Apr 082010

Man, is this movie a giant bowl of ridiculous. ¬†It might be the most over-the-top film I’ve ever seen. ¬†And that’s after seeing Fast and Furious‘ car wheelie bonanza last year. ¬†American Ninja is one of those flicks where you’re like, “Well that motorcycle jump was a little out of control but that’s got to be it right?” ¬†And then some dude shoots a laser out of his knuckles.

A laser

…out of his knuckles!

So what do I make of this flick? ¬†Honestly, as far a movie is concerned it’s a complete mess. ¬†The acting is atrocious, the stunts are pretty painfully choreographed, and the main character might as well be a plank of cedar. ¬†But somehow, I came away having some amount of fun with the flick. ¬†I can only imagine what a keg of beer and a stack of pizzas would do to enhance this viewing experience.

Taking place on a US Army base in the Philippines, the film begins by introducing us to our everyman, Joe. ¬†Played by Michael Dudikoff (which I hope is pronounced dude-ee-cough), Joe is immediately ostracized by his fellow servicemen as he’s a pretty keep to himself fellow. ¬†While leading a convoy of Army vehicles, Joe and his platoon are accosted by a gang of, you guessed it, ninjas. ¬†Joe ends up saving a high ranking officer’s daughter (Judie Aronson) and further alienating himself from the group of men he’s supposed to be working alongside. ¬†That could be the whole movie right there, but this of course starts a chain reaction of events that lead to the aforementioned laser scene. ¬†I’ll not spare any further details of the plot, just know that it serves it’s purpose as a loosely strung together excuse for several fight sequences.

I’m sure it sounds like I’m doggin’ this movie. ¬†To an extent I am but there’s something endearing about this flick that keeps me from just completely hating it and asking Adam to review it in his Crawl Space. ¬†Yes, it’s goofy as all get out but at the same time it’s a lot of fun. ¬†This is the kind of movie that can generate an endless amount of drinking games in a single sitting and be deadly about it. ¬†The very thought of drinking during this movie scares the shit out of me. ¬†In all seriousness, it’s the kind of movie that you put on in the background while you’re hanging with friends and have a blast with.

So let’s get to some of the pros and cons here. ¬†My favorite part of the movie was where Cpl. Jackson (the late Steve James) pushes Joe into a sparring match. ¬†The set up was completely stupid but the pay off was bad ass as Jackson and Joe found a common thread to base their friendship upon. ¬†Namely that Jackson was no match for Joe’s quick hands and had no choice but to give the man respect. ¬†Nowadays when characters start as assholes such as Jackson, they are stuck with it through the credits. ¬†So it was cool to see a guy cut that shit out.

I could be a wise-ass and say there were no cons but I’d be lying. ¬†From the fifteen minute mark, you’re thrust with about 15-20 minutes of nothing, then we get the excellent scene mentioned above which is then followed by… a date night for Joe and his new found piece of ass? ¬†Seriously? ¬†You just put a dating scene in a movie with the word ninja in the title? ¬†What I’m trying to say is there’s a lot of cleverly placed spots in this film where you’re supposed to be grabbing a refill or another piece of Golden Chick. ¬†So I guess it’s not really a negative as much as it is a great job of pacing by director Sam Firstenberg. ¬†Yeah, that’s it…

As questionable as this may seem, I still have to recommend this film to you if you’re any kind of martial arts film fan. ¬†Being a movie produced and released in the mid 80s, it actually has more of a 70s style to it. ¬†The version I watched was pretty impressive (Netflix Instant Queue) in that it looked and sounded fantastic. ¬†And you can bet your ass that every kick, punch, and chop came with those most awesomely exaggerated sound effects. ¬†If any of this interests you at all, definitely check it out. ¬†Especially for that laser shit.

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  • James

    Any movie that could get a childhood version of me and bunch of my neighborhood friends down to the flea market to buy some dull ass ninja stars to throw at trees is quality. Love this movie.

  • Zack_S

    dudikoff is an underappreciated national treasure.
    god bless troy for teaching me how to fold paper into shurikens