Here’s a “memory movie” that should remind me of this chick I was dating back in ’91, but it doesn’t. Not directly, anyway, despite her probably being with me when I first spotted the poster in the window of this local video store. There are only two memories I have for this flick, and the second one is connected more to this friend from high school I was still friends with at the time, but back to that first memory.
The store was inside this building; you could walk through it to get to Main Street. It bridged the parking lot in the concourse with it, and between there were these store fronts, one of them was the aforementioned video store, and one day while me, and I’m going to assume her, were heading through I spotted the poster. It’s the same one being used on Warner’s blu. My first thought was, just by title alone, ‘…a rip off of Big Trouble In Little China (1986),’ then as I noticed Dolph Lundgren’s name, I thought, ‘oh, sweet a new Dolph movie!.’ Surprised I was because I hadn’t heard of this movie in any of the action movie magazines I used to buy back then or on Entertainment Tonight, my source back then for all movies that weren’t horror related.
At the time I had never heard of Brandon Lee so his name on the poster didn’t even garner a double take.
My next memory isn’t until spring of ’92 when it finally hit cable. My friend at the time, Chris, was heavy into swords, mostly Japanese, I on the other hand was still dabbling in the martial arts, and so this movie was perfect for the both of us. I remember mentioning it to him one day when were hanging out and he asked me to record it.
I’d say it’s not just the title that the filmmakers took from Big Trouble In Little China. If you remember that flick the joke is that Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton character is the sidekick and his sidekick in the movie, Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), is the actual hero, well, they did a “character twist” with Chris Kenner (Lundgren) and Johnny Murata (Lee) for Showdown. Murata is transferred over from the Asian Task Force to be partnered with Kenner, but the twist here is that Johnny knows next to nothing about his own culture. As he tells Kenner, his father is a white guy, a dentist, he was raised in Malibu, he knows about malls and MTV, where has Kenner, the non-Asian, the white guy, was raised in Japan, was brought up in the Japanese culture and loves every bit of it.
The bad guys are the Yakuza, headed by Funekei Yoshida (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). Tagawa is one of my favorite actors, but, man, they sure love putting him in the role of the bad guy. The Yakuza are invading Little Tokyo eager to bring a new drug to America. But aside from that Kenner knows Yoshida personally, he killed Kenner’s parents when he was a kid and Kenner was there to witness it and scar Yoshida’s face with his own sword.
Our damsel in distress for this outing is the ever hot Tia Carrere playing Minako Okeya, a lounge singer that frequents the club Yoshida now owns. Yoshida recently killed one of her friends for giving a competitor the heads up that he was taking over. Yoshida kidnaps her at one point and from what was insinuated rapes her, but not before showing her the tape of him killing her friend. Kenner learns that she’s now the key to putting Yoshida away, but we all know this Yoshida is not destined for a jail cell, he’s so much scum and Kenner will eventually be forced to kill him. Meanwhile Brandon Lee makes a really good first impression and not only with his martial arts, he’s also likable and has good chemistry with Lundgren. I wish they had done more movies together; they make a good ass-kicking pair.
For some reason this is the only Lundgren movie I have ever seen where he looks more pumped up than in anything else he’s done before or since and that’s including Rocky IV (1985). The last time I saw this movie was a few years ago on cable. I thought the same then and seeing it again in a more pristine condition last night I still think so.
Previously Warner had this out in DVD form as a solo disc in ’98 and then as a double feature with Bloodsport (1987) in 2006, but back on July 21st the Warner Archive Collection converted it to a much needed blu-ray.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subtitles only.
The only reason I have never added this to my collection is simply because those previous two releases were full frame, although I did manage to add it to my DVD-R collection when it aired widescreen on cable and until now that was the only place you could see this movie letterboxed. For all those DVD player owners who have yet to go blu this might give you a little more incentive to do so for the remaster done is better than anything that’s come before. Colors pop, it’s clear and most importantly widescreen for the first time.
- Theatrical Trailer
Take note, fans, this is the R-rated version. Until a few years ago I had no idea this movie had been edited in any way, shape or form. Apparently the “uncut” version is available overseas. Now normally I would put up somewhat of a stink about this for I do prefer my movies uncut, but the total time edited out, according to movie-censorship.com, is 19.48 seconds. I do, however, make exceptions when the cut footage is so minimal. The only way I would be bothered by this is if those 19.48 seconds were all in one place, like, for instance, a cut prologue or epilogue, but for those collectors cuts this minimal matters to you’ll probably want to stay away and try and score that German DVD mentioned on movie-censorship’s site, if you haven’t already gotten it.
Go to Dolph Lundgren’s Facebook page where he has more photos from the movie and a nice recollection of working on it.