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Posts Tagged ‘ninjas’

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

“That damn American ninja. Fights like a tiger. We’ll have to get rid of him.”

tn_an2The opening credits of AMERICAN NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION feature a badass theme song (composer George S. Clinton, who had already done AVENGING FORCE for Cannon and Dudikoff, joins the series) as three dudes confidently cruise on their motorcycles, journeying through mountain roads. They’re wearing tinted helmets, so we wonder is this is Joe Armstrong, the American Ninja, and some other Army guys? Is it some scary villains he’s gonna have to face? Who is it?

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They turn out to be some weinery dudes who drive up to a bar and immediately get bullied. One of them, Tommy Taylor (Jonathan Pienaar, BLOOD DIAMOND), steps away and cowers nearby while his friends get beaten up, and then all the sudden a bunch of ninjas walk in and carry them away.

In this enjoyable sequel Joe (Michael Dudikoff) and Curtis Jackson (Steve James) are still best friends, and still in the Army, now as Rangers. They seem to receive more respect now, and maybe I’m naive but when they’re sent on the mission that the last guys (the guys at the bar) disappeared on it really seems to be because of faith in their abilities, not to get rid of them. (read the rest of this shit…)

American Ninja

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

tn_americanninjab“You know, loners don’t go too far in this outfit.”

AMERICAN NINJA is a Cannon Films classic starring model-turned-action-star Michael Dudikoff as army-rookie-with-a-mysterious-ninja-past Joe Armstrong. I already reviewed it several years ago and in my opinion it was a well-written review with some points and some jokes that I wouldn’t have thought of now. For example I said that the ninjas in the yellow costumes would be good at hiding in a banana tree or a field of dandelions. You gotta have that youthful eye of the tiger to come up with that one.

But today I am revisiting AMERICAN NINJA for an important new series in which we will compare each installment of Francois Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel series to each installment of Golan and Globus’s AMERICAN NINJA series. Why, does the AMERICAN NINJA series follow the same character as he ages? Well, not really, I don’t think so, but I can’t think of a better pairing of quintologies to represent the full spectrum of cinema art from the respected and high brow (“brilliantly and strikingly reveals the explosion of a fresh creative talent… a picture that encourages an exciting refreshment of faith in films” wrote Bosley Crowther in The New York Times) to the… other kind (“Woefully acted, abysmally written… an embarrassment even when held to the low standards of grade C exploitation movies” wrote Candice Russell in The Sun Sentinel). By alternating between them and comparing and contrasting how they approach each chapter I hope we’ll find the true meaning of art or whatever. (read the rest of this shit…)

Azumi

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

tn_azumiBTISLPoor Azumi (Aya Ueto) is one of the best young swordswomen you ever did see, but it’s because she’s lived such a fucked up life. In the opening scene we see how she ended up like she did. When she was a little girl the Master (Yoshio Harada, THE HUNTED) was leading some young boys on a trail and came across her kneeling over her dead mother. He took the orphan girl with them to their isolated mountain area where he raised them to be elite sword fighters on a covert mission from Lord Tokugawa’s priest.

I mean really he saved her life, and their whole clan of nine boys and her are like a family, brothers and sisters who have fun fighting and training and joking around with each other. And they love their master and trust in him enough to believe that this thing he’s been preparing them for their whole lives is a righteous thing. They are tasked with assassinating the ambitious warlords who want to take over the country, whose selfish actions would otherwise keep the country in civil war forever. They will take life to prevent endless war. (read the rest of this shit…)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

tn_tmnt14TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) is director Jonathan Liebesman (BATTLE LOS ANGELES, WRATH OF THE TITANS, TEXAS CHAINSAW BEGINNINGS: THE FINDING OF THE SAW) and the Platinum Dunes company’s modernized retelling of the classic tale of Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello, the humanoid turtle monsters who are discovered by a human reporter living in a giant underground sewer home and are trained in ninjitsu by a talking rat so they enjoy pizza but at night they sneak out to fight crime and there’s this Japanese guy with armour who wants to kill them because–

You know what, on second thought this is not a story, this is a half-assed explanation for a joke title some guys came up with in the ’80s that, through some bizarre series of mishaps and coincidences, accidentally became a multi-million dollar pop culture/merchandising juggernaut. Nobody knows why or ever will. It was even on Unsolved Mysteries.

Seriously, I saw part of a documentary on these turtles, and it explained how the hugely popular cartoon show was built around the toys they wanted to sell. The people who made the cartoon seemed totally surprised and confused that it was something that people liked so much. It’s funny to see them try to explain in retrospect that historic moment when a voice actor said “Cowabunga!” and they decided to use it. It seems like they figure it must’ve been brilliant, but I don’t think they get it any more than I do.

