Battle of the Tough Guys

August 23, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Assault on Precinct 13

SIMPLE


As promised, this weeks “Action Movie Time Machine” destination will be to that of quality! After the blunder that is “Assassins”, I had to think hard and ask myself “How can I make things right?”. Well I’ve figured out a way. I’m retro-fitting the Time Machine with my big guns. We’re taking on some of the greatest action films of all time. The films of John Carpenter!
The year was 1976. David Berkowitz earned the names “Son of Sam“ and “.44 Killer“ for attacking and killing a series of men and women. The “Laverne & Shirley” spin-off from “Happy Days” and “Bionic Woman” both debuts on ABC. The U.S. preformed nuclear tests in the Nevada desert…again…for some reason, and there was an “Assault on Precinct 13”.
THE SKINNY
The film begins with a police crackdown on gang crime. As they are investigating the disappearance of several crates of stolen automatic weapons which are in the possession of a deadly gang. Their investigation leads them to a run-in with six armed gang members who are brought to their untimely end.

Once word reaches the rest of the gang, their four Warlord leaders decide to exact their revenge on the good people of Los Angeles, as well as the LAPD.
While this plan is set in motion, Lieutenant Ethan Bishop, Austin Stoker, has just been transferred to a new department. On the first day he is assigned to watch over Precinct 13 on it’s final day of business. The precinct has been consolidated with another and all the files and personnel are being sent across town. He just has to make sure everything goes smoothly. It’s worth mentioning that Bishop and the other staff are expecting the phone and electricity to be shut off at any moment. I have a sneaking suspicion this might be important later. Call me crazy.
Meanwhile, Napoleon Wilson, Darwin Joston, is a hardened criminal who is being transferred to a maximum security prison with two other practitioners of the illegal arts. On the long buss ride, one of the men becomes violently ill and the guards make a stop at the closest precinct, Precinct 13, to have a doctor look him over.

As the day burns on the Warlords and their gang unpack their newly acquired automatic weapons and begin crusin’ the city looking for hapless victims. Who do they set their sights on first? An ice cream truck driver and the little girl he was selling ice cream too. These are some bad dudes! The girls father retaliates, hunting down one of the gang members. But soon he becomes the hunted. Exhausted and out of breath, the man falls on the steps of Precinct 13, where he takes refuge.
The gang is now out for blood. They want the man responsible for killing one of their brother and now hove the entire building surrounded.
Bishop, Napoleon & Leigh, another officer played by Laurie Zimmer, now must defend the girl’s father as well as themselves from the countless gang members as they try to infiltrate the building. The three must learn to trust each other as they fend off wave after wave of attacks without being able to phone or radio for help. Ya know, cause the phone and electricity got shut off.

In a scene that is reminiscent of “300”, the survivors hideout in a store room located at the end of a long corridor, causing the gang to bottleneck as they attack. But you see this is just part of their plan. At the end of the hall, behind the attacking gang, is a tank of acetylene. Once the gang fills the hall Napoleon holds them off while Bishop takes a shot at the tank, which he hits blowing up the gang.
While Leigh is being treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, Bishop walks Napoleon out of the building as friends. The End.
THE VERDICT
John Carpenter is a huge fan of director Howard Hawks. Growing up, he fell in love with  such Hawks films as “The Thing From Another World”, and “Rio Bravo”. These films each shared a common element. A rag-tag group of men fighting against impossible odds to survive. I can’t say that Carpenter is solely responsible for “Assault on Precinct 13”, as it is a re-imagining of “Rio Bravo”, a film about a sheriff, a drunk, a cripple and teen gunfighter who defend the local jail from waves of attackers trying to free a captured criminal.

Carpenter’s love for this type of story involving the “every day” hero is present in much of his work (“Escape from New York, They Live and Big Trouble in Little China”), and has become something that is equally enjoyable for his fans as it was for him watching the film so Hawks. The heroes seem relatable and familiar  — like people you may know — which allow them to be rooted for and 

empathized with all the more.


