Showdown in Little Tokyo [1991]

Showdown in Little Tokyo is a 1991 martial arts action-comedy that, in pitting Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee as L.A. cops against Japanese drug dealers, plays like a B-movie Tango and Cash or Lethal Weapon 2 (both released just two years before). Between career highs in Rocky IV (1985) and Universal Soldier (1992), Lundgren looked as if he might make it big at the box office, and clearly wanting to be the new Schwarzenegger he is here directed by Mark L Lester, who had earlier helmed Ah-nold's Commando (1985). In the event both actor and director headed for straight-to-video territory, while Lee (Bruce's son) went on to The Crow. The 75-minute running time suggests the studio lost confidence and seriously cut the movie though, as the space between the action is filled with nothing but cringe-inducing dialogue, thriller clich├ęs, and Lundgren "romancing" Tia Carrere, it still makes sense. Basing its title on John Carpenter's 1986 fantasy-comedy Big Trouble in Little China and anticipating Rush Hour (1998), Showdown in Little Tokyo alternates between crude tongue-in-cheek moments and action so ludicrous it's unintentionally hilarious . A camp disaster that simply defies belief, this is so-bad-it's-good entertainment. --Gary S. Dalkin

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