Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) Dolph Lundgren And Brandon Lee Join Forces To Fight Yakuza Boss

Johnny –We’re gonna nail this guy. And when we get done… we’re gonna go eat fish off those naked chicks!

OK, thanks for popping in for today’s review of Showdown In Little Tokyo.

All the best… Mikey Wolfman…

Me –Excuse me? What’s that? You wanted more of a review than lets eat shusi off naked girls? Oh! OK! I’ll see what I can come up with!

Two Los Angeles cops join forces. There’s the giant blond, musclebound, Chris Kenner (Dolph Lundgren) and the super chic, suited and slick Johnny Murata (Brandon Lee). Their paths had crossed when fighting breaks out in a noodle bar on the streets of Little Tokyo, an area of downtown LA. Chris, the tall American had been raised all his life in Japan and lived and breathed the culture. Whereas, Johnny, on the other-hand, was an all American boy of mixed Japanese descent and embraced everything of his country. Both were masters of their chosen martial art. Johnny eyes up Chris with confusion as he speaks Japanese and wears his favourite samurai ninja style outfit “You sure are going full out for culture appropriation bro?

Chris lives the life. He was friends with the local noodle bar owner, he speaks fluent Japanese, dresses the part and resides in a reconstruction of his old family home. A traditional Japanese style house with minimal furniture and shoji paper screens. Chris had a traumatic past. His parents were murdered in front of him by a young member of the Iron Claw Yakuza clan when he was 9 years old. Trained from an early age he’d managed to lash out with his sword and cut the Yakuza’s face as he escaped. He would never forget the killers fully tattooed torso featuring the Iron Claw emblem.One day he had vowed to revenge his parent. That day would arrive when Yoshida (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) turns up with his scarred face and kills the local nightclub owner of the Bonsai Club. Squished in a scrap car compactor!

The psychotic Kingpin Yakuza boss, Yoshida runs the Red Dragon local brewery, a front for his drug distribution trade. A place he assigns all the local hood gangs. Everything was running so smoothly. Crystal meth being shipped out in concealed beer bottles. It was the perfect operation. Apart from dishing out some decapitations here and there and the usual lunatic boss stuff, boss Yoshida was quite happy with himself. Well, that was until our fighting Fist of Fury friends turn up and start kicking his gangs ass.

Tagline – The deadliest vice-kingpin under the Rising Sun has just come to the City of Angels…where two angels of death are about to make him wish he’d stayed in Japan.

There’s a common question that often arises, along with other things, on this movie site whilst I revisit the old memories of the video store rental days. That old sage classic of legend… Will you be needing the pause button during the duration of this here movie? Well, I let you know there’s a bouncing, bountiful, abundance of booby action in this cult action film. I’d say close your eyes and randomly press that button anywhere and you’re bound to land on some joyful, eye popping scene or another.

And to counteract that abundance flashing of Dolph’s pectoral muscles poking out of his skimpy vest all the time! We get the gorgeous Tia Carrere playing hot girl, damsel in distress, Minako Okeya. She’s happy to join the flesh-fest and drops her drawers for some hot-tub, lets fix these bruised muscles, fun. Somehow her hair suddenly becomes longer in a different style and her breasts become somewhat larger? Must of been the angle of the camera? Surely they wouldn’t of used a body double with boob implants? Anyhow I digress…

Showdown In Little Tokyo is full of frantic 90s action mayhem. Clocking in at one hour and fifteen minutes it doesn’t stop. It’s relentless. Apparently, as a result of the studio being pissed at the final test screen reaction they went to town chopping it up. And to be honest to them, it’s made it a rollercoaster ride of fun. Tons of fighting in saunas and steam houses, plus shootout and kung-fu galore. Plenty of explosions and they even throw in a fun electric shock torture scene. It also features one of the greatest baddie deaths to be filmed. All I’ll say is it features a giant catherine wheel. It’s here on YouTube if you want to see it. But best of all is the buddy relationship between our Dolph and Brandon. It’s well written with all the constant cheesy macho banter between them. It’s is sad to see Brandon coming across really likable and makes you feel gutted that the son of legend Bruce Lee would be soon killed, in his prime, during the filming of The Crow (1994). Showdown In Little Tokyo is a fun way to remember him.

