Posts Tagged ‘Michael Dudikoff’

The 400 Death Blows

Saturday, September 10th, 2022

Back in 2016 I did a review series where I alternated between Francois Truffaut’s five Adventures of Antoine Doinel films and Cannon Films’ five AMERICAN NINJA films, trying to keep the same open mind toward both, look for parallels, etc. I referred to it as Antoine vs. Ninja at the time, but now I like to think of it as The 400 Death Blows. Although I’m way more of a ninja guy than a French New Wave guy I think it’s good to try out a broad spectrum of art and not be put off by some other dip shit’s perception of what is supposed to be high or lowbrow or too trashy or too arty for little old you. Fuck that guy. You’re not that simple. You can appreciate all kinds of things.

The premise of this review series alone is just such a good encapsulation of what I aspire to be as a film critic and viewer that I wanted to make this post linking to all of the reviews so I could share it easier. Enjoy!

1. THE 400 BLOWS (1959)






7. BED & BOARD (1970)


9. LOVE ON THE RUN (1979)

10. AMERICAN NINJA 5 (1993)

American Ninja 4: The Annihilation

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

tn_an4Long before the FAST AND FURIOUS series did it (better), the AMERICAN NINJA series pulled the power move of doing a part 3 with a new lead, only to combine the casts in a later sequel. AMERICAN NINJA 4: THE ANNIHILATION starts with part 3’s Sean Davidson (David Bradley) and later brings back part 1-2’s Joe Armstrong (Michael Dudikoff). The bad news is this is the first one not to include the character of Curtis Jackson (Steve James), so it almost feels like less of a real sequel than part 3.

The dilemma: American servicemen abducted overseas again. Ninja related again. This time it’s worse, because the crazy British Colonel Mulgrew (James Booth, writer of part 2 and AVENGING FORCE and this one) and terrorist Sheik Maksood (Ron Smezarack) plan to burn the four captured Delta Force commandos at the stake and nuke New York City with a suitcase bomb if they aren’t paid $50 million. (It seems like either threat would be enough though, right?) I know that sounds like a boring useless couple of loser villains with nothing to contribute, so fortunately they are also training an army of super ninjas, one of whom wears a silver helmet and mirror eye patch. So they check out. (read the rest of this shit…)

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 if 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?


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…)

Bloody Birthday

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

tn_bloodybirthdayslashersearch13Here’s a crazy movie. It’s pretty unique but it has many of the standard elements of a slasher movie. It takes place in the world of young people, with adults not really catching on to what’s happening. At the beginning a teen couple are making out in a cemetery and get murdered. At another point a couple we’ve never seen before are having sex in a parked van and get murdered. There is a Final Girl (and Final Little Brother) and like in HALLOWEEN she’s a buttoned up, responsible babysitter with a wilder best friend whose dad is the sheriff.

But there’s not some unseen slasher, or masked maniac, or supernatural force. There’s just three little ten year old kids who are total assholes and love to murder people. They are not quiet, creepy killers like VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, CHILDREN OF THE CORN or young Michael Myers. They’re seemingly normal kids. The only explanation given is that they were born on the same day, during an eclipse. The Final Girl Joyce (Lori Lethin from RETURN TO HORROR HIGH) studies astrology throughout the movie, so you assume it has something to do with that. They were just destined to go on a murder spree. And to rack up pretty impressive numbers.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Tron (plus Tron Legacy on the blu-ray)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

tn_tronBruceBoxleitnericonThis might end up lost to history, but I feel that the internet’s lead-up to the release of the TRON sequel could be characterized as a “nerd frenzy.” Breathless reports described every onscreen visual and audience sound during the comics convention’s high profile promotional screenings of test films and trailers. Websights covered every angle of every advertising gimmick, poster or still. They wrote about promotional “Flynn’s Arcade” tokens like they were frozen Jesus tears.

Then the movie came out and you didn’t hear about the excitement anymore. I don’t know if it was a PHANTOM MENACE (they didn’t like it as much as they hoped) or a KICK-ASS (every single person who would like that type of movie was inside that convention). And it probly didn’t help that the original TRON didn’t exactly set the world on fire either. Until the sequel got announced I honestly didn’t realize there were people who were passionate about it.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Avenging Force

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

A bunch of people have suggested this one to me over the years, so thank you all. It’s a Michael Dudikoff picture made one year after AMERICAN NINJA. Once again Steve James is the sidekick, this time playing a senator whose family is targeted by racists, so Dudikoff tries to help them and, when that fails, becomes an avenging force.

The best thing about the movie is the bad guys. They’re introduced at a big martial arts demonstration/awards dinner type ceremony. At first it just seems like some kind of weird overlap between a martial arts club and the Republican party. They’re these prominent businessmen and they keep talking about how bad gun control is. But then all the sudden they start tossing the N-word around. These guys are fuckin white supremacists! They also have a secret “hunting club” where they dress up in Halloween masks and S&M gear and shoot arrows at humans. (read the rest of this shit…)

American Ninja

Friday, July 6th, 2007

This review is dedicated to Ryan Kenner, who’s been bugging me to see this for almost a year, and to the soldiers and planners of the American Revolution, especially if any of them were ninjas (not sure)

AMERICAN NINJA is not something I consider a classic, but it is a solid, enjoyable b-movie and it finally made me understand the Michael Dudikoff phenomenon. When I saw him in a much later movie, BLACK THUNDER (a Stealth bomber thriller remade as Seagal’s FLIGHT OF FURY) I was surprised at his lack of fighting. I assumed he was some karate champion or something like most of the ’80s action stars, but when I looked him up I found out he started as a model. No wonder.

But in this movie wouldn’t’ve noticed, because he does do plenty of fighting and makes it convincing. His line deliveries are sometimes bad but they manage to make him not talk very much. In fact, he doesn’t speak for the first 15 minutes of the movie, it almost seems like he’s mute. (read the rest of this shit…)