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Readers of my user comments will see that I reviewed the first four
"American Ninja" movies years ago, but I only got around to reviewing
the last entry just now. Hope it was worth the wait. Speaking of
waiting, it wasn't worth the wait for me to track down and watch a copy
of this movie.
The action, the main attraction of a movie like this, is very lame. There is only one real martial arts battle in the first 30 minutes of the movie. When the action does start coming, there is nothing exciting or special about the martial arts sequences. The movie is also not very well made. There are signs that footage is missing from the movie - either it was lost or never filmed, leaving to some question marks such as how Bradley's character severs the chain on his handcuffs. But even if the missing footage was here, the movie would still suffer from a badly written screenplay - there's barely a plot here, and it crawls at a snail's pace, with plenty of scenes seemingly only there to pad out the running time.
I suppose Bradley gives one of his better performances, though he's still not a very compelling actor. And it's always good to see Pat Morita, though he only gets three short scenes. But even with that stuff, the movie will still have even dedicated martial arts movie fans squirming in their seats.
I bought this movie for me and my daughter to watch and what can i say, this movie was funny, action packed, and full of really clever zingers which had me laughing non stop. American Ninja V is an instant classic that I had hoped would go down in history as one of the great action-comedies. The expertly choreographed fight scenes keep your heart pumping and your mind at all times completely at a loss for who is fighting who and why. This unique style is both ground breaking and a pleasure to watch. The dialogue is very witty and surprisingly full of rich subtext. For example, when the male and female leads are escaping from an army of ninjas, the female comically remarks, "Ladies first!" (Ba-Zing!). This seemingly one-dimensional and inane one liner actually reveals the film's deeper message of female empowerment and social equality. Another example of this emotionally layered narrative is the small Asian child's swift transformation into a fat white man during the stellar chase sequences. I recommend American Ninja V to everyone I meet. It is one of the classics that redefined the way I watch films.
OK i agree that this movie is the worst of the series. It looses almost all American Ninja traditions and has a really cheep plot. It have turned from the action movie in to a family comedy and that is probably the worst thing about it. But i must admit it still was quite enjoyable to watch. It was funny and there still was a lot of ninja action and one or few chasing scenes. The actors did a great job. All the fans of the first four American ninja parts may be disappointed this time. It's a very different film. I think it was made more for a younger audience. So maybe American Ninja fans would't like this one but it should be enjoyable for a different audience.
Hum... This movie is the worst in many categories... First of all, it has
the worst music I have ever heard in a movie... It is a collection of cheap
keyboard beats inspired by video games from the Nintendo game console... I
think... It also has the most annoying character younger than 14 years old
ever. Young Anakin Skywalker from Episode One teaming up with Jeff
Goldblum's daughter in The Lost World: Jurassic Park are less annoying than
the 12 years-old Hiro in this movie. And it has some of the worst action
scenes ever put on film. In one scene near the beginning, David Bradley
"kicks a guy in the face", even if is foot clearly kicks the air. But what
is really bad, apart from all those revealing mistakes, is the action
itself. Ninjas jump out of a bush and get a kick in the face before going on
the ground and never coming up. These scenes look likes they are coming
straight out of an old karate video game. The script is more than poor, it
is pathetic. Oh! Did I mention the acting? Really bad... really really
bad... Probably the worst I have seen since Revenge of The Radioactive
Reporter. The actors are absolutely ridiculous, and not one single line in
the movie is convincing... One of those "so bad it's funny"
I hate this movie. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of the other
American Ninja movies. It still has the mindless, bumbling ninjas that
attack the star in usually poorly choreographed fight scenes, except now
everything has been toned down for PG-13, smarmy, Kodak moment/comedic
David Bradley should be ashamed of himself. He is not cast as "Joe Armstrong" of the other movies, but as "Joe Kastle." An entirely new character that had nothing to do with any of the other movies. Not as "Sean Davidson," his previously dopey character. Did the writers think that we wouldn't notice this?
Most of the young Reyes kid's stunts are done by a big fat white guy stuntman. The reason I know this is because the camera makes it painfully obvious every time. The dialogue is corny, and David Bradley's comedic lines are absolutely wretched. The plot almost exactly mirrors part 2's plot: Mean rich guy with an accent that deals with other evil rich guys with accents has a "brilliant" scientist (with an accent) working for him to make some super chemical that will allow him to rule the world. Scientist with accent cannot quit or runaway because mean rich boss with accent has kidnapped his daughter (who does NOT have an accent.) American Ninja gets wrapped up in this fiasco by incredible luck and circumstances.
The "Super Ninja" of this movie is a vampire looking guy (James Lew) that farts everytime he appears or disappears. Pat Morita rounds out the cast in three scenes where his presence is entirely useless to the plot.
