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Film / Showdown in Little Tokyo

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Showdown in Little Tokyo is a 1991 action film. It features Brandon Lee in his first American film role, starring alongside Dolph Lundgren. In this film set in Los Angeles, two police officers (Johnny Murata and Sgt. Chris Kenner, respectively) attempt to take down a Yakuza drug operation. The tone of the movie follows the traditional buddy cop formula. Kenner's Love Interest is played by Tia Carrere, while the Big Bad is played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.


This film provides examples of:

  • And This Is for...: Kenner delivers it to Yoshida once he kills him:
    "This is for my parents."
  • An Arm and a Leg: A drug dealer who disagrees with Yoshida's pricing gets his hand cut off. Needless to say, he gets the message.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Murata is this.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Murata makes his first appearance in one and fights in it a few times as well.
  • Bar Brawl: Kenner and Murata get into one after visiting the Banzai Club.
  • Bathhouse Blitz: Kenner and Murata confront the Yakuza while the entire gang is taking time off to visit a private bathhouse, so a brawl with the heavily tattooed gangsters inevitably ensues.
  • Big Bad: Yoshida, the leader of the Iron Claw yakuza clan and the murderer of Kenner's parents.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: According to Murata, Kenner has "the biggest dick I've ever seen," said with a complimentary tone.
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  • Body Sushi: We see the yakuza enjoying this "meal" at one point. Murata promises Kenner that they'll do the same after they get revenge for his parents.
  • Bond One-Liner: From Murata, after Yoshida's death.
    "Nice slicing and dicing, partner!"
  • Bottomless Magazines: Kenner and Murata raid Yoshida's drug factory using M-16's, firing hundreds of rounds and never once stopping to reload.
  • Buddy Cop Show
  • Building Swing: In the opening scene, Kenner interrupts an illegal boxing match by swinging into the ring via a rope.
  • The Comically Serious: Kenner is built like a Greek statue, and just as likely to crack a smile - still, it only serves to make the film funnier.
  • Caught on Tape: Angel warning Tanaka about Yoshida behind his back.
  • Conveyor Belt of Doom: Kenner and Murata are trapped in Kenner's car when the bad guys place it in a car crusher. Deciding that this isn't enough, they only crush it halfway and place them on a conveyor belt to be ground up into bits.
  • Cowboy Cop: After Kenner reveals to Murata that Yoshida was his parents' killer and it becomes a personal vendetta, Murata agrees to screw protocol and go after the Yakuza guns blazing. From there on they slaughter the bad guys en masse rather than arrest them and end up burning the bad guy alive in public. Lampshaded by Murata when he feels uneasy explaining what they did to the cops and he and Kenner run away and at the end wonders how they're going to explain everything in their report.
  • Create Your Own Hero: The current Yakuza boss killing the hero's parents as an assassin decades earlier is what drove him to become a cop in the first place.
  • Damsel in Distress: After Yoshida recaptures Minako he takes her with him as a hostage. He eventually ties her up covered in gasoline and tries to burn her alive in front of Kenner.
  • Death as Comedy: Yoshida, after crushing Tanaka in a car compactor: "Hate to see him die that way. It crushes me."
  • Decapitation Presentation: After Angel is killed, the Coroner casually unzips the bag containing her severed head (in public!) to show to Kenner.
  • Defiled Forever: The Big Bad is strongly implied to have raped the lead singer of his new club. In the next scene the singer is about to commit Seppuku after Kenner notes that it's usually only done by women in cases of extreme dishonor.
  • Discretion Shot: When groping Angel from behind, Yoshida uses a knife to tear off her skirt, but it isn't shown on-screen. Rather, the sound of the skirt being torn is heard.
  • The Dragon: Sato, Yoshida's second-in-command, the bald mustached Yakuza. Fittingly, he's defeated in a fight with Murata, The Lancer.
  • Electric Torture: After capturing the heroes, Yoshida orders Kenner and Murata to be tortured to death by electrocution. They try to piss him off by initially laughing it off until they increase the voltage to truly unbearable levels.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Angel tries to bribe Yoshida by offering to "do him" - it doesn't go well.