Speaking of which, the relationship Napoleon and Bishop have. Early on neither trusts the other, but when shit starts to hit the wall they realize that they are going to have to learn to trust each other if they are going to survive the night. Of course by the end of the film, their career choices aside, Napoleon and Bishop accept each other as equals. Classic action movie man-code!
Another thing concerning the Napoleon/Bishop relationship. Race never factors into it. I know I mentioned race during my “Passenger 57” review and how it could have made the film more interesting. But “Assault” is the opposite. Race is never mentioned once. Not by Napoleon — a white guy. Or Bishop — a black dude. Not to or about each other, and not to or about the attacking gang. The police officer and the career criminal have enough to overcome between each other and the swarms of bad guys.
I only mention this because it seem like the type of thing that could have easily found it’s way into this ‘70s film. I think ninety nine out of one hundred other writers/directors would have jumped at the opportunity to weave their own personal message into the movie, regardless whether or not it was a good decision. The film didn’t need it and I feel thankful that it was left out. The same could be said about any feminist message — Leigh is one bad-ass chick!
Again, “Assault” is about a small group fighting for their lives and earning each others respect by the end of it. Adding anything to that could have complicated and perhaps ruined the simple and effective story. It would have come off preachy and acted as a backhanded compliment to the characters and the audience watching. The strength of this films story is it’s simplicity.
In Carpenter’s modernization, he added to the “Rio Bravo” story the escalating violence that was present in the urban areas during the ‘70s. Typically brought on by political, social and economic reasons, in “Assault on Precinct 13” the attackers seem to attack for no other reason than because they are bad guys and that‘s what bad guys do.
I compare the gang in this movie to the crime you might hear about on your local news. The news caster always describes the crime — what was robbed or who was stabbed, ect. — but rarely is the perpetrator ever seen, or do they speak for themselves. It’s like all the “bad things” are some sort of entity that lurks in the shadows and acts without motive or reason.
I think the attackers, who are virtually faceless in this film (the police too), are tremendously effective in this way. They don’t seem to have any particular motivation, personality, voice, or purpose other than to kill. In some ways they are like Michael Myers as the boogieman. They seem to represent crime and violence in a general way without themselves being any one specific criminal.
I have just a few final comments. The first being about John Carpenter’s score. Again he managed to compose music that is as moody and functional as it is pleasant to listen too. Check it out for yourself here. Also, I don’t think this film was every any direct inspiration for a video game, but it should be. I would play the shit out of an sixteen bit “Assault” game.
Without movies like “Assault on Precinct 13”, there would be no “Predator” and there would be no “Aliens”. “Assault” might seem tame by the standards set in the ‘80s, but “Assault” is the roots of those films and I highly recommend checking it out.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly pod casts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
August 15, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Assassins

CYBER-DUMP

All aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine” for one final “Battle of the Tough Guys” review before we all go see “Expendables 3”. This time we get a twofer. Antonia Banderas matches wits with the Italian Stallion. Banderas, the two time mariachi band leader, now joins the Expendables roster, and a fitting addition he is.
The year is 1995, and a terrible year it was. Timothy McVeigh detonated a car bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Nintendo released the “Virtual Boy” which later proved to be a commercial failure. Dirty hippies everywhere mourned the passing of Jerry Garcia and the Internet becomes privatized and found it’s way into “Assassins“.
THE SKINNY
Our tale begins with Robert Rath, Sylvester Stallone, the worlds most skilled assassin who has recently accepted a contract to kill billionaire Allan Branch. This takes Rath, and us, to the cemetery where Branch is paying his respects to his brother who recently passed away as a result of a car accident.
Branch, whose character is short lived, is interesting because while he is at his brother’s funeral, the swarming media can be overheard reporting on Branch and how he is under investigation for funding para-military right-wing hit squads in South America. The film is littered with these, sort of, left-wing jabs at the right. In another scene an anti-NRA advertisement can be seen on the side of a bus. These things aren’t important but funny to see in a film starring Stallone, who is a diehard Republican. Hmm, “Diehard Republican”, that could be the title of his next movie. Moving on.

