Showdown in Little Tokyo

Last updated
Showdown in Little Tokyo
Showdown in Little Tokyo poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark L. Lester
Written byStephen Glantz
Caliope Brattlestreet
Produced byMartin E. Caan
Mark L. Lester
Starring
Cinematography Mark Irwin
Edited byRobert A. Ferretti
Steven Kemper
Music by David Michael Frank
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • August 23, 1991 (1991-08-23)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguagesEnglish
Japanese
Budget$8 million
Box office$2.3 million [1]

Showdown in Little Tokyo is a 1991 American buddy cop action film directed by Mark L. Lester, who also produced with Martin E. Caan. The film stars Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee; it was the latter's first American film role. The film was released in the United States on August 23, 1991. The film gained a cult following among action fans especially for the chemistry between Lundgren and Lee. [2] [3]

Contents

Plot

Los Angeles cop Chris Kenner (Dolph Lundgren) is an American who was raised in Japan. He is given a new partner, Johnny Murata (Brandon Lee), an American of partial Japanese descent. Kenner does not appreciate American culture, while Johnny does not like Japanese culture much. One thing they both enjoy are the martial arts, in which they are both experts. The two are assigned to L.A.'s Little Tokyo, where they break up some criminal activity in a Japanese restaurant, and an arrest is made. While Kenner and Johnny are questioning the suspect, Kenner notices that he has tattoos of the Iron Claw yakuza clan. This reminds him of when he was 9 years old and he witnessed his parents being killed by a member of the yakuza. Before Kenner or Murata can interrogate the suspect further, he kills himself in the interrogation room by breaking his own neck.

The leader of the Iron Claw clan, Yoshida (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), kills the owner of a popular downtown nightclub called the Bonsai Club by crushing the owner, Tanaka (Philip Tan), in a car compactor. To celebrate gaining ownership of the Bonsai Club, Yoshida throws a party at his house with all of the club staff. One of the girls at the party, named Angel (Renee Griffin), is revealed to have warned Tanaka about Yoshida behind his back, and this infuriates Yoshida who then questions Angel about her loyalty. She attempts to appease Yoshida by offering her body to him but Yoshida instead drugs Angel and strips off her clothes, and then fondles her from behind before beheading her.

When the coroner runs an analysis on Angel's body, it is revealed that the methamphetamines in her system would have led to her death anyway. This discovery of drugs, together with the suspect having yakuza tattoos, prompts Kenner and Johnny to go to the Bonsai Club in search of information. There they meet lounge singer Minako Okeya (Tia Carrere), who was a good friend of Angel's. Before they can get any useful information out of her, they are ambushed and taken to see the nightclub's owner and Kenner recognizes Yoshida as the man who killed his parents. Yoshida is now a drug manufacturer using a local brewery as his distribution center. He uses smaller gangs such as the Hells Angels, Crips and Sureños to peddle the drugs for him, in return for a percentage of the profit. Enraged, Kenner pulls his gun on Yoshida and almost kills him to avenge the death of his parents, but Johnny manages to defuse the situation and they both leave the nightclub.

Later that night, Yoshida rapes and kidnaps Minako and holds her hostage in his home and vows to kill Kenner. Kenner and Johnny set out for Yoshida's heavily guarded home, where they rescue Minako. His pride wounded, Yoshida sends his men out to get Minako back. He has Kenner and Johnny captured, stripped topless and tortured, but Kenner and Johnny manage to escape. They then prepare an assault on Yoshida's brewery, where they rescue Minako once again. In the middle of a parade in the city, Kenner fights Yoshida in a duel, in which Kenner uses a sword to impale Yoshida on a giant, spinning firework called a Catherine wheel, which burns Yoshida while spinning at high speed, and then the wheel explodes and kills Yoshida.

Kenner and Johnny are then hailed as heroes by the crowd as they escort Minako away from the scene.

Cast

Music

Soundtrack

David Michael Frank [4]

Release Date: December 11, 1991, Formats: CD, Cassette

  1. Main Title
  2. The Iron Claw
  3. Brewery Battle
  4. Noble Quest
  5. Death And Dishonor
  6. Private Moment
  7. Slippery When Wet
  8. Yakety Yakuza
  9. Saving Minako
  10. Kenner And Johnny
  11. Brewery Bust
  12. Haydn Seek
  13. Little Tokyo
  14. Heavy Metal Sushi
  15. Into The Vat
  16. Death And Disfiguration

Reception

Box office

Warner Bros. was not happy with the film and re-edited it, only to give it a limited theatrical run in the United States, Mexico, Australia, France (where it skipped Paris), [5] Italy, Israel and Hungary. Except for these markets, the film was released direct-to-video in 1992.

In the US opening weekend, the film grossed $455,192 from 140 theaters which was an average of $3,251 per theater. This accounted for 20% of the film's total gross. [1] [6] [7]

It ranked #9 in Hungary's Top 10 of 1992 Overall Box Office Grosses (according to the 1994 Variety International Film Guide), grossing $197,590 in Hungary.