I’ll leave with some choice interaction between Chris and Johnny

  • Johnny – (Asking for a translation) “What did that mean?
    Chris –Roughly translated, out of the frying pan and boned up the ass with a red-hot poker.
    Johnny –There you have it.
  • Chris –Hey, she was frightened.
    Johnny –Yeah, I saw you strip down for that hot tub. I’d be frightened, too…
  • Johnny –Kenner, just in case we get killed, I wanted to tell you, you have the biggest dick I’ve ever seen on a man.”
    Chris –Thanks. I don’t know what to say.
  • Chris –Are you scared?
    Johnny – (Bends down to smell his ass then stands back upright) “Nah!
  • Johnny – (Whilst being tortured with electric) “In between cooking cycles you’re supposed to baste us!
    Chris –That’s right, you FUCKING IDIOTS!!!

Gridlock’d (1997) Tupac Shakur And Tim Roth Are Spoken Word Jazz Band Dope Fiends

When a film opens with a conversation about penis implants and, later, a N word discussion, you can’t help but think the scriptwriters were trying to channel some Quentin Tarantino vibes. Furthermore, when one of the characters feels like Pumpkin from Pulp Fiction (1994) had dumped his crazy girlfriend, Honey Bunny, and ran off to join a jazz band, you can’t help but smile. However, Gridlock’d, really is it’s own movie. It’s shot very stylish, has a frantic paced script, features a deep strong message and best of all, you get a wonderful chemistry between it’s two leads. It might slip off the rails into slap stick territory in the last quarter but it’s hard not to like it for it. It’s a quirky buddy movie. So what’s it about?

It’s New Years Eve in Detroit. Three close friends shoot the shit, heroin, jokes and their love together in their apartment. They are a trio. A spoken word jazz band called Eight Mile Road on the verge of getting picked up. On vocals is the svelte Cookie (Thandiwe Newton). On bass and back up vocals is the cool Spoon (Tupac Shakur) leaving stoned Stretch (Tim Roth) on keys. They’d just finished a gig. It had gone well. A music executive had shown a great deal of promise. Cookie was excited. She’d been slipped a bag of powder, she’d managed to keep off it whilst her two friends were constantly wasted. It was time to celebrate, she wanted to try the high… It doesn’t go well…

Cookie OD’s! Distraught and stoned out of their minds, Spoon and Stretch frantically try to get their beloved friend to the hospital. It’s Detroit, it’s New Years Eve. No one will help, no taxi will stop, they can’t call an ambulance, they don’t have health insurance, the system is broke. Eventually they make it, with everything against them. Will she live or die? No one knows…

Gridlock’d‘s fundamental message is the contemptuous government bureaucracy and mockery of a broken health care system. Based on writer and director Vondie Curtis-Hall own, early life, experiences. Being young in a band surrounded by people doing drugs, getting the idea that your creativity will become enhanced. Before you know it, you become dependent and caught in a vicious circle. “We went to try and get into rehab. Ended up wandering around from place to place, no one giving us any help. I remembered that when it came to writing my first movie.“. This is the premise of the film.

Tagline –Life is a traffic jam!

With the trauma and drama of the night before, Spoon has a moment of epiphany. He has to get clean, get off the smack and sort his life out. Stretch on the other hand is happy getting smashed. His moment of realisation hadn’t come to him yet. However, Spoon was his brother, they were tight. He’d do anything to help his friend out, even if it meant going through the pain of detox. Gridlock’d follows these two friends struggle to get that so needed help. A rehabilitation program, get help with Medicare, be given methadone, desperately any help to kick the life destructive habit. We follow their odyssey, travelling to one place to another. Met with disappointment and despair. Whilst on this arduous mission they encounter countless run-ins with the law, the homeless, other drug addicts, dealers and dope fiends. To make matters worse, they happen to upset a local hood gangster. with the cool, scary name of D Reper. Played by the director, Vondie Curtis-Hall himself. D Reper and his henchman (Tom Towles) add to the comic side of the film along with a recurring character, a blind man (Howard Hesseman) and his rottweiler dog.

