uninspired as the fight choreography. For Marchini, punching out some thugs is something he has to do before helping his kids with their homework. But, this is precisely what makes Marchini a dad-action hero and what makes Omega Cop a dad-action hit.

The summary on the back of the VHS cover says, “This futuristic sci-fi action adventure combines the speculative fantasy of A Clockwork Orange with the suspenseful action of The Terminator.” This is correct. But, I’d also add, “Also combines totally serviceable martial arts with dick kicks.”

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