American Ninja
Star: Michael Dudikoff
Year: 1985
Director: Sam Firstenberg

The 80s were a special time. It was a time for the one-man armies, and it was time for the ninja. And not just any ninja, THEE American Ninja!

Our epic tale starts off with the hero, the man with a plan [a ninja plan], Joe, in an army convoy. Everyone is driving a supply truck filled with all sorts of Army related goods. Leading the convoy is a private named Charlie, the Sergeant and the Colonel’s daughter, Patricia. At one point they’re stopped by a road crew, which is a MAJOR no-no in the action movie world. That’s why whenever I see a road crew, I floor it, and try to hit as many of them as possible. I’m not a sucker! They won’t be hijacking me.

So, the road crew turns out to be hijackers, and proceed to steal the trucks. One of ’em starts to get physical with Patricia, and Joe ain’t digging that. So, he whoops some ass, prompting others to man-up against the hijackers. However, this doesn’t sit well with the man overseeing the whole situation in the bushes, The Black Star Ninja. Patricia tries to escape in the car, but the back tire is shot out, and she crashes the car because she doesn’t have a penis. So, Black Star sends some ninjas in, and they make short work of the soldiers, except for Joe. He throws down the gauntlet by catching an arrow mid-air and breaking it defiantly. The other worse thing you can do is sneak into a ninjas house and take the batteries out of the remotes.

So, Joe and Patricia run into the jungle, narrowly avoiding the ninjas. Back on the base, Joe’s in deep shit because people believe he tried to be a hero to impress a girl, resulting in 4 dead bodies. Look, if all he got was a handy, then yeah, 4 bodies wouldn’t be worth it. But if he got a rockin’ beej out of it? Then hell, stack a few more bodies on the count!

Ortega, the crime lord here in this section of the Philippines, is distressed to hear of an American Ninja, and asks that the BSN take care of this for him. Back at the Army base, Joe meets an absolute super-bad ass, Curtis Jackson. They get in a bit of a scuffle, and because Jackson is a man, he makes friends with Joe and admits when he’s had his ass handed to him. A little later, Patricia sees Joe emptying some trash-cans, and she gets all sorts of hot and bothered. See, when you’re a bad ass, you can turn a girl on by doing just about anything. I hit up a club, and fuck dancing; I just start doing a jigsaw puzzle. Bitches explode!

Joe leaves the base in order to see her and ends up being seen by the Sergeant, who’s in cahoots with Ortega, which I knew right from the get-go because the guy has a mustache. So, in order to deal with Joe, the Sergeant has him take a truck to a warehouse. And the people there will sign for it alright, sign for it in blood! The warehouse is full of ninjas, and Joe goes to work with the quickness, meanwhile his truck is being stolen. So, after dispatching the ninjas, Joe chases down the truck and hides underneath in order to infiltrate the bad guys’ headquarters, which, I must say are some swanky digs. I mean, what other palatial estate has a ninja training camp? There’s a scene where Ortega invites some business associates to his place, and shows him this ninja training camp where ninjas in all sorts of colored outfits are practicing ninjitsu, jumping off trampolines, climbing ropes, dodging punching bags with spikes in ’em, and these guys are just digging it. They aren’t questioning as to what the hell a ninja is, and why Ortega has about 100 of ’em on call. I’d at least be raising my hand once or twice, especially on the matter of me getting a ninja suit for myself.

Anyway, Joe makes light work of the guards and escapes once he’s got all the intel he needs. Once back on the base, he’s arrested and put in the prison for charges of selling military equipment. The Sergeant had him put there so the BSN could take care of things. Later that evening, as Joe is probably about to jack-off, the power goes out. Now, because Joe’s a real man, he senses there’s danger afoot, because things are quiet…..too quiet. The BSN hits up the prison with a pair of bad-ass kamas and kills his way a path to Joe’s cell. Of course, Joe does the ol’ pillow-under-the-sheet trick to fool BSN and buy himself a second to escape. What promptly follows is a pretty sweet fight around parts of the base. A couple of MP’s break it up, and both Joe and the BSN escape into the night.