It’s a great film. I really enjoyed it. We all know Tim Roth is an amazing actor but apart from Juice (1992) I’d never seen Tupac act. It’s really sad to see just how good and likable he is in this film. At the ridiculously young age of 25 he would soon be gunned down and pronounced dead on September 13, 1996. Gridlock’d would be released posthumously with the end credit dedication “For Tupac “One Love” R.I.P.

Flash backs to the three friends are filtered through the film with negative exposure fading back into colour. These give background to Eight Mile Road and I have to admit I laughed out loud seeing Tim Roth with his shades in jazz piano mode. You also get more Cookie moments with the slender Thandiwe Newton walking around in her tighty whities and showing rather more than expected. I’m a big fan of Westworld so I’ve seen it all and more, before. Hehe…

What makes this movie is the buddy angle. On paper there’s no way you can imagine Tupac and Tim Roth together. Probably the reason I never watched it at the time. But you couldn’t be more wrong, these two have such a rapport. Their relationship is rock solid, brothers. They’ve got each others backs. Getting wasted together, sat for hours sleeping and waiting in chairs, queuing forever, walking from one disappointment to the next. Even under gun fire and dodging police. They smoke a hundred cigarettes and even sword fight sharing the toilet. These two are tight. Their close frendship solidifies the movie.

Wolfman Rating 7.5/10 IMDB Rating 6.9/10

Feel free to let me know if you’ve seen this one, got recommendations or factoids or just want to say hello… 

Big love and keep watching those square shaped screens…. Mikey Wolfman

Dark Angel (1990) Dolph Lundgren & Death By Compact Disc

Dark Angel (1990) Dolph Lundgren sci-fi action movie poster aliens cop

Dark Angel stars the most American looking I think I’ve ever seen Dolph Lundgren?  (Well Canadian I should add). With his perfectly coiffed dyed dark brown hair he somewhat, to me, looked like Nathan Fillion from Firefly. He wore a similar brown jacket too. Dolph didn’t seem to have much of his Swedish or, in the case of his famous Drago, a Russian accent either.

Dark Angel (1990) Dolph Lundgren looking like Nathan Fillion Continue reading

Rubin And Ed (1991) Trent Harris Unleashes Crispin Glover And Howard Hesseman In A Cult Movie Gem

Rubin and Ed (1991) Trent Harris porters beers signed DVD wolfman cult film

Signed copy by director Trent Harris too!

Now I knew I was gonna be in for a surreal trip so I lubricated up the old mind gears with a few bottles of strong, dark as oil, ale. The first line on the back of the DVD box reads “A delirious detour from the ordinary!“. I grab another bottle and guzzled back more of the good stuff. With a chance encounter with this curious cult Rubin and Ed DVD flying into my mitts from afar, I just couldn’t get my hairy arse sat down quick enough. “Right here I go, I’m going inContinue reading

Enemy Mine (1985) The Defiant Ones Battle It Out Like Hell In The Pacific

enemy mine (1985) louis gossett jr dennis quaid sci-fi alien buddy poster cover movie

Science fiction often finds the ability to tackle prejudice and racial discrimination through the medium of film. Brother From Another Planet tackled many race and slavery issues, District 9 had the theme of apartheid running throughout. Racial segregation swapped to species segregation. Even the X-Men series touched on prejudice with the oppression of mutants. It runs through many story lines from film to television and on the whole is played out thoughtfully with a deep underlying message. One of my favourite genres that tackles racist behaviour has been with the classic buddy movie trope. Like Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis battling it out in 1958s The Defiant Ones but lets flip it into space or something. Continue reading