Just as Rath is preparing to take the shot, using the old “you can’t see my gun because I‘m wearing a fake cast” trick, a shot rings out and Branch falls dead. Someone has beaten Rath to the punch. In assassin lingo he “retired” Rath’s “mark”.
After a brief fire fight with police, Miguel Bain, Antonio Banderas, is captured and taken into custody. Rath, curious about who this other assassin is and who tipped him off about his contract, follows after Bain and discovers that he, from the backseat of the cop car and handcuffed, managed to cause said cop car to barrel roll and he escaped police custody.
Rath continues to hunt down clues as to who this mystery assassin is, but takes another contract in the meantime. This takes him to some five star hotel where he will be intercepting a deal between an unknown lady hacker and a group of Dutch men. Apparently she has stolen some top secret encrypted data, stored on a 3.5 inch floppy disc no less, and is attempting to sell it. Rath is sent to retrieve the disc, eliminate the Dutch buyers and retire the mark, who we later learn is Electra, Julianne Moore. This is all fine and well, but once again Bain shows up and makes Rath’s plans all the more difficult to carry out. You could say that Bain is the BANE of Rath… These names are stupid.
Rath, now believing that he himself is a mark, escapes with Electra and the disc in an attempt to find out what exactly is going on; who is after him? and what information is on the disc?. A lot of plot happens here. I mean A LOT. So let me try to shorten this as best I can so I don’t turn this review into a book.

Rath and Bain have several uneventful run-ins before he and Electra escape the city. Oh, don’t forget Pearl, Electra’s cat. To make her even more interesting she’s a cat lady. When they do escape, they use the Internet to set up an exchange for the disc and two million dollars from whom they suspected is the CIA. The money is for Rath so he can get outta the killin’ game and finally retire. This however was a double cross and his briefcase full of money explodes. But that’s okay because the disc was a fake anyhow.
At this time we also learn that Rath was once contracted to assassinate Nicolai Tashlinkov, a fellow assassin and friend, fifteen years prior. This was something Rath has always wrestled with. I wonder how this might effect the outcome of this story.
Rath and Electra then use their 1990s laptop and their 1990s dial up Internet connection from the back of Electra’s Mustang — somehow — to arrange yet another exchange. This time for the real disc and now twenty million dollars. The money is wired to a bank account of Rath’s in the Caribbean. All he and Electra have to do is withdraw the cash in person and leave the disc in a safety deposit box for the contractor to collect.

Again this is all fine and well, but the nameless contractor seems to be playing Rath and Bain against each other. Because, again, Bain shows up to foil Rath’s plan. This time Bain stakes out the bank, with Rath inside, waiting for him to show his face. Bain wants to kill

While Bain, the guy who wants to be the greatest killer in the world, waits patiently from his sniper roost, nature starts a-callin’. With his rifle in one hand, he tries to piss in an empty water bottle with the other. Bain thinks he sees Rath leaving the bank, fumbled for his gun and ends up spilling his piss allover himself. Classy!
The Caribbean, as well as this particular bank, is very important to Rath. Fifteen years ago, Rath assassinated Tashlinkov as he was leaving this bank after also retiring from the game. Now Bain plans to do the same. This is some heavy shit people!
Long story short, Rath withdraws the cash before squaring off with Bain one last time. With Bain on his death bed, the true mastermind of this entire scenario makes himself known. Who is it? Tashlinkov! He faked his death and has been playing Rath and Bain against each other in a plot to get Electra within his grasp. Why you ask? Well the short answer is Communism. The long answer is that the information on the disc exposes Tashlinkov’s false death as well as his nefarious activities since then.

