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  • American Ninja
    • American Ninja
    • Runtime:95 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-23 12:03:16
    • Director: Sam Firstenberg
    • Genres: Action, Adventure, Romance, Sport
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:American Ninja


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Now this is what we're talking about! Much imitated but never
duplicated. A true classic of the action genre.

Pvt. Joe Armstrong (Dudikoff) is a troubled loner sent to an American
army base in the Philippines. He doesn't say much, and he really
doesn't want to play hackysack with his fellow officers. On a routine
truck convoy, baddies kill some of Armstrong's fellow officers, and
Armstrong escapes with Col. Hickock's spoiled daughter Patricia
(Aronson). While Patricia falls for Joe, the remaining officers on the
base blame him for the tragedy. At first, they disparagingly call him
"karate boy", but he eventually wins their respect and the friendship
of Cpl. Curtis Jackson (James) due to his excellent fighting skills. He
has been training since he was a boy, but has amnesia and doesn't
remember a lot of his past.

As it turns out, an evil gun runner, Ortega (Don Stewart) is in cahoots
with some of the army brass (including the Fred "time to make the
donuts" guy lookalike John LaMotta as Sgt. Rinaldo), and there is only
one obstacle to his newest million-dollar deal: Armstrong! Fortunately
for Ortega, he has a large Ninja training camp on his vast estate. So
he sends his army of Ninjas after Armstrong, Jackson and Patricia. When
Patricia is kidnapped, Joe goes into full ninja mode and it becomes
ninja vs. ninja in a fight to the finish. Will they be victorious over
the nefarious ninja army? It's no wonder Cannon and director
Firstenberg put Dudikoff and James back together shortly after this in
Avenging Force. (1986) They work very well together, especially here,
with the gregarious, charismatic Jackson and the mysterious,
belligerent Joe. The climax puts the Rambo-like machine-gun shooting of
James with the smooth Ninja-ing of Dudikoff with his never-ending
supply of clever moves. It makes for an excellent combination that
can't be beat.

That's what's great about American Ninja – it's high-quality action fun
that seems to put pleasing the audience as its number one priority. Why
can't more movies, especially today, do this one simple thing? Please
the crowd! What's so wrong with that? Well, we're proud to announce
American Ninja simply does just that. It's not uncommon when you watch
it with people to hear yells of "Yeah! Awesome!" and the like. You've
heard the title "American Ninja" so many times, for such a long time,
you probably don't realize how good it is. You just have to watch it to
see why it's withstood the test of time so well.

Comeuppance Reviews fan-favorite Richard Norton appears in a short,
small role – but in the credits he is only recognized for stunts. But
if you watch carefully, you can spot him as a soldier in the film.

For Fun with a capital F – go with this great classic that is deserving
of its fame and status.

For more insanity, please visit: comeuppancereviews.com


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

American Ninja is a tired martial arts potboiler from the Golan-Globus
production team (a pair of Israeli profiteers who unleashed various
terrible movies on the world during the 1980s). This one tries to make
an action hero of the handsome but thoroughly talentless Michael
Dudikoff who, prior to this film, was best remembered for playing a
dumb-ass named Ryko in the comedy Bachelor Party. Virtually nothing
about American Ninja works, from its appalling score to the utterly
routine action sequences. The performances are generally terrible,
there's nothing original or interesting in the story department, and
even the requisite martial arts moves are far from dazzling. In fact,
the only thing that saves this film from the dreaded 1-out-of-10 rating
is Steve James's amusing turn as the hero's sidekick. It's not an
example of great screen acting by a long shot, but James does manage to
embrace the absurd tone of the film with his tongue-in-cheek

At an American army base in the Far East there have been a number of
ambushes resulting in the loss of military hardware. During a
transportation of equipment, more American soldiers are attacked by a
number of deadly assassins wearing ninja costumes. The ninjas try to
kidnap the Colonel's daughter Patricia (Judie Aronson), who is tagging
along, but an American private called Joe Armstrong (Michael Dudikoff)
steps in to save her. Joe is a loner and none of the other soldiers
know much about him – in fact, he doesn't know much about himself, as
he has suffered from amnesia since he was quite young. He does know
that he possesses incredible martial arts skills, and occasionally has
flashbacks during which he recalls being trained as a boy by a
mysterious Japanese mentor. Joe discovers that the army supplies are
being stolen by a corrupt businessman, Victor Ortega (Don Stewart), who
includes arms dealing among his list of misdemeanours. Ortega has a
private army of ninjas guarding his lair and Joe has to take them on in
order to put a stop to the bad guy's nefarious plans.

The movie had a relatively cheap budget of $1,000,000 and grossed about
ten times that amount. It is hardly surprising that Messrs. Golan and
Globus were able to carry on churning out this kind of rubbish if 80s
audiences were content to keep lining their pockets in such a manner.
Everything about American Ninja shows signs of shoddiness. Dudikoff
seems to have difficulty delivering the most straightforward of lines,
and his expression barely changes during the course of the movie. The
action scenes are simply ludicrous, with staggeringly inept bad guys –
on this evidence even Dolly Parton could whoop their asses in a fight.
The film even attempts to incorporate a few plot twists in the latter
stages – with certain "good" characters turning out to be allied with
the bad guys – but these twists are both heavy-handed and unsurprising.
On the whole, American Ninja is thoroughly low-grade trash with nothing
to recommend it.


Joe Armstrong is drifter forced into the military finds himself
stationed in the Philippines. After his convoy is attacked by ninjas
(that's right ninjas in the Philippines) Joe finds himself hunted by
this mysterious group of ninjas, and the United States Army seeking his
court marshal. Can Joe survive and prove he is an American Ninja?

American Ninja should be listed on very VH1 I love the 80's special.
Every once of this movie screams 1985. From the big hair to 1980's TV
show special effects (American Ninja must have hired the special
effects guy from A-Team) to ever present crotch rocket. American Ninja
is at one with the 80's.

The major problem with American Ninja is that it's a child of the 80's.
American Ninja doesn't transcend to new generations. It's stuck in
1985. The sets, the script and the characters are just believable to
today's viewers.

That being said Micheal Dudikoff did a good job as Joe Armstrong. His
acting was believable for a 1980's film. His acting had a few wholes in
it, but mostly good. The character I love to watch the most was Cpl
Jackson, the black Rambo of the 1980's. Really I know that last
sentence wasn't pc but it was the truth. For some reason in the 80's
Hollywood felt the only way to connect with the African American
community was to copy other characters and replace them with an African
American actors. I guess Hollywood forgot about amazing African
American actors such as Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby from the 60's and
70's. I feel characters like Jackson where huge stumbling blocks for
African American actors.

All in all, American Ninja was great in 1985 but didn't transcend to
today's audience.

Sunday, May 23, 2010…written by John Richards for

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