Night Patrol

Color, 1984, 85 mins. 14 secs.
Directed by Jackie Kong
Starring Linda Blair, Murray Langston, Pat Paulsen, Billy Party, Pat Morita, Jaye P. Morgan, Jack Riley
Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), Image Entertainment, Anchor Bay (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

The Night Patrolsurprise smash success of Police Night PatrolAcademy in March of 1984 was bound to inspire imitators, but few could compete with the lightning speed of Night Patrol which opened a mere eight months later. Apparently deciding that Police Academy was far too nuanced and classy, this lunatic cop comedy delivers a monumental bad taste epic that left many patrons astonished and became something of a cult hit on cable TV where it didn't matter when you tuned in or out. Other imitators soon followed like Moving Violations, Feds, Recruits, and Vice Academy, but none even attempted to go the route of this politically incorrect cavalcade. This was the second directorial feature for the young Jackie Kong following 1983's The Being and was followed by the cult classic Blood Diner and another comedy, The Under Achievers, all made in some capacity with her husband at the time, Bill Osco (of Flesh Gordon, Alice in Wonderland, and Cop Killers fame).

Though you might not guess it from the advertising, Night Patrol is essentially a vehicle for the Unknown Comic, a gimmicky stand-up comedian with a paper bag over his head who shot to brief pop culture immortality on TV's The Gong Show. Here he appears along with his acting alter ego Murray Langston as Melvin White, a cop who can't decide whether he wants to stick around in the force or pursue his dreams of nightclub glory. He tries to work out his problems with his shrink, Dr. Ziegler (The Bob Night PatrolNewhart Night PatrolShow's Riley), while his day job is filled with goofballs including his new partner, Kent (Paulsen), potential romantic partner Sue Perman (Blair), and his boss, Captain Lewis (Barty), who's not only foul tempered but prone to extreme flatulence. Mostly it's a collection of childish gags involving cockfighting, sperm banks, blackface, sexual assault, homosexuality, and other random topics, all handled with the sensitivity you'd expect. Along the way you also get random appearances by a young Andrew Dice Clay, Kitten Natividad, Sydney Lassick, Langston's TV co-star Jaye P. Morgan as his showbiz manager, and a completely baffling extended cameo by Pat Morita (who earned an Oscar nomination for the same year's The Karate Kid, incredibly enough) as a dumpster-dropped rape victim talking with a dubbed little girl's voice. In short, it's the kind of film designed to be watched with as many beers and as little brain power as possible.

A reasonable box office success for New World, Night Patrol was a VHS and TV staple for years and has since gone on to the usual digital path of its studio brethren, namely an Anchor Bay DVD in 2004 and a reissue on DVD from Image Entertainment in 2011. The film has never been given the special edition treatment and has only sported the Night Patroltrailer as an extra (which is odd given Kong's participation in commentaries for two of her other films). However, at least you can behold Night Patrolit in the glory of 1080p thanks to Scorpion Releasing's Blu-ray released in 2020, which is easily the best it's looking to date with a nice scan that brings out far more detail and color saturation than the old transfer we've had around for years. Fans should be more than happy with the results here, and the DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track (with optional English SDH subtitles) sounds as good as could be expected for a typical New World mix of the era. One thing's for sure: you'll be really sick of that theme song by the 10-minute mark. Extras include a dupey theatrical trailer and TV spot plus bonus ones for Fraternity Vacation, Delivery Boys, Bad Manners, Covergirl, Grunt!, and Uphill All the Way.

Reviewed on March 3, 2020