Both Rath and Bain realize that they have been played, and simultaneously turn and unload on Tashlinkov. Rath and Bain have some final words before Rath unleashes his WRATHon Bain and he and Electra walk off into the sunset, discussing her cat. The End!
THE VERDICT
Oh my god, this movie! “Assassins” should have been called “The Movie That Wouldn’t Die!” or “Welcome to Purgatory”. It had potential, sticking close to the standard conventions of action movies. But unfortunately it was carried out in such a way that took the wind out of it’s sails before it ever had a chance.
The action scenes fizzle out before they get good. The story is convoluted with much screen time being taken up with events that soon don’t matter. And the subtext is presented, but not around when it is needed.
It’s as if the script was written by blind librarians or something. Nothing personal against the visually impaired or literate. “Assassins” just feels like it’s an action movie made by people who have never seen an action movie. Like they were painting by numbers…with a paint brush stuck in their eyes. I personally blame director Richard Donner, but that is neither here nor there.
There is something that “Assassins” has in common with many films of this vintage. It doesn’t know how computers or the Internet work. This is surprising since it was written by the Wachowski…persons formerly known as brothers. Who, after “Assassins”, went on to make a little known film that goes by the name “The Matrix”. “The Matrix”, which is teeming with tech savvy, though much is fictionalized to better weave the web of fiction, is smart. “Assassins” is not. The Wachowskis have come along way, let me tell you.

The ’90s were funny when it came to computers. I compare it to the early ’60s atomic age of sci-fi,

where nuclear radiation was the cause of every kind of superhero and monstrous mutation conceivable. This was because people didn’t understand what radiation was or how it effects biology. In the ’90s, this type of sci-fi plot was seen as charmingly ridiculous or even laughable. In the ’10s, a time where large portions of our annual GDP is generated from the Internet & we have conversations with folks using our futuristic video phones, watching a film like “Assassins”, where people connect their laptop to some ever present dial-up wi-fi Internet connection from the back seat of their car, is also fucking laughable! Dial-up and wi-fi are somehow the same thing? Well in this movie they are. Computers are magic.
Many of the goofy usages of the Internet or predictable plot turns don’t make this a bad movie. “Assassins” is a bad movie because it isn’t fun to watch. It isn’t interesting or smart. It isn’t very entertaining either. It drones on for a full two hours and thirteen minutes with scene after scene that don’t bother to progress the story forward, nor do they do what action movie should always do. Have action! In the third act of the film we (two friends and myself) counted four instances in which Stallone and Banderas were in the same space-time and weren’t at each others throats. Excuse me, but isn’t this film called “Assassins”? Kill each other already!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
August 8, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Passenger 57

SAFE
 For this ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”, I have decided to continue with the “Expendables 3” theme of “Battle of the Tough Guys“. This time we will look at the work of Wesley Snipes, who is one of the newest additions to the Expendables team. A man who is no stranger to the action genre and who, according to what I’m sure is a more than reputable internet news source, was granted an early release from prison to take up arms against other tax evaders.
The year is 1992. President George H. W. Bush is televised becoming ill and vomiting in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Later Bush would step aside, allowing the newly elected, jazz saxophone playing Bill Clinton into the Oval Office. Also, the Cold War is declared officially over. Without the ever present threat of complete thermo-nuclear annihilation, Thrash-Metal musicians became disillusioned and began cutting their hair.
All this and Wesley Snipes took it personally when a few terrorists tried to hijack his plane, in “Passenger 57“.
THE SKINNY
Charles Rane, Bruce Payne, has just been captured by the FBI for countless crimes against his fellow man. Terrorism and murder mostly. The feds struck just as Rane was about to have his face altered by a plastic surgeon. He has been on the run for some time now and the reason he has always been able to allude capture is that he periodically changes his appearance surgically.
Now in custody, Rane is being transported via the friendly skies to Los Angeles, where he will await a trial and his inevitable execution.
Meanwhile, the career of former detective John Cutter, Wesley Snipes, has taken some interesting turns during the past several years. Cutter now trains security techniques to airline personnel, what to do in the case of a hijacking. Cutter took this job after one unfortunate evening when he and his wife walked into a convenience store which was being robbed. Cutter tried to stop the perp, but it resulted in Cutters wife being shot and killed.
Cutter has tried to put all that behind him but his reputation as a hardworking detective who has been giving airlines safety tips, has garnered him the attention of the federal anti-terrorism taskforce. They want him to head their department. Cutters bags are packed and he is on his way to Los Angeles.
Is this important? Not really. It’s just a way to unknowingly get Rane, a murderous mastermind, and Cutter, all around bad-ass, on the same plane together.

