The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A buddy of mine recently had me and a few friends watch The Dark Crystal with him. He said it was an important film in his life because it's what started his interest in fantasy films. I'm not sure what vulture puppets called Skankies have to do with that, but I took his word for it. Then I thought about what films were seminal in my love of movies. I guess Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon would be the ones that got me interested in Bogey films; or La Strada and Yojimbo got me interested in Fellini and Kurosawa films respectively. But that's not what the Direct to Video Connoisseur is about, it's about bad movies, and when I think of the film that got me interested in baddies, especially bad action, I think of Showdown in Little Tokyo.

I had a friend growing up whose parents stole cable, and we saw this on Pay-Per-View; for free obviously. I was twelve at the time, and though I'd seen many other bad action films before this, Showdown was the one that made me love them, and I haven't looked back since. Now I'm not saying that without Showdown I wouldn't have eventually found something else to pique my interest in this kind of schlock fare, I'm just saying that this one was lucky enough to be the one.


Showdown in Little Tokyo is a buddy action film with DTVC Hall of Famer Dolph Lundgren as a police detective of Caucasian-American decent that's also a samurai. He's a loner, and can't keep partners. Enter Brandon Lee (before he died), an Amerasian who could care less about his Japanese half. Dolph teaches him to be more Japanese, Brandon admires his penis, and the two protect Tia Carrere while beating down Cary Tagawa and his Yakuza bad dudes. Way better than the Lethal Weapons or Rush Hours.

I don't know where to begin. One of the best scenes is in the beginning, where a bad guy is in police custody, and instead of talking to the police, he breaks his own neck. In school, my friends and I used to mimic this when a teacher was especially boring. I know necks break very easily in action movies, but this one takes it a step further.


In another scene, Dolph does Carrere in his rice paper hut, and Tagawa's men surprise them. A scantily clad Dolph tries to fight them off, and Brandon Lee remarks, after looking at his crotch: "[y]ou have the biggest dick I've ever seen on a man". This is the kind of line in a Van Damme film that a woman would say, and Van Damme would seem proud of himself. With Dolph, though, we know it's supposed to add to the tongue-in-cheekness, which makes it even better.

That's not Brando's only great scene. At the end, he throws a guy in a vat of something, and holding a lit Zippo, says "you have the right to be dead" then tosses the Zippo in, making a huge explosion. This is, to my mind, Brandon Lee's finest performance, and it's too bad this film doesn't get more run.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tagawa and the Yakuza are great too. They constantly cut off people's and their own limbs. Fingers, arms, heads. Like in Bridge of Dragons, Tagawa is a sexually frustrated crime boss, and has his hottie Asian woman stolen from him by Dolph. This time the hottie is Tia Carrere. Despite posing nude in Playboy, in this film, her nude scenes were done by a body double. Not a big deal, but just something to keep in mind as you're watching this.

The ending is spectacular. Dolph dons a samurai outfit with a complete straight face. He and Tagawa take swords from a parade, which means the figures in the parade were walking around with real samurai swords. Dolph gets sliced up, yet survives it all, just so he can pin Tagawa to this large wheel with fireworks surrounding it. The wheel spins, and Tagawa explodes.


This is bad action at its best. Tons of killing, tons of martial arts, tons of car chases, a bad guy who kills people who work for him and people he makes criminal deals with, hot chicks, and, of course, Dolph Lundgren. There may be better action movies, but there isn't one that's more fun.

I bought this on DVD recently for $5. There really is no reason why you shouldn't do the same. If you watch it on TV, make sure it's on a channel that isn't censored or edited to fit a time slot. Don't watch this on Spike or USA or what not. You're really better off just buying it anyway, so that way you can see it on Spike or USA, and you'll know what you're missing. Believe me, at $5, it's so worth it, and I'd pay even more if I didn't know I could get it for that cheap.

For more info:


  1. I saw this movie in theaters when it was first released. I need to re-watch it like right now! It seems like I would laugh my ass of at it now.

    Cant believe Lungdren wears a samurai suit in the movie! "with a straight face!". You know, Lungdren often time says that his worst movie is Masters of the Universe, I respectfully disagree, it sounds to me like its this one!

    But screw it, this movie is a fun watch any day of the week.

  2. Wow, Dolph's worst movie. A bunch of images pass into my head of all the films I've seen of his. A woman doing a rain dance resulting in the desired precipitation in Last Warrior. A stealth mine that has shiny LED lights in Sweepers. The spiked glove in The Minion seeking the "primitive part" of someone's brain (also of note, Dolph plays a KGB trained priest in that one). The word "Chili" among a list of countries in Peacekeeper.

    What's great about Dolph is, when you peel back the layers, it just gets better.