SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO is basically a by-the-numbers action picture, but what gives it that little something extra is that director Mark L. Lester (TRUCK STOP WOMEN and FIRESTARTER) has obviously been studying Hong Kong action films and does a fair job of matching their breakneck pace
and jaw-dropping action sequences.
Impossibly large, blond Detective Chris Kenner (Dolph Lundgren) was raised in Japan. He speaks the language and has tremendous respect for Japanese culture. Johnny Murata (Brandon Lee) is a California boy through and through; he doesn't even know what a futon is. Naturally, the Los Angeles Police
Department sees fit to make them partners and assign them to Little Tokyo, L.A.'s predominantly Japanese neighborhood. The only thing they have in common is martial arts expertise, which soon comes in handy.
Kenner and Murata find themselves on the trail of Yoshida (Carey-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a vicious gangster who's manufacturing drugs and using a brewery as his distribution center. Yoshida is a powerful member of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, and the residents of Little Tokyo are terrified. He
murders and mutilates his rivals, rapes pretty lounge singer Minako Okeya (Tia Carrere), and swears he will kill Kenner. It's a personal thing between them: it was Yoshida who murdered Kenner's parents, and Kenner--just a child--witnessed the vile deed. Murata and Kenner rescue Minako from
Yoshida's heavily guarded home. His pride wounded, Yoshida sends out his men to get her back. He has Kenner and Murata tortured, but they escape and take on his gang one by one, killing them one by one in preparation for the inevitable showdown between Kenner and Yoshida. Played out on the streets
of Little Tokyo amidst a colorful street fair, it's as ritualized as a Western showdown and the outcome as predictable.
Little Tokyo is an acceptably exotic location, and the famous Yakuza full-body tattoos displayed by Yoshida and his gang provide some visual diversion. The engaging Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, makes his U.S. film debut in SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, and his character verges
on being interesting: as an Asian-American (emphasis on the American), Johnny Murata is as out of touch with the arcane world of the Yakuza as Sergeant Joe Friday would have been. But it's Dolph Lundgren who sets the film's tone: physically flawless but utterly devoid of personality, he ultimately
drags SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO down to the level of his own teutonic immobility. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity, sexual situations, nudity.) c
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO is basically a by-the-numbers action picture, but what gives it that little something extra is that director Mark L. Lester (TRUCK STOP WOMEN and FIRESTARTER) has obviously been studying Hong Kong action films and does a fair job o… (more)