Rane is one of those guys who sees  himself as a bit of a genius and likes to think three steps ahead of everyone else. Because of this he has devised a daring escape plan involving several passengers and several flight staff, who work for him of course.
The plans genius is in it’s simplicity. They’ll hijack the plane, rig the plane to explode, jump from the plane before it explodes and when it does, no one will be able to tell who’s charred corpse is who’s. Rane would be as free as a bird to continue blowing up make-a-wish kids, or do whatever a sicko like Rane does.
But there is a flaw in his plan. He never figured John Cutter would be on the plane. Cutter, knowing the inner workings of the plane, disconnects some wires in the hull of the airship, causing it to purge it’s fuel supply. The plane is force to land and Rane sees this is an opportunity to escape. This is a mute point because Cutter, accompanied by several “good ol’ boy” rural police, track Rane down in a near by carnival and return him to custody.
  But there is a twist. Rane’s men are still holding several passengers hostage on the plane, and if he isn’t free to board the now re-fueled plane, they will execute the hostages. Without risking the lives of the passengers, the police grant Rane his freedom.
Rane again thinks he is the all knowing and all powerful cat’s meow, and again underestimates John Cutter. Cutter sneaks aboard through the planes landing gear as it takes off.
  One by one, Cutter dispatches Rane’s loyal henchmen before unarming the reconstituted bomb of his original escape plan.
Finally, as the plane rockets through the air, Rane and Cutter square off in a scene that shows little regard for aviation safety. Each of the men take their turns attempting to throw the other through the open hatch door.
Just when Cutter seems like he is fighting a losing battle, he repeatedly kicks Rane in the dick! Yes my friends. Our hero resorts to low blows. This flusters Rane, as it would anyone, causing him to lose his grip on the edge of the open hatch and fall to his death, somewhere on the surface of the Earth below.
The film concludes with Cutter and the cute flight attendant, who he had awkward flirtations with throughout the picture, walking off into the night to better get to know each other, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
 
THE VERDICT
All in all “Passenger 57” is a pretty good little action flick. It’s a hell of a lot better than other action films from it’s time (“Showdown in Little Tokyo“), more serious too. I only wish the villain was more of an immediate threat. Rane prides himself on being an evil genius, but we don’t get to see him do anything really intelligent. He’s good at escaping, but he isn’t very good at getting away.
Another drawback is the plane. Since the mid ’70s, when hijacking a plane was in vogue, there have been countless theatrical and made for television films about just that; a small group of terrorists hijacking a plane with threats of blowing it up. For this reason “Passenger 57” is rather forgettable. By the time it was released in ’92, the subject matter had been done, redone and lampooned, (“Airplane!”) with little room for improvement. Chuck Norris did it in the ’80s and Harrison Ford did it again in the late ’90s.
If only “Passenger 57” was over the top, then it might have had more lasting power throughout the years. There is no sex and the violence is tame by action movie standards. I think the studio was playing it safe with this one.
Talk about playing it safe, I noticed something rather interesting. I think “Passenger 57” is a ’90s version of a blaxploitation film. I didn’t notice it at first, but through the course of the film there are several subtle references to topical “black culture” of the early ’90s. Tom Sizemore’s character Sly refers to Cutter as “brother” several times, as if to seem casual and friendly, or even hip. But it comes off as goofy. It’s something an embarrassing dad might do to seem cool in front of his kids.
Aside from this and several Arsineo Hall references, which to me imply that this may have been made with a black audience in mind, the film has a tone to it. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s something vague. For instance Cutter encounters several small town southern police who first arrest him (not realizing that he is the hero), and then bust his balls throughout the rest of the film. They only start showing respect for him at the end of the film after Cutter has already saved the day. I think if this same movie was made in the ’70s there would have been a few “N-bombs” dropped, thus showing how much of an up-hill battle Cutter was fighting to do the right thing and to be the hero. It isn’t everyday that I find myself thinking how racism could have made a movie better, but here I am.
I think the filmmakers/studio had all this in mind and were planning to make a film about a strong black hero, rather than one simply starring a black actor. But I think they were afraid to make these race related elements too obvious in fear of seeming racist. OR, perhaps the studio wasn’t willing to gamble marketing a film to a minority fan base so they pulled the “questionable material” in order to broaden the audience and make more money. After all, Snipes was a pretty hot commodity at the time, regardless of the audience.
Either way, it seems “they”, the powers that be, pulled out any overt reference to race at the last minute, and what we’re left with is a film that seems sanitized. The ’90s were a strange time for race. It’s too bad because “Passenger 57” had potential beyond it’s limitations. Wesley Snipes could have been the next “Shaft”.
Anyhow, I’m Cory Carr and this has been another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. I hope you panty-wastes learned a thing or two about airplane safety. I know I sure didn’t. Until next time, Semper Fi!
August 1, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Showdown in LittleTokyo

