Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Olive Films - AMERICAN NINJA 1 & 2 on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Olive Films - AMERICAN NINJA 1 & 2 on Blu-ray

AMERICAN NINJA (1985; Sam Firstenberg)
Michael Dudikoff is a name that is mentioned with a great deal of affection and reverence by action genre fans of a certain age these days. He represents another heroic badass that can stand rightly in the same line with the likes of Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. Though his notoriety is not quite on the same level as those three, he is still a talented physical actor and martial artist who helped bring  a lot of memorable action films to the VHS obsessed youth of the world in the 1980s. After you worked your way through the Chuck Norris and Van Damme films in the action section of your local video store - it was on to the Cannon Films movies and Dudikoff for more entertainment. He was a more stoic hero than the others and his voice was not that of a tough guy. He felt more lie a regular shy dude than most of his contemporaries, but he certainly had a solid amount of output. Cannon Films was no stranger to spotting and cashing in on trends, so they made several ninja related films before Dudikoff entered the picture. In fact, director Sam Firstenberg (who helmed both AMERICAN NINJA 1 & 2) has directed both REVENGE OF THE NINJA and NINJA III: THE DOMINATION before this. He also did the unforgettable BREAKIN 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO for Cannon (another trend spotting businesses venture). Firstenberg and Dudikoff would work a lot together after the first AMERICAN NINJA film as well. 
In the first film, Dudikoff is established as a mysterious and troubled man who has little memory of who he is and where he came from, but has been trained in the arts of ninjutsu - the art of assassination. It's kind of one of those scenarios where a guy has great power and skill, but prefers not to use them unless he gets backed into a corner (and Cannon films have a lot of "backed into a corner" scenarios). AMERICAN NINJA also has a fun "ninjas training" scene with an elaborate obstacle course. It also establishes the duo of Dudikoff and the great Steve James. James is one of those charismatic and physical actors that really stands out. He's like a combination of Carl Weathers and Fred Williamson, but with more of a martial arts and stunts background. A real hard working dude who plays a perfect partner to the hero. AMERICAN NINJA also has the extra added bonus of having the lovely Judie Aronson (WEIRD SCIENCE, FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER) as the daughter of a military colonel and the film's love interest. 
AMERICAN NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION plays like a "further adventures of" with Dudikoff and Steve James being sent to a tropical island in the Caribbean to help an group of marines stationed there. The mystery at the core of this one is that several marines have gone missing with not trace, no ransom demands and some witness to the abductions noticing large guys in black suits (ninjas, duh). So Dudikoff and James rock their solid buddy chemistry from the get-go as they go up against many many ninjas. Similar to the first movie, but more islands, water, boats and beaches. An enjoyable follow-up that's got enough action and clumsy plotting to satisfy fans. The fact that you get to the Dudikoff/James team-up right away is to this movie's benefit.

Special Features:
Both of these discs have some good supplements:


Audio Commentary with director Sam Firstenberg
• “A Rumble in The Jungle” - The Making of American Ninja: Featuring interviews with director Sam Firstenberg, actors Michael Dudikoff and Judie Aronson, Associate Producer Avi Kleinberger, Screenwiter Paul De Mielche and Stunt Co-ordinator Steve Lambert
• Theatrical Trailer


Audio Commentary with director Sam Firstenberg
• “An American Ninja in Cape Town” - The Making of American Ninja 2: Featuring interviews with director Sam Firstenberg, actors Michael Dudikoff and Gary Conway, Executive Producer Avi Kleinberger and Stunt Co-ordinator BJ Davis
• Theatrical Trailer

AMERICAN NINJA 1 and 2 can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

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