I don’t know why this movie isn’t more popular. Showdown in Little Tokyo is a highly entertaining nineties action movie with a lot of things going for it. First of all, it stars gigantic Dolph Lundgren who looks swollen as fuck, and charismatic Brandon Lee showcasing his martial arts skills. Of course, the role of the villain was awarded to the memorable Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. And we also shouldn’t forget to mention the beautiful and enigmatic Tia Carrere. Secondly, we will follow two cops trying to dismantle a dangerous yakuza gang in the heart of the USA.
So, this is essentially a buddy cop movie. Thirdly, the pacing is really fast without any fluff or exposition. I mean, with a running time of just over 75 minutes, this movie is just a bit longer than your average tv show episode. This makes it a perfect warm-up movie or the right dose of nostalgia. Additionally, the tits-to-scene ratio is pretty high, which is always a plus. In case you’re not familiar with this metric, it basically means that we will see a new set of boobies every ten minutes.
Add to this loads of shootouts, fights, and chases and you got yourself quite a thrill ride. All of this makes Showdown in Little Tokyo worth watching, especially if you’re craving some old-school nineties action movie magic. Even the things that don’t work somehow make this movie even more entertaining. The script is at times really cheesy making it unintentionally funny. The same can be said about some of the fight scenes that look badly choreographed.
Chris Kenner is a veteran L.A. cop trying to shut down a huge Yakuza operation. However, he won’t be doing it alone as his boss gets him a new partner. Johnny Murata doesn’t know much about Bushido but he knows how to fight and is willing to work with Chris. Now, the two of them must work together if they want to defeat the evil Yoshida, head of L.A. Yakuza.
At least our two tough cops are not beating everyone with their fists but are using machine guns, pistols, and other weapons. I especially liked Dolph Lundgren’s weapon of choice, the stainless Desert Eagle Mark I. Speaking of guns, pay attention to Dolph’s shoulder during the final fight and his comments about the wound. I could not stop laughing during this scene. In fact, I almost put this movie in the Movies So Bad They’re Good section but ultimately decided not to. It’s right on the edge though, so just be aware of that.
Our guys also don’t know the meaning of backup so they just go in guns blazing. At least the opening scene showed us what we’re in for. Once you see Yoshida’s crystal meth or ice production facilities you’ll realize that Walter White is a fucking beginner. King Kong ain’t got shit on Yoshida man! He’s producing this crap like it’s fucking cotton candy. Showdown in Little Tokyo is just one of many nineties action movies featuring the feared Japanese gang Yakuza.
If you’re looking for a more serious approach to this subject I recommend you check out Year of the Dragon starring Mickey Rourke. Oddly enough, this is not the first time Dolph Lundgren had to fight the Yakuza as he kicked their ass just a couple of years earlier in The Punisher. Finally, I just wanted to remind you that if the title of this movie Showdown in Little Tokyo sounds familiar, it’s because of Carpenter’s supernatural actioner Big Trouble in Little China. Always a fun watch, by the way.
Director: Mark L. Lester
Writers: Stephen Glantz, Caliope Brattlestreet
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tia Carrere, Philip Tan, Vernee Watson
Fun Facts: All of the swords used in the film were replicas.