Showdown in Little Tokyo

Dolph Lundgren stars as a baby white guy who was raised in Japan and takes the culture very seriously. Brandon Lee stars as a part Japanese-American dudebro who gets to quip a lot. Together, they are the worst cops I have ever seen on film!

No, really, they are dreadful. Entering buildings without warrants, setting fire to people who have fallen in vats of flammable liquid … there’s not much in the way of due process going on.

Because they are such shitty cops, they have both had trouble keeping partners in the past. When they meet, Lundgren has been beating up the gangsters harassing the owner of his favourite restaurant – Lee walks in, and, not knowing this, immediately starts trying to beat Lundgren up as well. Cue super awkwardness when they realise they are both cops! And what’s more, each other’s new partner.

Screenshot of Lee in a superfly suit, arms open wide, and Lundgren in a leather jacket, looking dubious.

Dolph Lundgren is not impressed.

Thankfully they don’t stay antagonistic, and before long you get Lee saying things like, ‘You have the biggest dick I have ever seen on a man.’ But it’s okay – Lundgren gets a love interest, and Lee gets to objectify women, so we know they’re both totally straight!

The two of them are assigned to investigate the NEW GANG IN TOWN, led by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. In a strange twist of fate, Tagawa is the same guy who once killed Lundgren’s parents. Kid!Lundgren saw the guy’s full-torso tattoo; barely-adult!Lundgren goes around ripping the shirts off Japanese gangsters so he can check if the tattoos match. As you do.

Screenshot showing Lundgren pointing the gun at the head of a guy with his shirt open; you can see said guy's impressive full-torso tattoo.

An example of appropriate cop behaviour.

The rest of the movie basically consists of half-naked dudes.

Screenshot of Lundgren and Lee confronting the gangsters in the bathhouse.

Half-naked in the bathhouse.

Screenshot where Lundgren has just come out a room, in his undies. Lee is fully dressed.

Half-naked when your house is being invaded.

Screenshot of a shirtless man putting what may be a sickle in his belt.

Luckily his undies are modified for weaponry.

Screenshot of Lee and Lundgren, shirts off, on racks, with strange electrical devices plugged in.

Half-naked while being tortured.

Screenshot of Lundgren and Tagawa fighting with katana, shirtless.

Half-naked katana battle.

There are also plenty of women wearing not many or any clothes as well. In case you were worried.

On the role of women in this movie, I note that:

  • one is forced to smoke a substantial amount of crack, gets felt up by the chief gangster and then has her head chopped off
  • one is Lundgren’s love interest (Tina Carrere), whom he stops from committing suicide after the chief gangster has raped her.

It’s not a very nice movie for women :-/

Carrere’s attempted suicide is extra skeevy, because, of course, she’s planning to commit seppuku. ‘It’s rarely done by women unless they’ve been irredeemably dishonoured,’ says Lundgren, but I suspect he should be more shocked by the fact it’s the nineties. The 1990s. I’m pretty sure that no-one much was committing seppuku in the nineties.

Anyway, once Carrere’s been rescued, she’s not suicidal any more and Lundgren leaves her with a shotgun so she can protect herself while he’s out.

Screenshot of Lundgren showing Carrere how to use a big gun.

Note: possibly not a shotgun.

She gets captured again later, of course. Because we can’t have the final showdown without putting the girl in danger.

If you can put up with some of the crap, it’s a reasonably enjoyable movie. But perhaps I’ve just had my standards squashed, because we’ve also watched the similarly themed Samurai Cop recently, which is about 5x as sexist and 10x as racist and not even competently made to boot.

Anyway, the best thing in this movie is the costumes. Half-naked people aside, there are some seriously great costumes.

Screenshot of a guy coming into the station. He is wearing a khaki suit jacket and an amazing polka-dot and paisley shirt.

An excellent choice, for the last shirt this guy will ever wear.

Screenshot of a blonde woman wearing a bold floral shirt, which is low-cut and double-breasted, along with a skirt which also has two rows of buttons. There's a dude in the background with a cool peach shirt and purple suit jacket.

A not-so-excellent choice by this woman.

Screenshot of Lundgren confronting a group of gangsters who all look amazing.

One of these is almost camouflage.

Screenshot of a smiling middle-aged Japanese woman, in a super-sweet brown floral outfit.

Cutest outfit in this movie.

Screenshot of a dude in an amazing patterned sparkly shirt.

SPARKLY PAISLEY.

Screenshot of a row of seated gangsters, wearing amazing and colourful suits. One in particular has a different pattern on each side of the shirt, and the shirt pocket matches the pattern on the opposite side.

Just an amazing line-up of fantastic shirts.

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