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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Music > Dancing > Media > Action > Crime > Drama > Martial Arts > Gangster > Yakuza > Pitch Perfect 2 (2015/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Showdown In Little Tokyo (1991/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Showdown In Little Tokyo (1991/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

Picture: B- & C+/B- Sound: B & C+/C+ Extras: C+/C- Films: C+/C

PLEASE NOTE: The Showdown In Little Tokyo Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

When films try to find comedy in other genres and do it sloppily, it might be a hot or just become a cult item. These two films show both results...

Elizabeth Banks' Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) is the commercial success the Hugh Grant vehicle American Dreamz had hoped to be, spoofing talent shows, talent shows on TV, reality TV and backstage antics. A much bigger hit, it was one of the only R-rated comedies to make money as the cycle died after making much money. The cast including Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam Devine, Katie Sagal and even Banks herself make sense being cast and there is even a little chemistry here, but this is a one-to-two joke film and never has any outright laughs.

Its also never has the few dark moments Dreamz had, but that makes it more commercial and easier for an audience to take in, so it is part of Universal's comeback box-office year where they set all kind of personal and overall box office high-marks. The result is that you are either going to like it or you're not and the problem is that it is amusing when you watch, then quickly forgotten when it winds up. It almost quits while it was ahead.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track, Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes, Gag Reel, plus 6 Blu-ray-exclusive featurettes and BD Live interactive functions.

Politically incorrect as it was, Michael Cimino's underrated Year Of The Dragon (1985, reviewed elsewhere on this site) became a film that was ripped-off a few times, inspiring a few similar thrillers (Kaufmann's Rising Sun, Scott's Black Rain) and along with Carpenter's Big Trouble In Little China, even more comedies, like those lame Rush Hour films and Mark L. Lester's Showdown In Little Tokyo (1991). Dolph Lundgren (towards the end of his time in high profile major studio releases) plays a police detective who grew up with Japanese culture, so when the Yakuza comes to town, high kicks, karate chops and bullets fly. He also soon finds himself working with another detective, underplayed by Brandon Lee in one of his few feature films before his untimely death.

A bomb in its time, the film has a cult status, though those I talked about it to who liked it (including some gay-baiting moments (dialogue included) I doubt would be in any film today) could remember those wackier moments and the choreographed fighting is awful. Tia Carrere makes this more bearable, but is not in it enough, though we see plenty of her when she is there. Otherwise, the Japanese villains are borderline stereotypes (proto-racist?) and it 78 minutes, it still seems long with not enough of Lee. Whose made it a different kind of cult item than the one it already is.

The only extra is an Original Theatrical Trailer.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Pitch Blu-ray is far from perfect with a little more blur and visual flaws than we should be getting in a current HD shoot, but such comedies moved to HD first to cut costs and because they rightly felt most audiences would not tell the difference. However, when all your making is an oversized sitcom, what's the difference? The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is even softer and harder to watch, so guess they also expect you'll laugh the flaws away as all is allegedly so funny. Hmm.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Showdown can show the age of the materials used, so this is barely that superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film (the nudity benefits), but this looks like an older HD master. It does have some good full color shots, but not enough.

Both Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, with Pitch well mixed and presented enough to sound consistent with a good soundfield, but nothing special to write home about, so the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is not only weaker, but very weak. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Showdown is from an old Dolby A-type analog soundmaster with Pro Logic surrounds, but it can decode awkwardly, show its age, be a bit brittle at times and needs some work along with its image.

To order the Showdown In Little Tokyo Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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