Monday, August 3, 2009


Let me just say that I was a kid who sat in front of the TV in the 80's.

Plenty of classic titles to drop, which I won't really do here, except I can say that while I built and destroyed Lego creations, spilling out of this old paint can in my room (which I still have somewhere), it was a surefire bet that I'd stop dead in my tracks to "absorb" whatever there was that had to do with Transformers, Voltron, G.I. Joe, Robotech, Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater, A-Team, Knight Rider, Airwolf...and Ninjas.

Ninjas...ha ha...funny joke still? Hardly. But ninjas will always remain "gravy" in my book. A staple alternative to The Shaw Brothers'/Golden Harvest's "kung fu flick" superhuman fighter character...not to mention, less operatic than the Wuxia style and far less tragically poetic than their Samurai counterparts. Ninjas were the "quick nut" for moviemakers who wanted relentlessly fast, (usually) sword-fronted action, typically outlined by an exaggerated, non-sensical story, and an easy road to stunt-double utilization.

Sub-genre breakdown aside, this post is about the gem that is American Ninja, starring Michael Dudikoff as the military man and undercover ninja hero by the (really original...ahem) name of Joe Armstrong. Long story short, fuck the plot...I taped this treat off of WPIX (Channel 11 for you NYC/Manhattan types...before it became "the WB") one Friday night in the late '80's (or maybe it was the Saturday afternoon presentation). I was devoted to the point of piety...consistently repeating the sequence of pressing the Rewind button, until the VCR sounded off clicks and purred with the flexing of springs and mechanical plastic what-nots, then rolling my finger over the Play button with as much excitement and anticipation as the first time. This was the routine every Friday and/or Saturday night...often as the main event to a friendly sleepover.

Original Trailer:

(Crazy shit, American Warrior? Really? Wow.)

American Ninja 2:

(the last of the on-screen Dudikoff in this series...things went downhill QUICKLY after this point)

American Ninja 3 (just so you get the drift):

(the only redeeming part of this crudfest was Steve James getting it in, once again, with his double machete/sword business...and even that was old news to a young Geng)

Anyone remember Avenging Force? Mike Dudikoff being "hunted" in some swampy forest scenario. The Cannon Films trailer doesn't showcase enough of that part though...the old WPIX commercials made it seem like the whole flick was the basis to Rockstar Games' Manhunt ('cept, in a forest'y swamp).

For the bizarre (see what I mean by Manhunt?)

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