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Showdown
IMDB Rating: 5.1/10 from 631 votes
Release: 17 September 1993 (USA) /

Showdown

Genre: Action, Drama
Director: Robert Radler,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Ken has just moved from Kansas with his mother. He talks to a girl named Julie, not knowing that her boyfriend Tom is very possessive of her. Tom is learning karate from Lee, a sensei whose brother was killed by a rookie cop named Billy. Billy has since then become the janitor of the school that Ken, Julie and Tom go to. When Ken gets beaten up by Tom for talking to Julie again, Billy helps Ken by teaching him how to defend himself, which eventually leads to a battle between student vs. student, and sensei vs. sensei. Written by <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews


You have to admire any movie that willingly acknowledges its source material right there in the dialogue. In the case of "Showdown," directed by Robert Radler and written by Stuart Gibbs, that source is "The Karate Kid" (1984). You also have to admire star Billy Blanks. The guy tries so hard and yet never really comes off as anything more than just Billy Blanks, that Karate/Kickboxing/Tae Kwon Do master who would later find fame as the founder of the popular exercise system Tae Bo.

The movie plays pretty much like a watered-down version of "The Karate Kid," except "Showdown" seems more and more like some lame after-school children's special though obviously it's aimed more at teenagers. In the beginning of the movie, Ken Marx (Kenn Scott) arrives on his first day of school after moving from Kansas with his mom. From the get-go as the new kid, Ken doesn't fit in with the other students, his only friend being Mike (John Mallory Asher), another local outcast who shows him the ins and outs of his new environment.

Right away, Ken makes the mistake of hitting on the pretty blonde Julie (Christine Taylor), instantly making mortal enemies out of her extremely possessive boyfriend Tom (Ken McLeod). Of course, Johnny... er... Tom, is a violent Karate black belt, instructed in a macho, unethical form of martial arts under the macho, insane Lee (Patrick Kilpatrick). Ken takes several brutal beatings from Tom, until one day he's saved by the school's janitor, Billy (Blanks). Billy decides he's going to teach Ken to defend himself, so that he can finally stand up to Tom and win over Julie.

"Showdown" plays out more than just a repeat of "The Karate Kid." Gibbs's script combines elements from several completely separate genres and places them in one movie, the two most noticeable being the cop movie and the bullied-teen movie. Yes, I said the cop movie. As it turns out, Billy's an ex-cop with a tragic past that eventually comes back to haunt him in the present. Using his old partner who's still on the force, the two work together to bring down a full-contact fighting circuit organized by Lee that pits teenagers against each other for money. In the meantime, Billy doesn't know that Ken has accepted a challenge to face Tom in this same arena.

"Showdown" also aims to poke fun at the high school movie genre, but doesn't quite succeed at this either. There are plenty of lame sight gags, the usual bullies, cliques and reversals, and even Brion James drops in as the stereotypical hard-nosed principal. But none of this really gets the attention you think it deserves, since the filmmakers went to some lengths to put this stuff there in the first place.

On the plus side, I guess the acting is good from this cast and the movie seems to have a heart and a good message, but it's weighed down by the fact it's been done before. Radler seemed to be onto something when he made the otherwise excellent "Best of the Best" in 1989, but "Showdown" proves to be another tedious entry into an overdone genre. It's best that you save "Showdown" for an afternoon where you have nothing to do, or just want a late-night feel-good martial arts flick where the good guys win, and the bad guys go to jail. Now, isn't that what we all want?

4/10

P.S.: Is also available in both "PG-13" and "R"-rated formats. This review was based on the "R"-rated version.

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