  • Fight Scene: Several.
  • Flashback: The death of Kenner's parents.
  • Gag Penis: They actually halt an action scene just so Murata can tell Kenner "Just in case we get killed, I wanted to tell you, you have the biggest dick I've ever seen on a man." He also jokingly notes that its size scared him.
  • Give Me a Reason: When Murata and Kenner go to arrest Yoshida at a Japanese bath house, Kenner lists his various crimes and tells him to come with them to the station or give him a reason to blow his head off.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: After rescuing Minako from Yoshida's house, Kenner jumps into one of the vacant cars, starts it immediately and drives off.
  • High-Speed Hijack: Kenner and Yoshida hijack a truck headed for Yoshida's brewery whilst it is moving.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Yoshida makes some unwanted advances to Minako, the lead singer at his recently 'acquired' club. He kidnaps her and drags her into his bedroom by her hair before he shows her how he killed her friend Angel and warns that the same will happen to her if she disobeys him.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: When Kenner invades Yoshida's house to rescue Minako and is totally outnumbered, none of them can land a single clear shot on him.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Kenner is able to shoot one of Yoshida's men using a Desert Eagle, whilst carrying Minako in both hands!
  • Improvised Weapon: During Murata's fight with The Dragon, they both break off metal bars in the refinery they're fighting in to use as weapons.
  • In a Single Bound: When Kenner chases the Yakuza out onto the street, they attempt to run him over. Rather than get out of the way, he casually jumps over the speeding car and lands perfectly.
  • Interrupted Suicide: When Kenner and Murata notice that the kidnapped Minako is about to commit suicide in the bad guy's mansion, Kenner bursts into the place shooting up mooks and stops her in time.
  • Kick the Dog: Yoshida's early murder of Angel after she tries to bribe her way out of being killed for warning one of his victims by screwing him in front of his own men. The coroner later notes that they already got her so high on methamphetamines that she would have been dead in 20 minutes anyway, decapitating her mid-coitus was redundant and done purely out of cruelty (and possible as a warning).
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Kenner and Murata are like this after mere hours of meeting each other.
  • Mexican Standoff: The heroes and the Yakuza end up in a standoff when they're taken to see the boss. The culture-savvy cop notes that they should make an effort to respect them if they are to be let off with a warning, but when he realizes that it's the same man who murdered his parents in Japan years before he immediately points his gun at the boss's head. The situation eventually defuses when he points out that too many people saw them come in, so they can't just make the two L.A. cops simply disappear.
  • Miranda Rights: Brandon Lee's character uses the Miranda rights as Trash Talk during a fight, capping it with the Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "you have the right to be dead".
  • Mighty Whitey: A blond, tall, muscular American cop raised in Japanese culture slaughters an army of Yakuza and is physically and martially superior to anyone, including his comic relief half-Asian partner. His sexual prowess is commented on while the Yakuza boss is implied to be impotent unless he beats women and he romances an Asian woman whom the boss had kidnapped and previously raped.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Kenner and Murata are both wearing nothing but their shorts when they are captured and tortured.
    • Kenner shows off his impressive biceps and pecs by wearing sleeveless shirts most of the time.
    • When in bed with Minako, Kenner hears the Yakuza approaching and gets out of bed, giving the audience a full view of his figure from behind.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Tia Carrere removing her robe and entering a hot tub (although her full nude scenes were done by a body double).
    • Renee Griffin being stripped down to her garter belt using a knife.
    • A naked woman having sushi eaten off her torso.
    • Scantily clad female Sumo Wrestlers at the Banzai Club.
    • Topless females wearing nothing but a bikini bottom at Yoshida's party.
  • Neck Snap:
    • A yakuza thug captured by Kenner and Murata snaps his own neck to avoid being interrogated.
    • Kenner also breaks a mook's neck during Minako's rescue at the boss's mansion.
