There are funny action movies that shaped the genre and make no mistake that this action-comedy is one of them.
Hilarious, bad, highly entertaining and action-packed ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ deserves to be regarded as ‘The Godfather’ in his own category.
It won’t be far from the truth to claim that only a few action flicks maintain such a well-considered dose of humor, action, and storytelling.
However, the movie was so spiritless (as per the critics) and ‘Warner Bros’ were completely displeased with it, which ended up by cutting the original director’s release from 90 to 79 minutes.
That is why ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ received only a limited theatrical release and it was distributed mostly in the direct-to-video market.
Now, let’s see who is responsible for the immense underground success of the action flick despite its failure at the box office.
Cast and Crew
The director Mark L. Lester (‘Commando’) had the pleasure to work with a handful of stars during the creation of the movie.
Dolph Lundgren is in the role of the raised in Japan cop Chris Kenner and he partners with the legendary Brandon Lee as his foul-mouthed buddy cop Johnny Murata.
A fun fact is that ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ marks Lee’s first American film role.
Another popular name shining in the cast is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (‘Mortal Kombat’) in the role of the villain.
With his sinister looks and gimlet eye stare, Cary is very convincing as the merciless Yakuza leader Funekei Yoshida.
As you might already know, an action movie is not full without a sexy chick who is there to control the testosterone levels of the action hero and to help him release the pressure.
This job is perfectly done by the dashing Tia Carrere (‘True Lies’) in the role of the lounge singer and valuable witness Minako Okeya.
Now, let me tell you about the generic…
Being a buddy cop-action story, the plot follows the exploits of the two police officers and martial arts experts Johnny Murata and Sgt. Chris Kenner.
They both have to overcome their differences in order to bring down the notorious Yakuza leader Yoshido who runs a drug empire disguised as a brewery.
Meanwhile, they must also protect a beautiful girl close to his circle named Minako who would testify against him.
The action is ready to roll and the police detectives face extreme violence and mayhem in the underground world of Los Angeles.
This is a Funny Action Movie Because
I’ll begin by wrapping it all up – ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ has all the must haves for a typical action movie from the 90’s.
The hilarious one-liners, the explosive action, the stiff acting, the crazy martial arts, the sensual sex scene, the intense finale – it is all there plus much more.
The opening scene is already promising enough – Dolph Lundgren as Sgt. Chris Kenner, wearing a black leather jacket with the Japanese rising sun on the back spectacularly shows up in the middle of a fight in an illegal boxing club.
He is pumped as hell with an intense gaze and easily beats the crap out of the fighters who dare to confront him.
Until now, I thought that only Batman can make such eye-catching first appearances.
After that, Kenner starts shooting with an automatic gun aiming at absolutely everything he sees.
Soon we understand that he is causing all that chaos and mayhem on purpose – he is on a mission. So everything is justified.
Later, while defending the owner of a store from a group of thugs he meets detective Johnny Murata (Brandon Lee) for the first time.
At first, they don’t know that they are on the same side and start fighting, performing various complicated martial arts stunts.
After Murata and Kenner survive the brutal beating they give each other they become a team and the real show begins.
One of the funny moments that follow is when the violent Yakuza leader Yoshida (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) tries to rape a stripper who works for him, but in his madness, he ends up decapitating her with his samurai sword just for fun.
Now it’s the time to say a few words about the ‘relationship’ between Sgt. Kenner and the smokingly hot Minako (Tia Carrere).
The muscularly build and large as a wardrobe sergeant saves the life of the only witness who would testify against Yoshido – Minako, by easily killing 10 guys in the place she is kept in.
If you want to know how he kills them, I’ll tell you – he applies some Karate moves, he stabs them with his sword and just to be sure that they won’t live to see another day, he shoots them with his gun.
Following these events, Chris Kenner offers Minako his home as a shelter and briefs her about the basic rules.
He gives her a weapon and explains to her that she has to shoot to anybody she sees.
When she asks what to do if she sees him, Kenner proudly replies, “You won’t feel me coming”.
One funny part is the sex scene and the innuendo between the newly established roommates.
Kenner is relaxing in his Jacuzzi, all naked and Minako joins him (half-naked) and kindly asks the sergeant to close his eyes.
They are doing a small talk for some time and then go to sleep.
Just when you start to feel disappointed, Minako comes to Kenner’s room complaining that she is scared to sleep alone ( how original).
Chris Kenner doesn’t disagree and a minute later they are having a passionate sex.
At the end, while lying on his gigantic shoulder, she quietly says “This time I heard you coming”, i.e. cumming. So ridiculous!
The on-screen chemistry between Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee is undeniable.
The character of Johnny Murata is similar to the character of Chris Tucker Carter in ‘Rush Hour’.
He is super funny and drops some ludicrous one-liners during the most intense scenes.
For instance, when he sees Kenner naked Johnny exclaims, “You have the biggest dick I have ever seen on a man”.
Or when Murata finishes one of the Japanese thugs with a powerful kick in the face and the poor guy falls into a huge cauldron full of liquid acid, Johnny shouts after him with a smile of insanity “You have the right to be dead”.
The dialogue between the two detectives is often absurd and very amusing and they both deliver great martial arts performances, even though their acting is as good as the acting of Rin Tin Tin.
They both make a great cop duo and infiltrate the places where the bad Japanese are and massacre them without the slightest hesitation.
Attention! Some spoilers ahead, which however won’t spoil the pleasure of watching! Rather the opposite, trust me.
At the end of the movie, we start to prepare for the explosive finale.
Yoshido has already taken Minako as a hostage and threatens to kill her if both martial arts masters don’t surrender.
Just before that, we see Dolph spending a couple of days training karate and lifting weights like a maniac while preparing for the battle of his life.
All this happens on a lame 80’s music which purpose is to evoke how serious the situation actually is.
The final fight scene between Kenner and Yoshido is spectacular and ridiculously amusing.
We see Dolph Lundgren bleeding and wearing an absurd Japanese war kimono, a bandage on the head with the Japanese sign on it while walking the streets of L.A. and chasing Yoshido.
By the very end, they perform a duel with swords and probably I won’t surprise you by revealing that Dolph manages to brutally kill the Yakuza leader by stabbing him in the chest and letting him hang on a parade wheel that shortly after explodes.
At this point, you are already laughing so hard at all the madness that you start questioning your own sanity.
As you should have probably guessed, ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ is not meant to be a serious movie.
It is simply a highly entertaining buddy cop action story that will surely make you laugh.
The cheap look, the poor acting and the generic plot, combined with the heart-pounding, unstoppable action will guarantee you 79 minutes of pure fun, I promise you that.
What do you think about the movie? Leave a comment below!