Bullet Points: Showdown
I was never the guy rushing to the video store back in the day looking for the latest Billy Blanks movie. But maybe I should have been…
I say this after a recent viewing of the 1993 Billy Blanks movie entitled Showdown. Well, one of the 1993 movies entitled Showdown and I’ll clarify that statement a little later on. But right now let’s get to the Bullet Points…
- Background: Billy Blanks plays a cop named Billy Grant. One night Billy and his partner Spinelli (Mike Genovese) go check out a noise complaint at a party, when they arrive there are two guys making trouble, Lee (Patrick Kilpatrick) and his brother. Billy confronts Lee, but Lee’s brother attacks Billy from behind. During the skirmish Lee’s brother hits his head on the floor and dies instantly. Lee is pissed. Billy is dejected, blaming himself for the death and quits the police force. Billy cuts all of his personal ties and goes into obscurity working as a janitor at the local high school.
- The Premise: Our story begins 7 years later as Ken Marx (Kenn Scott) and his mother move to the big city from a small town in Kansas. Ken is a senior in high school and is less than thrilled to have to change schools at this point in his academic career. Ken quickly makes a friend at his new school, Mike the class clown (John Mallory Asher) and an enemy Tom (Ken McLeod) after he is seen talking to Tom’s girlfriend Julie (Christine Taylor, who is Ben Stiller’s wife and who played Marcia in the Brady Bunch movies). Tom is the big man on campus, he treats Julie like she is his property. To keep his “street cred” Tom delivers a beating to Ken and warns him never to speak to Julie again.
- Forbidden Fruit: Wouldn’t you know Ken doesn’t stop talking to Julie. Ken is smitten with her, perhaps it is because she is forbidden fruit, perhaps it is because she is beautiful, perhaps it is because she is not her sister Jan. Anyway… Ken is chased down to the school gymnasium by Tom and one of his goon buddies. They are about to deliver another beating to Ken, when Billy the Janitor saves the day! Soon, Billy is training Ken in the art of self defense. And you know what training means in an action movie… MONTAGE! And Showdown delivers three montages before it is all said and done. Thanks Showdown!
- Remember Lee?: I have left out a major plot point… Tom is studying martial arts and his sensei is none other than Lee. The same Lee who blames Billy for the death of his brother. Lee is like Martin Kove’s character in Karate Kid but with the volume turned up even more. His mantra is “Success is control. Control is success.” He is also in cahoots with a woman named Kate (Linda Dona). Lee and Kate promote illegal fights among the high school students that train at Lee’s dojo. Kate uses her feminine wiles and money to keep the boys in line. She is a real puppet master.
- Double Main Event: As the movie goes on you just know as viewers we are in for not one, but two showdowns! You’ve got the battle between Ken and Lee with the love of Julie on the line. And an old grudge match to be settled between Billy and Lee. It is Student vs. Student. Teacher vs. Teacher. I’d have paid to see that show if it were in my hometown.
Showdown kept it simple and in turn that strategy kept this movie entertaining. To borrow a line from The Rock and a feature here on the site, Billy Blanks knows his role. He’s not the world’s greatest actor but he doesn’t over extend himself, trying to prove he is some classically trained thespian. Billy dances with what brung him. The film benefits greatly from Patrick Kilpatrick of Death Warrant and Remo Williams fame. Some guys were just born to play bad guys and Kilpatrick is one of those guys.
As a fan of the Weird Science TV show that used to air on the USA Network, I had a soft spot for the comic relief that John Mallory Asher’s character brings to the table. This added to my enjoyment of Showdown. And Christine Taylor was perfectly cast as the girl in high school that everyone had a crush on. Showdown makes two Billy Blanks movies I have reviewed for the site (the first being Balance of Power), and two Billy Blanks movies I enjoyed. So as I said at the top, maybe I should have been hunting down Billy’s latest movie when I went into Blockbuster.
According to IMDB research, there were actually two movies entitled Showdown that were released in 1993. There is the Billy Blanks movie that I’ve discussed here today. But there was also one written by and starring Leo Fong. Having tortured myself by watching Fong’s Low Blow, I can confidently say I watched the better 1993 Showdown. Of course IMDB uses the Billy Blanks cover for both versions, just adding to the confusion. Perhaps this is why the Blanks’ Showdown is also known as American Karate Tiger in some parts of the world. And it may or may not also be known as Full Contact.
Here’s some more of the low down on Showdown in the form of some bonus Bullet Points…
- Go Ninja Go Ninja Go!: Kenn Scott, who plays Ken Marx in Showdown also played Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. I would like to point out that Kenn was perfectly cast in Showdown. He’s got the whole “boy next door” thing going for him so you want him to succeed with the lovely Julie and he is also credible in the fight scenes.
- Stone Cold Advice: “Open a can of whoop ass on the guy!” – Mike
- Nice Vest: It had to be the 90’s if Tom was wearing a vest like that.
- Familiar Faces: Character actor Brion James brings a little more comic relief to the film as he plays Vice Principal Kowalski. It is a small role but he makes the most of his screen time. And Bulletproof Action favorite, James Lew appears as one of the hit men hired to take out Billy Grant.