  • Odd Couple: Kenner is an American raised in Japan who has embraced Japanese culture and customs. Murata is of partial Japanese descent but identifies more closely with American culture.
  • Off With Her Head: Yoshida does this to Angel in a ruthless Kick the Dog moment for warning Tanaka, his previous victim, about him behind his back.
  • Past Victim Showcase: The bad guy cements one of his Kick the Dog moments by forcing himself onto the singer of his new club after showing her a videotape of him previously decapitating one of her friends.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: After Yoshida displays a sexual interest in Minako, he's seen dragging her into his bedroom and strips down. He shows her a tape depicting how he decapitated her friend Angel previously and warns her that the same will happen to her if she disobeys him. The actual rape isn't depicted, but it's strongly hinted that Minako is Driven to Suicide afterwards.
  • Rescue Romance: After Kenner saves Minako from captivity and sexual abuse by the villain, she becomes attracted to him and cuddles up to him in his home for safety before they have sex.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Murata throws his into a vat to kill an assailant, which also causes explosions all over the factory.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Yakuza are portrayed as this in a meeting they have in their drug refinery with several established American gangs, including Mexicans, African Americans and bikers. Yoshida cuts off one of the bikers' hands with his katana over a racial insult and cajoles the rest of the gangs to accept his leadership.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Poor Minako's personality isn't very developed, and it's mostly geared around the Rescue Romance with Kenner and the horrible treatment she got from Yoshida.
  • Shameful Strip: Yoshida uses a knife to publicly cut off all of Angel's clothing as punishment for warning Tanaka about him behind his back.
  • Seppuku: Minako attempts to commit this after the Big Bad is strongly implied to have raped her.
  • Sexual Karma: Kenner is a muscular sexual dynamo whose penis size is literally complimented by his detective partner. Yoshida is a misogynistic rapist who is implied to not be able to get it up unless he physically beats women.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Kenner takes off his jacket several times to walk around in a tank top and show off his arms.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: After Kenner flips a car on its side with his bare hands, he shoots the fuel tank as he escapes to make it explode.
  • Snuff Film: The Yakuza bad guy captured his decapitation by katana of a woman on camera, then later shows it to one of her friends as a threat of what he might do to her.
  • Soft Glass: When Kenner rescues Minako, he picks her up and casually strolls through a glass door, resulting in glass shards everywhere but absolutely no injuries to himself or Minako.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security:
    • Kenner breaks into Yoshida's house effortlessly despite numerous guards being on duty.
    • Kenner and Murata enter the Bonzai club via the back door with little resistance from Yoshida's men.
  • Training Montage: Prior to Kenner commencing his assault on Yoshida's brewery.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: When Kenner is relaxing in the hot tub at his house alone, Minako strips down to join him.
  • Villain Ball:
    • When Yoshida manages to capture Kenner and Murata the first time, rather than just execute them on the spot he instead has them tortured via electrocution. Needless to say, they manage to escape the trap.
    • Shortly after, Yoshida captures them again and attempts to execute them in a car crusher, from which they escape again.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Kenner spends the gunfight at his home, the electric torture scene and the final sword fight with Yoshida continuously shirtless. Many of the Yakuza are also shirtless a lot of the time to show off their gang tattoos.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Angel is murdered within minutes of being introduced to the story.
  • You Have Failed Me: Done by Yoshida more than once, the earliest by trapping someone in a car beneath a running compactor.
  • You Killed My Father: Before Yoshida became a Yakuza boss he was working as a lowly assassin for the gang when Kenner was growing up in Japan and murdered Kenner's parents in front of him before trying to kill the young boy. This makes the case exceptionally personal for Kenner and he almost blows the bad guy's head off in front of his whole gang when he recognizes him when they meet again. His partner Murata agrees to help him complete his vendetta after Kenner explains it to him.
  • Yubitsume: One of Yoshida's subordinates does this because he fails to prevent the heroes from rescuing the girl his boss had kidnapped and molested. Too pissed off, his master just drives his katana through the lackey's chest afterwards.