Joe gets a hold of Jackson, who gets hold of Patricia, and they both convince him to tell the Colonel what’s going on. Joe is obviously torn, because on one hand the idea is Jackson’s, and he’s a buff bad-ass, so obviously his brilliance is without question. However, on the other hand, the idea is also Patricia’s, and she’s a woman, sooo…but she was in Weird Science AND Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter, so we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

They head to the Colonel’s house and tell him what’s going on, only for him to try and arrest Joe. He promptly escapes and heads back to Ortega’s base to settle things. Of course, it turns out the Colonel was also in on all of this, proving that you should never listen to a woman.

Once he’s back at Ortega, he’s stopped by the gardener. No, seriously. Apparently, the gardener, who Ortega said he found in the jungle, and that this guy still thought the war was going on, taught Joe all this ninja business when he was younger. Apparently he just found Joe when he was a baby, and they grew up together. So, this crazy Asian dude who still thinks there’s a war going on feels the need to raise a child in the jungle and makes sure to train him in the way of ninjitsu. They were separated when a crew was blasting out in the jungle to make way for roads, and that’s how he got amnesia. It’s never explained how on Earth they ended up together again as Joe got older, but who cares? He’s a fucking ninja, that’s all the explanation I’ll ever need. He tells Joe that the BSN is a no-goodnik, and needs to be taken care of.

Back at Ortega’s vacation hide-away, a big business deal is about to go down until Joe shows up and cock blocks the whole deal. Jackson & the Army show up too. What follows is a ton of gun fire, along with some bad-ass ninjaness. I mean, we get shuriken, flame thrower, laser beams, hand claws, sais and kamas, and finally a good ol’ fashion show down with ninja tao [swords]. It’s some awesome shit.

Man Movie Tally:
1-Liners: None
People Beat-Up: 27
People Killed: 109
Swear Words: 10
Boobies: 0
Explosions: 16
Slow Motion Scenes: 6
Vehicle Chases: 3
Foot Chases: 5
Broken Bones: 1
Guy Get Girl: Yes
Guy Smokes: No
Fight/ Shoot-Out At Motel: No

If you catch the trailer, it says the film is called American Warrior. Obviously before its release, they changed it to Ninja. However, in Germany it’s known as American Fighter. Personally, I think that’s American Lame.

Apparently Dudikoff and Steve James had some tension on the set due to James having martial arts training, and Dudikoff knowing squat. Apparently Mike didn’t want to be upstaged. Martial arts or no martial arts, you’re gonna be upstaged by Curtis Jackson.

The director, Sam Firstenberg has said the two films of his that are his favorite are Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, and American Ninja. I sort of want to slap Sam for saying he prefers Breakin’ over Revenge of the Ninja.

Apparently, Canon wanted themselves a James Dean-type lead character, resulting in Firstenberg having to see more than 2,000 actors.

Box-Office Info:
Released on August 30, 1985 by the Kings of the b-action movies, Cannon Films. American Ninja cost around $1 million dollars to create and brought in a domestic gross of $10.5 mill. In its opening weekend, American Ninja brought in $3,234,837, from 627 theaters, putting it at a cool #4.
C’mon, Bennet, Let’s Party!:
This movie started it all for me. My obsession with ninjas as a kid, and my obsession with action films as an adult. I absolutely loved this film when I was younger, and actually dug the sequel, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation even more. Now that I’m older, there’s definitely some hokeyness to the film, but it’s still pretty bad-ass and a lot of fun. There’s a ton of ninjas, gun fire and explosions, and lots of ninjas. Not to mention you don’t just have ONE ninja master in this film, you’ve got THREE. The fuck more could you ask for? Nothing.
4 Head-Butts Out Of 5

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