After Brandon Lee's untimely death while filming The Crow (1994), movies with Lee in leading roles, such as Showdown in Little Tokyo, saw a surge in video sales. [8]

The film became a cult classic among action fans after its release. Director Mark L. Lester said: “I was going for exaggerated reality. Kind of a pop art thing or a comic book. But Warner took about ten minutes out of the film, which were pretty good actually. They changed it all around. They didn’t do a big release, but I guess people liked it.“ [9] Brandon Lee was also very fond of the movie: "I didn't have a lot of input into it. It was really just a job for me but it was a good experience". [10]

Critical response

The movie faced largely negative reviews from critics. [11] [12] [13] [14] Vincent Canby of The New York Times described it as "violent, but spiritless." [15] It holds a rating of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 9 reviews, with an average score of 4.3/10. [16]

Later Reviews

Upon its 2015 DVD release, DVD Talk reviewer Ian Jane wrote that it was a shallow but highly enjoyable action film of its time. He found it fast paced, action packed, and funny. He felt it had good photography, nice locations, and that Brandon Lee shined in his role. [17]

Contemporary critic Chris Coffel of Bloody Disgusting praised it for being a well-made action film of its time, and that both leads delivered their roles well. He also praised the lead villain Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Finally he felt the movie fell flat on the humorous side of things, but was great fun for its genre. [18]

On JoBlo.com , writer Chris Bumbray considers it to be an underrated gem and a cult classic. He thinks that Lee steals the show from Lundgren and that the film showcases the range of the early departed actor. His final thought was that it was a fun B actioner. [19]

Related Research Articles

<i>Johnny Mnemonic</i> (film) 1995 science fiction film

Johnny Mnemonic is a 1995 cyberpunk action film directed by Robert Longo in his feature directorial debut. William Gibson, who wrote the 1981 short story, wrote the screenplay. The film, set in 2021, portrays a dystopian future racked by a tech-induced plague, awash with conspiracies, and dominated by megacorporations and organized crime. Keanu Reeves plays Johnny, a data courier with an overloaded brain implant designed to securely store confidential information. Takeshi Kitano portrays a yakuza affiliated with a megacorporation attempting to suppress the data; he hires a psychopathic assassin played by Dolph Lundgren to do so. Ice-T and Dina Meyer co-star as Johnny's allies, a freedom fighter and a bodyguard, respectively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brandon Lee</span> American actor and martial artist (1965–1993)

Brandon Bruce Lee was an American actor and martial artist. Establishing himself as a rising action star in the early 1990s, he landed his breakthrough role as Eric Draven in the dark fantasy film The Crow (1994). Lee's life and career, however, were cut short by his accidental death during the film's production.

<i>Wasabi</i> (film) 2001 film

Wasabi is a 2001 French action comedy film directed by Gérard Krawczyk and written and produced by Luc Besson. The film stars Jean Reno, Michel Muller and Ryōko Hirosue. In France, it was released as Wasabi, la petite moutarde qui monte au nez.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dolph Lundgren</span> Swedish actor and martial artist (born 1957)

Hans "Dolph" Lundgren is a Swedish actor, filmmaker and martial artist. Born in Spånga, Sweden, Lundgren became interested in martial arts at a young age. This would lead him to hold the rank of 4th dan black belt in Kyokushin karate and become European champion in 1980 and 1981. In 1982, while studying to get a master's degree, he became the boyfriend of singer Grace Jones. With her he moved to New York City and started to take acting classes. In 1985, Lundgren had a breakthrough role playing the lead villain as an imposing Soviet boxer named Ivan Drago in Sylvester Stallone's Rocky IV.

<i>Rising Sun</i> (film) 1993 American film

Rising Sun is a 1993 American buddy cop crime thriller film directed by Philip Kaufman, who also wrote the screenplay with Michael Crichton and Michael Backes. The film stars Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Harvey Keitel, Tia Carrere and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. It was based on Michael Crichton's 1992 novel of the same name.

<i>The Yakuza</i> 1975 film by Sydney Pollack

The Yakuza is a 1974 neo-noir crime drama film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura and Brian Keith. The screenplay by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne is from a story by Schrader's brother, Leonard Schrader.

<i>Tokyo Drifter</i> 1966 Japanese film

Tokyo Drifter is a 1966 yakuza film directed by Seijun Suzuki. The story follows the reformed yakuza hitman "Phoenix" Tetsu, played by Tetsuya Watari, who is forced to roam Japan while avoiding execution by rival gangs.

<i>God of Gamblers</i> 1989 Hong Kong film

God of Gamblers is a 1989 Hong Kong action comedy film written and directed by Wong Jing featuring an all-star cast led by Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau, Joey Wong and Sharla Cheung.

<i>The Punisher</i> (1989 film) 1989 film directed by Mark Goldblatt

The Punisher is a 1989 American vigilante action-thriller film directed by Mark Goldblatt, written by Boaz Yakin, and starring Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gossett Jr. Based on the Punisher character from Marvel Comics, the film changes some details of the character's origin, and eliminates the signature skull logo; instead, The Punisher uses a knife with the skull on its pommel. It was shot in Sydney, co-starring Jeroen Krabbé, Kim Miyori, Nancy Everhard, and Barry Otto.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa</span> American actor

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is an American actor, film producer, and martial artist.

