Showdown in Little Tokyo is not a good movie. It is poorly acted, poorly written, offensive, over the top in every way, and it features gratuitous amounts of nudity and violence. Showdown in Little Tokyo is an AMAZING movie. (Note: The above video is super-NSFW. SHHH! Don't tell Youtube.)
The movie is centered around two mismatched cops, played by Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee, trying to take down a Japanese crime organization that is flooding the streets with high-quality methamphetamine. Now, at this point of these Scene Breakdowns, I usually try to give you some quick background info about the movie. Instead, I'd like to direct your attention to this passage from the film's Wikipedia page, which is so wondrously written that it makes me question what I'm even doing here:
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 much like Japanese culture. One thing they both enjoy are the martial arts, of which they are both experts.
Yup, that about sums it up. Anyway, the scene I'm breaking down has it all: evil criminal bosses, implausible feats of strength, decapitation, neck-snapping, shameful Hollywood stereotypes, machine guns, attempted seppuku, nudity, and explosions. It is a true American treasure. Fun fact: This is the second straight movie I've selected to breakdown where the main character, without the aid of a ramp or trampoline, avoids being hit by an oncoming car by leaping straight up over it like that's something people do.
I guess you could say I have a niche.
As always, we begin with a look at some of the scene's key players. Here we have the film's antagonist, crime boss Funekei Yoshida, bringing a gift to one of the performers at his night club, played by Tia Carrere. The crime boss is played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who you may recognize from everything on TV or film since like 1989. Despite this long career playing the vital Hollywood role of "Asian Guy," to me Tagawa will always be the zany grandpa from the Disney Channel movie Johnny Tsunami (a movie whose entire premise is based around two junior high students sneaking onto a military plane and flying from Vermont to Hawaii, naturally). So it's a little weird for me to see him in one of the most preposterously evil roles committed to film.
I know that's a mighty bold claim, but I assure you, it is not hyperbole. For example, immediately after bringing Tia's character flowers and telling her how pretty she is...
... he proceeds to kidnap her, bring her to his mansion, and rape her while showing her a video of him cutting off her best friend's head with a sword. This is what one might conservatively call a bad evening for Tia's character.
But let's examine things a little closer, shall we? Specifically the part where Tia Carrere's character has changed both her dress and her hairstyle since the conversation in the club. The way the scene is cut, it seems to imply that very little time elapsed between that conversation and what happens in the mansion. This means, as far as I can tell, that Yoshida brought her flowers, then made her get all gussied up in order to get kidnapped and raped. That's cold.
Also, as he throws her around the bedroom, he says the line "I will own you and you will appreciate it," which is an EXTREMELY evil thing to say. Unless you're adopting a puppy from the animal shelter and planning to love it forever and buy it neat puppy toys and sometimes sneak it table scraps when your wife isn't looking. Then it's just nice. But I'm pretty sure that's not what's happening here, unless the puppy is out of frame.
Cut to the next day. Yoshida is awake and in a great mood as he gets ready to leave the house. He looks around and says, "So, this is America. I think I'm going to like it here." To recap the things he's done in the movie to this point:
- Killed a henchman in front of dozens of people by putting him in a car and crushing it in one of those junkyard car-smusher thingies.
- Gave a girl a lethal amount of meth, had sex with her, and chopped her head off with a samurai sword as he climaxed.
- Kidnapped Tia Carrere and raped her while showing her the videotape of him giving her best friend a lethal amount of meth, having sex with her, and chopping her head off with a samurai sword as he climaxed.
Little does Yoshida know that he's being staked out. As mentioned earlier, our two heroes are played by Dolph Lundgren (Ivan Drago from Rocky IV) and Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee, and star of The Crow).
You can Google these guys if you want to. I've got bad dialogue, plot holes, and brutal death GIFs to discuss.
Ok, I'm going to cheat here. I'm only including this picture of Brandon Lee to point out a truly amazing piece of dialogue from later in the film. First of all, SPOILER ALERT: they're totally going to save Tia Carrere and get away. I know, you're shocked. And like 20 minutes after they save her, she - her body double, technically - gets naked in a tiny hot tub with Dolph Lundgren and has sex with him that night. (Which is perfectly normal behavior for a woman who was just sexually assaulted while being forced to watch video of her best friend being decapitated.)
ANYWAY, I guess Brandon Lee's character saw Dolph's character getting into the hot tub, so he delivers this line as the bad guys surround the house (around the 3:58 mark):
"Kenner, just in case we get killed, I wanted you to know... you have the biggest dick I've ever seen on a man." EXCLAMATION POINT. What. The. Hell. That. Line. I've been thinking about it for the better part of a week, and the only explanation I can come up with is that Dolph Lundgren's agent negotiated it in there. Like, "Fine, we'll take $10,000 less, but SOMEONE better say he's got a big dick or I'm walking RIGHT OUT THAT DOOR!" Also, please note Dolph's reaction. Acting at it's finest.
Ok, back to the scene. But seriously you guys... exclamation point.
