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The Overlooked Classic Known As ‘Showdown In Little Tokyo’

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In the ’80s, buddy cop movies were the rage with Lethal Weapon48 Hrs., and Tango & Cash. When it came to the early ’90s, there was a bit of a decline. Arguably, Showdown In Little Tokyo was one of the most completely overlooked films of that time.

A Pair Of Action’s Finest

Director Mark L. Lester delivered one of the biggest action movies ever with Commando. After working on Armed and Dangerous and Class of 1999, he decided to return with another action film. Showdown in Little Tokyo had backing by Warner Bros, which meant Lester was banking on another hit.

Warner Bros.

For the two leads, he decided on Brandon Lee and Dolph Lundgren. For Lee, this was his debut in a North American film. For Lundgren, this was another way to flex his action star muscles. “The script was pretty good and it was another martial arts-driven movie, so I thought why not, this film has a lot to offer,” Lundgren told Impact Magazine.

A Million Changes Later

Lester was pleased with what he had, but things took a sharp turn. Warner Bros. hated the final product, and they chose to re-edit it to have a proper flow. They didn’t just get one editor for the job; they managed to get two. Following Michael Eliot’s work, Stuart Baird was brought it to make additional edits. Lester’s original 90 minute film was shortened to 79 minutes.

Warner Bros.

“I had no control over it, and I was very unhappy with the final result,” Lester told Filmmaker Magazine. Some of the scenes removed include introductions to Kenner and Yosuto and a few dramatic scenes.

A Grand Showdown

In the end, Showdown in Little Tokyo is a fantastic film for martial arts buffs. Even if that style of fighting isn’t your cup of tea, the overall presentation will grab you.

Warner Bros.

While it didn’t do well in the box office, it managed to fly off store shelves. Unfortunately, this was due to the death of Lee while shooting The Crow. When it came to his co-star, Lundgren has nothing but great memories from the set. “He was really on top of the world. He had a new deal for another picture. That’s how I like to remember him,” he said.

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