ATYPICAL

In celebration of the upcoming “Expendables 3”, the guys here at Simplistic Reviews and I are getting familiar with some of the earlier films of past and present Expendables cast members, in a little thing we like to call “Battle of the Tough Guys”. Now gather ’round while I set the coordinates on the “Action Movie Time Machine”! And remember, keep your arms and legs inside the time machine at all times. It’s a time machine, not a damn merry-go-round.

The year is 1991. The United States and it’s allies are engaged militantly with the Iraq army in a little thing called “Desert Storm”. Sgt Slaughter has won the WWF Championship Title from the Ultimate Warrior & Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” reaches millions of disaffected youth through it’s music video that is growing in popularity on Music Television. Imagine that, MTV showing music videos.

Among the chaos that is this new decade, Brandon Lee & Dolph Lundgren team up to show the Yakuza whats-what in, “Showdown in Little Tokyo”.

THE SKINNY

Chris Kenner, Dolph Lundgren, is a hard boiled detective from the Los Angeles Asian dominated “Little Tokyo”. Kenner’s father was a serviceman during the WWII occupation of Japan. As a child he witnessed the murder of his parents by a Yakuza hitman. There he was raised in an orphanage and taught the native language and customs – including Bushido. Now as an adult, his fluent Japanese and deep understanding of their culture have suited him perfectly for working on assignment with the L.A.P.D.’s “Asian Task Force”.

Johnny Murata, Brandon Lee, has been recently assigned to be Kenner’s new partner. A team-up neither is thrilled about being a part of. Johnny is the opposite side of the coin in this odd couple. He is the wise cracking optimist who isn’t looking for trouble. Johnny, though he is half Japanese, doesn’t care much for traditions of the old world.


Kenner and Johnny have been assigned to investigate the death of some floozy named Angel. Her death catches the attention of the Asian Task Force when it is discovered that her head was expertly removed from her body with a katana, and was found in an area where the Yakuza have been known to frequent. The ulterior motives of the Yakuza are apparent when toxicology test the floozy’s blood and find that before being decapitated, she took a lethal dose of meth.

Kenner and Johnny question Minako, Tia Carrere, a friend and co-worker of Angel. They learn that the new owner of the nightclub the two girls work at is Yoshida, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, a Yakuza mob boss, who also happens to own the local Red Dragon Brewerie. Minako informs them that she watched Yoshida kill Angel for talking openly about his drug related business plans. Yoshida is going to use the brewerie distribution network to secretly transport meth in beer bottles.

It is also around this time that we learn that Yoshida happens to be the hitman who killed his parents. What a coincidence!



Kenner decided that Minako would be safer if she hid out at his mountain cabin with Johnny and himself. He and Minako share some sexy “getting to know each other” time in a hot tub, followed by some sexy “having sex with each other” time in Kenner’s bed, before a small army of Yakuza attack. Because, somehow they know where Kenner’s secret mountain cabin just so happens to be located.

Kenner and Johnny do what they can to defend the cabin but are out numbered and Minako is kidnapped. That is, not before a healthy dose of strange occurs. As our heroes prepare themselves for a fight, Johnny mentions that he saw Kenner strip naked as he hopped into the hot tub. He then tells Kenner; “You have the biggest dick I’ve ever seen on a man”. This line has no place and it made me wonder that purpose it served. But more on that later.



