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Showdown in Little Tokyo

Year: 1991
Production Co: Little Tokyo Productions
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Mark L Lester
Producer: Mark L Lester
Writer: Stephen Glantz
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Tia Carrere

On their own, both Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee churned out action films that were clichéd at best (until the unsurpassed The Crow), but something about putting them together gave this movie a zinging chemistry that really worked and helped carry off the standard action movie far beautifully.

They share a real humour and emotional gravity that - while still a little ham fisted - was a standout example of characterisation in the genre. Career B director Mark Lester didn't have much to work with, but Lundgren and Lee carry the whole thing in this martial arts smack em up.

Lundgren is an American cop raised in Japan who has the mind and discipline of a samurai while Lee is a Japanese-American cop and dyed in the wool valley boy. It was the kind of pairing that's been done everywhere from the Lethal Weapon to the Rush Hour films, but you can't help liking the pair as they become friends, Lee the comic to Lundgren's scowling, poised straight man.

The plot is disposable - when a particularly nasty yakuza band start flooding LA with a new kind of drug and visit wanton cruelty on everyone from the hookers who work for them to the enemies who get in their way, it's up to the pair to settle the score the traditional way.

Cool fights, attractive actors and actresses, a smattering of sex and nudity and (unless I was way too young and easy to please when I watched it) a story!

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