Friday, June 1, 2012

SUMMER OF 87 #1: American Ninja 2

 The cover of my VHS copy of American Ninja 2

10am, Day 1:
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Starring: Michael Dudikoff, Steve James, Larry Poindexter, Gary Conway, Jeff Celentano
Format: VHS (RCA Columbia)

Plot: On a remote Caribbean island, Army Rangers Joe Armstrong (Dudikoff) and Curtis Jackson (James) investigate the disappearance of several marines, which leads him to The Lion (Conway), a super-criminal who has kidnapped a local scientist and mass-produced an army of mutant Ninja warriors.

- Opening disclosure: I haven't seen this movie. I have seen the first American Ninja, but not in about 20 years. I remember enjoying it though.
- A bar brawl and our first shot of ninjas inside the first two minutes. Nice!
- "Move to the City" by Guns n Roses! Great soundtrack so far.
- Apparently this was filmed in South Africa. Interesting that Apartheid-era South Africa would double for a Carribean island.
- WTF? They just had some other guy standing in for Dudikoff in a scene of Armstrong walking out of an office, and they showed his face clearly. The guy doesn't even look anything like Dudikoff! Whoops!
- Classic moment as Joe and Curtis leap off a huge cliff and land in a boat like they had only jumped a few feet.
- One thing you can always count on from an 80s action flick: At least one of the thugs will have a great mullet.
- They've done a pretty good job hiding the fact this was filmed in South Africa... until that barmaid spoke in a heavy Afrikaaners accent.
- The main bad guy, The Lion, is played by Gary Conway, who starred in the late-60s TV series Land of the Giants.
- Great scene with a ninja being dragged behind a truck, then climbing onto it, ending in a nice big explosion.
- An ending with ninja fights _and_ gun fights. Making me double happy!

Overall thoughts: What can I say? American Ninja 2 was the perfect way to get this movie marathon started. It's just a fun ninja flick, with everything a discerning action fan could ask for.
The meat in the sandwich is of course the ninja fights, and there's plenty of them (the bodycount must be over 50, maybe closer to 100), but there's also plenty of humour, a simple-but-entertaining plot involving mad science, a little love interest, lots of interesting minor characters, and towards the end some explosions and gunfights are even thrown into the mix.
About the only thing I would add is that while watching American Ninja 2 I kept wondering if it would have been better with Steve James in the lead role. He's a better fighter and a better actor than Dudikoff. Not saying that Dudikoff is bad - he does a good enough job and has the all-American looks that sell a film like this - but James is the best thing about this movie. But regardless, American Ninja 2 rocks!

1 comment:

The Goodkind said...

You've got me wanting to re-watch it.