Dolph spots Tia's character through the binoculars, and explains to Brandon Lee that she is preparing to commit seppuku (ritualized Japanese suicide) because she has been dishonored. Ok. But I think this would be a good time to point out that Tia Carrere - whose Japanese character sings Japanese lounge songs in a Japanese night club in Little Tokyo, and is preparing to commit Japanese suicide while wearing traditional Japanese clothing - is like 0% Japanese. According to the five minutes of Googling I just did, she is Chinese, Filipino, and Spanish, and was raised in Hawaii. The last time I checked, and I check this pretty frequently, none of those places are in Japan. Hollywood does this kind of crap all the time. It's disgusting.
Producer #1: Hey, we need a Japanese girl for this movie.
Producer #2: Let's get that chick from Wayne's World.
Producer #1: I think she's Chinese.
Producer #2: Whatever. Tell her to bring her nunchucks.
On the other hand, Dolph Lundgren spends the last fifteen minutes of the movie laying waste to Little Tokyo with a machine gun while dressed like this, which is EXPONENTIALLY more offensive I would imagine. So, you know, maybe pick your battles.
After seeing Tia's character preparing to kill herself, Dolph sneaks down the mountain and onto the compound to stop her. He does a lot of sneaking around in the movie, which delights me. Because if there's one thing musclebound, 6'5" Aryan Adonises are known for, it's an ability to blend in with their Asian surroundings.
What's important here is this: henchman are about to start gettin' got.
Immediately after sneaking onto the balcony, Dolph tiptoes up behind one guy and chokes him out. Then he starts marching around with a gun shooting people in the chest. This screencap is taken from part of the rampage where he is shooting while rolling across the floor and flat out looking ridiculous. Like that's what you do.
While I love this movie in many, many ways, it is missing one critical element: the stereotypically gruff captain. It was set up so perfectly for it, too! Dolph charged a compound with no warrant and killed like nine guys. I'm dumbfounded that the director didn't squeeze in three minutes of him being taken off the case with lines like "YOU'RE A LOOSE CANNON, KENNER!" or "THE MAYOR'S GONNA HAVE MY ASS FOR THIS!" or, my favorite, "I hate to do this, Kenner. You're a good cop... but I'm gonna need your badge and gun. Ah-ah-ah, the OTHER gun too, Kenner."
Quite frankly, I'm offended.
After shooting a bunch of guys, Dolph starts walking down the hallway and he senses that one of... You know what? Words and a screencap can't do this one justice. Here's a GIF.
In my breakdown of Cobra, I mentioned that getting shot in the back by a madman and falling into a Christmas tree was definitely not how I wanted to die. Please add "getting ripped through a door by Dolph Lundgren and having my neck snapped" to the list. Thank you.
Dolph finally gets to Tia's character (who apparently was taking her sweet ass time killing herself), picks her up, and backs out of the room through a window.
BONUS SECRET HOLLYWOOD RACISM: Tia's character apparently didn't hear the tenfinity gunshots, broken glass, or cries of the dying that filled the house for the last 90+ seconds. This is because Japanese people enter some sort of zombie-like trance when they are preparing to commit suicide, apparently. "Oo-OO-oo. The honorable ways of the East are mystical and confusing to your Western culture. Or so our ancestors have foretold!" (*sprinkles magic dust around room, kneels on rug*)
Dolph and Tia make their escape from the house, as henchman with machine guys fire a zillion bullets willy nilly in their general direction. So in order help them get away safely, because OF COURSE HE DOES, Dolph walks right over, crouches down, and flips a flipping muscle car up onto its side to serve as a shield. By himself.
The lessons we learn here are as follows: 1) Squats are very important to police work. 2) I imagine Dolph Lundgren has at least eight hernias.
As our hero and our Asian-of-indeterminate-origin damsel-in-distress escape, Dolph (while driving forward at a high rate of speed down a narrow driveway), reaches back over the driver's seat and fires one last bullet towards the gas tank of the overturned car. This can only mean one thing. That's right, people. It's time for another round of America's favorite game show... (*crowd shouts along in unison*) GUESS HOW BIG THE EXPLOSION WILL BE!
(*jogs onto stage holding skinny microphone while theme music plays*)
So, what do you think? One bullet shot towards a gas tank, that may not even be full. I mean, provided he even hit the gas tank square (no guarantee, given the high degree of difficulty), it still wouldn't blow up THAT much, right? Right?
So, in conclusion, explosions, machine guns, boobs, decapitations, neck-snapping GIFS, Dolph Lundgren's humongous penis, sexual assault, AMERICA, indefensible showbiz racism, attempted seppuku, potent methamphetamine, sneaky giant Aryans, preposterously evil crime bosses, implausible shows of human force, and violence against doors and windows. All that, and I didn't even GET TO the awesome greasy sax man music playing in the background throughout the film, or the fact that half the gunshots have that awful "PEW ZING PEW" ricochet sound effect like it's a western from the 1950s.
Showdown in Little Tokyo rules.
Author's Note: If you've got an idea for a scene I should breakdown, drop me a line on my Twitter or something (@DangerGuerrero). All I ask is that you send me a link to the video you're talking about. I'm incredibly lazy.