Mark L. Lester is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is known as a prolific director of cult films, including the disco musical Roller Boogie (1979), the vigilante thriller film Class of 1984 (1982), the Stephen King adaptation Firestarter (1984), the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film Commando (1985), the action-comedy Armed and Dangerous (1986), starring John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Meg Ryan and the buddy movie Showdown in Little Tokyo, starring Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee.

<i>Kanto Wanderer</i> 1963 Japanese film

Kanto Wanderer is a 1963 Japanese yakuza film directed by Seijun Suzuki and starring Akira Kobayashi, Chieko Matsubara, Daizaburo Hirata and Hiroko Itō. It was a programme picture produced by the Nikkatsu Company to fill out the second half of a double bill with Shohei Imamura's The Insect Woman. The film was based on a novel by Taiko Hirabayashi and had been previously adapted to the screen as Song from the Underworld (1956) by Suzuki's mentor, Hiroshi Noguchi. The story involves Katsuta, a yakuza member who falls in love and is torn between giri (duty) and ninjo (humanity). The Kanto of the title refers to a large plain on which Tokyo is located.

<i>Men of War</i> (film) 1994 American action film by Perry Lang

Men of War is a 1994 action film directed by Perry Lang, written by John Sayles, and revised by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris. It stars Dolph Lundgren as Nick Gunar, a former Special Ops soldier who leads a group of mercenaries to a treasure island in the South China Sea.

<i>Bridge of Dragons</i> 1999 American film

Bridge of Dragons is a 1999 American romantic action film directed by Isaac Florentine, and starring Dolph Lundgren, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Valerie Chow, and Gary Hudson. Lundgren and Tagawa had previously starred together in the 1991 film Showdown in Little Tokyo. It was the first film by Nu Image to be shot in Bulgaria.

<i>Watcher in the Attic</i> 1976 Japanese film

Watcher in the AtticakaStroller in the Attic, Edogawa Rampo Theater: Walker in the Attic and Walker in the Attic is a 1976 Japanese film in Nikkatsu's Roman porno series, directed by Noboru Tanaka and starring Junko Miyashita.

<i>Skin Trade</i> (film) 2014 Thai film

Skin Trade is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham. It stars Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, and Ron Perlman. Lundgren wrote the film with Gabriel Dowrick and Steven Elder, while John Hyams performed uncredited script revisions. The film centers around New Jersey police detective Nick Cassidy, as he travels to Asia intent on killing the man who murdered his family, mobster Viktor Dragovic.

<i>Armed Response</i> (1986 film) 1986 film by Fred Olen Ray

Armed Response is a 1986 action thriller film directed by Fred Olen Ray and starring David Carradine and Lee Van Cleef. It is the first action film made by CineTel Films and distributed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Nathan Jung was an American actor and stuntman. Due to his height, he was usually cast in "heavy" or "enforcer" roles.

<i>The Package</i> (2013 film) 2012 direct-to-video action film directed by Jesse V. Johnson

The Package is a 2012 American action film directed by Jesse V. Johnson and starring Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren. The film was shot in Abbotsford, Langley, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in twenty days from February 14 to March 5, 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dolph Lundgren on screen and stage</span>

Dolph Lundgren is a Swedish actor, filmmaker, and martial artist. Lundgren's breakthrough came in 1985, when he starred in Rocky IV as the imposing Soviet boxer Ivan Drago. Since then, he has starred in more than 69 films, almost all of them in the action genre.

References

  1. 1 2 "Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)". Box Office Mojo. 1991-09-10. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  2. https://www.joblo.com/best-dolph-lundgren-movies/
  3. https://movieweb.com/dolph-lundgren-best-movies-ranked/
  4. "Showdown in Little Tokyo Soundtrack (1991)".
  5. "Dans les griffes du Dragon rouge". encyclocine.com (in French). Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  6. Daly, Steve (1992-02-14). "Box Office Upset". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  7. "Showdown in Little Tokyo". Deseret News . Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  8. Hunt, Dennis (1993-04-09). "A Resurgence of Interest in Films of Brandon Lee". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2010-12-03.
  9. "Mark L. Lester interview".
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_xX8yw_arY
  11. Fox, David J. (1991-08-27). "Weekend Box Office : List-Toppers Are Listless". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2011-01-13.
  12. Thomas, Kevin (1991-08-26). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Showdown in Little Tokyo' a Class Martial-Arts Act". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  13. "Showdown in Little Tokyo". Variety. 1990-12-31. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  14. Fox, David J. (1991-08-27). "Weekend Box Office List-Toppers Are Listless". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  15. Canby, Vincent (1991-09-22). "Review/Film; 'Showdown In Little Tokyo'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  16. "Showdown in Little Tokyo". Rotten Tomatoes .
  17. "Showdown in Little Tokyo (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  18. Coffel, Chris (2016-03-11). "[Blu-ray Review] Dolph and Lee Take On the Yakuza In 'Showdown In Little Tokyo'". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  19. "The Best Movie You Never Saw: Showdown in Little Tokyo". www.joblo.com. 2018-12-07. Retrieved 2019-06-23.