So, Kenner and Johnny head after Yoshida. They infiltrate the Red Dragon Brewerie by hi-jacking a beer truck and driving it through a brewerie wall. All hell breaks loose and before long the Yakuza are dead and the brewerie is on fire. Johnny rescues Minako and Kenner chases after an escaped Yoshida on foot.

Now I don’t want to be a stick in the mud, but when your a police officer, isn’t it important to collect evidence and arrest suspects? Ya can’t just go around setting drug operations on fire and blowing people up.

The foot chase leads to a festive night time parade in “Little Tokyo”. Kenner and Yoshida draw swords from a couple of Japanese war re-creationists and begin to battle. Yoshida gains an early upper hand, but soon Kenner turns the tables and avenges his parents death by plunging his katana into the heart of Yoshida. But that’s not all! He then throws Yoshida onto some sort of giant decorative pinwheel, which the sword lodges into. Fireworks on the pinwheel begin to light and it, as well as Yoshida attached to it, begin to spin as it bursts into a firework explosion. Those crazy Japanese sure know how to throw a party.


The films ends with Kenner, Johnny and Minako walking along the parade route, discussing how they are going to explain to the Chief of Police what happened as the credits begin to roll.

THE VERDICT
 
“Showdown in Little Tokyo” isn’t a great film. It’s not ever a great action movie, but it does have it’s moments. For better or worse.

What is interesting about Kenner and Johnny’s “odd couple” relationship and how it plays against stereotypes.

In the scene were Kenner and Johnny meet, Kenner is kicking the asses of some Yakuza goons who are trying to extort a neighborhood diner. Johnny shows up, expecting to meet a fellow police officer, and sees this 6ft. tall Swede in a leather jacket, smashing up a Japanese diner and assumes that he is the one who is up to no good. When Johnny walks through the door, Kenner immediately assumes that Johnny, an Asian man in a suit, is another Yakuza member and the two begin to fight.

We later learn that Kenner has been formally trained in Bushido and has an extensive knowledge of Japanese culture from having been raised in Japan. Johnny, who is half Japanese and was born in America, has little ties to his ancestors other than also having been taught Bushido. Johnny even says; “Look champ, I was raised in the Valley. My dad is a white who is a dentist. I know about malls, MTV and driving my dad’s car down Mulholland.”. They are each atypical characters, making their partnership even more atypical.

The way the “odd couple” dynamic is played with and used to counter predictable stereotypes is really what this film is about, aside from the good guys bringing the Yakuza to justice.

A similar juxtaposition is presented with the tradition of the Japanese “old country” and Bushido training placed in the neon lights and sandy beaches of Los Angeles.

These two elements, had they been built stronger into the story, could have really given “Showdown in Little Tokyo” character and made for a very memorable film. Unfortunately, these ideas are pushed aside and the movie is memorable for other reasons; “You have the biggest dick I’ve ever seen on a man.”

Action movies have often had a reputation of being laden with homosexuality [“Blood Sport”]. Buff, cocky and wise cracking men, often shirtless, standing face to face as they do battle with one another, grunting and sweating. Add some shitty ’80s synth music and you have a subliminal gay porno. But this “biggest dick” line is just so out there and in your face, no dick pun intended. It made me second guess Johnny’s playful—smart ass nature. I started to wonder if Brandon Lee’s character instead had been flirting with Kenner this whole time… but I digress.

The acting is pretty good. The fight scenes are less than mind blowing and are often hindered by Dolph’s size. He is too big to be fast enough to sell some of the martial arts moves. The story itself is standard fare for this type of film. The soundtrack, at times, sounds like it was lifted from an old “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon and I’m sure you would have guessed, the relationship between Kenner and Johnny is the real star of the show.



All in all, “Showdown in Little Tokyo” is worth checking out if you are an action movie aficionado. Or if you just like watching normal movies get a little weird. Some day we should take the time machine back to the ’20s, pick up Sigmund Freud and make him watch “Showdown in Little Tokyo”. Seriously!

I’m Cory Carr, and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

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