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American Ninja

AKA:
 
 
US soldier Joe Armstrong, is stationed at an army base in the Philippines.

Joe and his fellow GIís are ambushed by Ninjas while trucking arms through the jungle. Joe himself is a master of ninjitsu and uses his skills to save the Colonelís daughter.

The ambush was orchestrated by wealthy arms dealer, Ortega and his henchman, the Black Star Ninja. Now the hunt is on for Joe, the American Ninja. Who, with the aid of army buddy, Jackson, has to go up against Ortega and the Black Star Ninja. In a fight to the death (Could it be any other way?!).

Yep, another 80ís cheese fest from the guys at Cannon Films.

Ninja films go as far back as the 60ís in Japan. With the SHINOBO NO MONO series. And later movies like SHOGUNíS NINJA and NINJA WARS, starring fan favourites, Sonny Chiba and Hiroyuki Sanada. Hong Kong also jumped on the bandwagon, with a slew of awful cut ní paste ninja flicks from IFD Films. And there were 0some decent efforts, like FIVE ELEMENT NINJA from Shaw Bros. And NINJA IN THE DRAGONíS DEN from Seasonal Films.

However good or bad these films were, respectively, you could always count on the action and fight choreography to be great. Too bad you canít say the same about this film, or any of the American made ninja films, for that matter. The ninja boom of the 80ís spawned more bad movies than anyone cares to remember really. Chuck Norris did his bit in THE OCTAGON. And Sho Kosugi made a name for himself in a string of ninja B-flicks like REVENGE OF THE NINJA and RAGE OF HONOR. At this time, notorious exploitation factory, Cannon Films, also wanted their piece of the ninja pie. And cranked out movies like ENTER THE NINJA, NINJA III-THE DOMINATION and subsequently the AMERICAN NINJA series. This being the first, and best, of that run of films.

Now in all fairness, it is not a great movie. At least not by conventional standards. But again, its overall cheesiness, goes a long way. Michael Dudikoffís acting is more wooden than George Washingtonís teeth. And his screen fighting skills, leave much to be desired. Well, all of the fight choreography is pretty sub standard and nowhere near what they were doing in Hong Kong or Japan at this time -or even before. But this was the American style, and thankfully it slowly evolved away from the sluggish tempo and John Wayne telegraph punches, with time.

But as with so many Cannon films, itís the cheesy, exploitive vibe, the funny cardboard characters, the over the top set upís and the bad dialogue, that makes these movies so much fun to watch. Especially today.

So, in closing, if you wanna see hordes of hapless men in balaclavas and split toe sandals, being sliced and diced, by Dudikoff -the poor mans Van Damme, B-movie regular, Steve James, stripped to the waist and camo headband, flexing his pecks and blasting his M60 and ninjas shooting lasers and rockets from their wrist, then this movie is for you.

Forget the sequels and check this out.

Verdict?

These old Cannon action flicks are just empty calories and its fun while it lasts. If you start to take them seriously, your doing it wrong.

But who takes Ninja movies seriously anyway? Just enjoy the cheese and laugh at the dialogue and hammy acting. This is an obvious "drinking game" movie. Have a slug every time you see a ninja ...And good luck in rehab!

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Lots of 80's machismo. Funny dialogue. Judie Aronson's cuteness. Nice Philipine locations and well... Ninjas.

Weaknesses? Weak action choreography. That military trumpet theme gets annoying after a while.

Our rating: 6 out of 10


Review Written by JAYLEE:  Contact  |  More Reviews by JAYLEE
American Ninja