The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO (1991) ****

Mark L. (Commando) Lester directed this truly awesome buddy cop movie in the tradition of such classics as Lethal Weapon and Tango and Cash.   It has the benefit of some great performances, winning humor and a scant running time.  It also features some of the zaniest dialogue you’ve ever heard in a motion picture and for the screwy screenwriting alone, it comes highly recommended.

 

Dolph Lundgren stars as Kenner, an American cop who was raised in Japan.  The late Brandon Lee is his partner Johnny, a wisecracking half-Asian dude who was raised in the Valley.  Together the duo go after a vicious drug lord (Mortal Kombat’s Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) who smuggles crank in beer bottles and gets his jollies from beheading crackhead bimbos with a samurai sword while he’s in the middle of humping them.   

 

This movie is a riot. 

 

It’s one of the nuttiest action films since Action Jackson.  Like that film, it features a scene where the supercop hero jumps over a speeding car.  Is that too much for you to suspend your disbelief?  If so, then I probably shouldn’t tell you about the part where Lundgren pushes over a car as easily as picking up a trash can.  Or the fight scene where Lundgren beats up five guys while holding a cup a tea and doesn’t spill a single drop.  Or the ending in which Lundgren gets shot in the heart at point blank range and is okay because the bullet “went straight through”.  Or when the villain is impaled on a fireworks display and blows up oh-so-good. 

 

I love Showdown in Little Tokyo.  It doesn’t have any fat on it.  It moves like lightning and the already short running time of 79 minutes breezes right along at a breathless pace thanks to Lester’s impeccable direction.  Although the film has it’s share of exposition and flashbacks, it’s all kept to the barest minimum and the movie never once loses momentum.  I especially liked the way that the roles of the two cops were switched around, as it was the white boy Lundgren who knew all about Japanese culture instead of the half-Asian Lee.  It just goes to show that there was a level of cleverness and thought that went into the making of this movie that countless other lesser action flicks sorely lack.

 

The performances by the two leads are also quite wonderful.  Lundgren is just as good here as he was at playing Ivan Drago in Rocky IV and really gets to showcase his comedic chops as well.  But it’s Brandon Lee who steals the show.  If you just know him from his somber ass turn in The Crow, you really need to check him out in this.  He has a real screen presence in this movie and like Lundgren, his comedic timing is perfect.  His rousing speech to his partner outside of a nude sushi bar is priceless:  “We’re going to nail this guy; then when we’re done we’ll come back and eat fish off those naked chicks!”

 

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Lee gets all the best lines in the movie.  Far too many for me to recount here.  Let’s just say that after seeing this film, you’ll be quoting it for days.  Lee has a line that has got to be the greatest line of dialogue of any movie made during the 90’s.  It comes just before the big shootout in Lundgren’s cabin where Lee confides to Dolph:  “In case we get killed, I just wanted to tell you that you have the biggest dick I’ve ever seen on a man!”

 

If that line of dialogue alone isn’t enough to make you want to watch this movie then there is something seriously wrong with you.

 

Showdown in Little Tokyo has enough moments of WTF madness for it to land square at Number 4 on the Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1991, right below The Last Boy Scout and just ahead of Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. 

Tags: action, dolph lundgren, kung fu, s
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