This new version is pretty much a simplified rehash of the previous movie version, from what I can remember. You still got TV reporter April O’Neil (like the porn star), now played by Megan Fox, and she discovers that “a vigilante” stopped an attempted chemical robbery by “The Foot Clan,” who are masked paramilitary guys now instead of ninjas, except for Shredder and a couple other people at the top. Here’s the thing though: she keeps trying to take pictures and video on her phone. That’s why they had to do a remake. THIS IS HOW WE LIVE TODAY. (read the rest of this shit…)

Samurai Fiction

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

tn_samuraifictionSAMURAI FICTION is a deeply enjoyable period samurai picture, made in 1998 but shot mostly in black and white, so it looks very classical. Not that it’s trying to pass. It occasionally uses more modern filmatics, like a seemingly endless shot pulling back down a road in front of three running samurai, or a slow motion shot of a girl smiling to represent the protagonist being smitten with her – you can imagine a love song playing over it sarcastically, maybe something in a Carpenters or a Barry White.

They don’t quite go that far, but the score is intentionally anachronistic, echoey electric guitar playing with surf, country and rock ‘n roll styles, later drum machines and synthesizers. I like the idea, and some of it works, some of it is cheesy as hell. The one great musical moment in my opinion is a scene where an old man plays a beautiful rendition of “Swanee River” on a saw. You don’t get that in many samurai movies.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

tn_ninjaiiNINJA II: SHADOW OF A TEAR is the kind of action movie I always want more of: a pretty simple story about a badass in a personal conflict, stubbornly entrenched in the distinct values of a warrior subculture, with some absurdity but no joking around, and designed to deliver a whole bunch of great fight scenes done by real martial artists with lots of long takes, the camera always carefully composed and steady, moving in ways that always emphasize action and never obscure it. In other words it’s the long-awaited new Isaac Florentine/Scott Adkins joint. (read the rest of this shit…)

Interview with Kane Kosugi by david j. moore

Monday, September 16th, 2013

tn_kanekosugiexclusiveThis week and next week, because we’ve been good, we get to learn about NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR, the upcoming Isaac Florentine/Scott Adkins joint which premieres September 20th in Austin. You remember david j. moore, who previously shared with us his interviews with Jesse V. Johnson and Ben Ramsey? He visited the set back when it was called NINJA II and did a some interviews that he’s been generous enough to let me run as OUTLAWVERN.COM EXCLUSIVES. (note to Vern look into adding dramatic sound effects as mouseover)

We begin with david’s interview with the legendary Kane Kosugi, who not only tells us about working with Florentine and Adkins, but also what it’s like to be a 6 year old doing fight scenes in Cannon movies.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Oh shit, NINJA 2 trailer!

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Okay, it’s not called NINJA 2, there is a different subtitle involved. But, let’s be honest, it’s called NINJA 2.

On one hand, I don’t really understand why Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine are (from what I understand) so ashamed of the more absurd Cannon-y elements of the first one (souped up ninja armor, oil company run by robe-wearing cultists, etc.), since that’s part of why the movie is so awesome. On the other hand I like sequels that take things in a different direction, so if this is as grim as it looks that’ll be cool too. At any rate it’s clear that it’s jam packed with fights and has at least one great badass line in it. And it’s been a while since UNDISPUTED III, it’ll be good to have the ol’ Florentine/Adkins team back. It’s also written by David White, who previously did SPECIAL FORCES and UNDISPUTED II-III.

NINJA: I’M GOING TO TRY TO BE NON-JUDGMENTAL ABOUT THEM SETTLING ON ‘SHADOW OF A TEAR’ will be playing Fantastic Fest this year with Florentine and producer Frank De Martini in attendance. (I thought Scott Adkins said on Twitter he was gonna be there too but if so that doesn’t seem to be official.) IMDb lists the release date as December 31st.

my review of the original NINJA

The Wolverine

Monday, July 29th, 2013

tn_thewolverineRemember Darren Aranofsky was gonna do this new Wolverine movie? He’d done THE WRESTLER and he was the original director on THE FIGHTER and then he named it THE WOLVERINE, but he had to drop out to deal with The Child Custody. From the roll he was on I bet he would’ve made a hell of a movie, but his replacement James Mangold (COPLAND, 3:10 TO YUMA) came up with something pretty interesting too. For his movie the title is representative of the whole approach: strip away the convoluted series-connecting business indicated in the title of the last one (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) and just focus everything on this character, this Wolverine. The Wolverine.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Ninja III: The Domination Blu-Ray review

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

 

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NINJA III is one of the only movies to really explore how much ninjas like yogurt

 

One of our nation’s perennial VHS favorites, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, has recently made the transition to digital and high definition disc type formats courtesy of the heroes at Shout Factory. Check out my review of the new blu-ray over on Daily Grindhouse. If you also want to read a review I wrote of the movie a couple years ago then you can click here.