Plot: A military convoy is ambushed by a force of rebels, which is nothing out of the ordinary, but this time the convoy has some precious cargo. Patricia (Judie Aronson), the daughter of a commanding officer, is in one of the trucks, so there’s more at stake than just some supplies. When the rebels start to harass Patricia, a soldier new to the outfit named Joe (Michael Dudikoff) has had enough and pushes back against the rebels. This leads to a melee that finds the soldiers overtaking the rebels, but of course, things can’t be that simple. A band of ninjas lurks in the woods and upon seeing Joe’s amazing martial arts skills, they swarm on the soldiers. Joe manages to get Patricia to safety, but he is blamed when several soldiers are killed in the battle. Who is this mysterious Joe and how does he have such wicked ninja skills, right?
Entertainment Value: American Ninja was developed with Chuck Norris in mind, but since Chuck didn’t want to dress like a ninja, the role went to Michael Dudikoff, who helped make it a popular franchise. Dudikoff’s performance is basically looking tough and killing nearly everyone he comes into contact with. American Ninja just bleeds 80s action vibes, as Dudikoff is like a one man wrecking crew that has psychic awareness, catlike reflexes, and some damn good tumbling skills. Imagine an action video game on easy, that’s how Dudikoff schools the hordes of enemies here. The logic of the action is of course not great, with myriad bullets missing Dudikoff and what not, but that just adds to the entertainment. The movie might not have the budget for huge set pieces, but the action is solid and if nothing else, is a lot of fun to take in. Dudikoff is more than capable and American Ninja rarely slows down the action, so this is one any B action movie or 80s cinema fan should check out.
No naked girls, but plenty of sweaty, shirtless men to go around. American Ninja has a body count of over one hundred, but most of the kills are bloodless. A few yield squib shots or the odd throat slash, but there’s not much red stuff. There’s plenty of action though and a wide scope of weapons on showcase. You’ll see guns of all sizes and shapes, throwing stars, katanas, pyromancy, ninja smoke vanishes, iron claws, a wrist mounted laser, a nutsac squeeze, a sweet motorcycle jump, a giant ladder next to a prison fence, hell Dudikoff even makes a tire iron seem like a viable ranged attack. So plenty of action and that includes some of the best somersaults and monkey flips ever captured on film. Not as many one liners as you’d expect, but a few memorable ones. The best for me was when a guy called a random ninja “numbnuts” while he was gripping his balls. The action is over the top, but the movie lacked the budget to truly go over the edge, so it stays mostly within the normal range of outlandishness for an 80s action movie.
Overall Insanity: 3/10