Most importantly, this movie suffers the most from one very large flaw, just like part 3: Micheal Dudikoff's entirely unemotive acting and hilarious fight sequences are not present. Thank Goodness he had the smarts to end it with part 4.
This fifth outing in the American Ninja series is just as fine as the
others, i got just what i expected.
I expected a lot of ninja fighting and I got it, from the very competent David Bradley, It looks like he really knows his stuff and that`s always a big plus.
The film opened with a bang with Bradley showing his stuff in a training studio, this was best in the film. It also contained some entertaining car chases and had some fine comedy in it, but the fighting takes first position.
While this film isn't part of the actual 'American Ninja' cannon since
it has nothing to do with the previous four films in the supposed
series, I really didn't care. After all, NONE of these film have decent
ratings (the highest current on has a score of 4.8) and they are all
apparently sub-par. However, the most incredibly sub-par of them all is
this film, "American Ninja V", which has the distinction of being so
universally hated that it made the IMDb Bottom 100 list--and that is
why I chose to watch it. You see, I occasionally like a really bad
film--it gives you a good laugh at the filmmakers' expense! This film
has one cliché that makes it hard to like. No, it's not ninjas--it's
insufferable kids who come along to help the hero. Not only is this kid
an annoying brat, but he also is a bad actor...like most of the folks
in the film. This is a problem, as most folks coming to see the film
probably ended up rooting for him to get killed! A modern ninja (David
Bradley) is asked to watch some brat (Hiro--Lee Reyes). Almost
immediately, they get sucked into an international conspiracy involving
a crazed general, weapons of mass destruction, purple ninjas and some
cartoon-like baddie in a black and red outfit with a cape! They end up
in Venezuela (which might well explain the current state of poor
relations between this country and the US) and get their butts kicked.
Then, the mysterious Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita--and yes, I know he is not
really playing Miyagi here) shows up an announces that the talentless
kid is really the son of a great ninja master and that he has powers
that have not yet been tapped--secret ninja training his dead father
taught him when he was very, very young(???). And, there is a short
montage with Bradley and Reyes training and BAM, the kid is a
super-ninja! Well, at least that's what they want us to
believe--neither appear particularly skilled in martial arts. And the
two of them go on a rampage to rescue the girl (there always is one)
and save the planet.
This film has neither element needed in a good martial arts film. The story and acting are dumb. And, the martial arts action is lousy. In fact, I could easily see Asians watching this and becoming angry that the US could produce a film with absolutely no one with good martial arts skills. Well, perhaps not--as I have seen a lot of martial arts films and bad martial arts films are unfortunately relatively common. And this brings me to a problem with ranking this bad film among the horrid Bottom 100 list. The Asians have made a lot of martial arts films and have produced a few that are FAR WORSE than this film. For every Sonny Chiba or Bruce Lee film, there are others that simply are terrible. My favorite of these horrid films featured guys using 3 foot tongues to fight AND they had gorillas (guys in cheap gorilla suits) who also did wretched kung fu! So, no matter how stupid "American Ninja V" is, it isn't even close to the worst the Far East has to offer. The big difference is that "American Ninja V" has a much wider audience and therefore is easier to notice and hate! For the life of me, I sure wish I could remember the name of the film with kung fu gorillas and the guys with the huge tongues--I'd love to see it again! I remember how the punches and kicks often weren't even within a foot of the intended victim! It made "American Ninja V" look like "Gone With the Wind" in comparison!! If you can place the title, drop me a line. I am SURE it's a real film and I am not hallucinating about it! Cartoon-like villains and special effects
Many years ago I saw parts 1 and 2 of the series and they were average action movies without great plots going on, ok but they were fun to see. Out of casuality, I was looking for info on the sequels here and read the terrible comments on this one, and out of casuality again, they showed it on local tv a few days ago. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING in this movie is good except for the landscapes of my country, which made me wonder how much did they spend travelling here to film such a piece of garbage. Terrible acting, laughable absurd fighting, predictable crappy plot, and it doesn't connect to the series at all. Oh boy, if any of you is reading this whithout having seen the movie, please don't see it EVER.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie has no connections with any of the previous four American
Ninja movies. David Bradley plays a new character here. As bad as this
sequel is, it's not even the worst sequel in the series. That dubious
honor goes to American Ninja IV. Everything is just shoddily thrown
together here, but what do you expect with something that is done by
the now obsolete production company, Cannon? Everything just screams
cheap here, from the tacky villains, the setting, it's all truly
terrible. James Lew (The main henchman for the big villain Clement Von
Franckenstein ) looked like a Power Ranger villain, with his ridiculous
red & black silk cape, and a pendant hanging around his neck, and
retractable spikes coming out of his hand like Wolverine. It was
extremely cartoonish. He also conjures up ninjas out of nowhere to
fight David Bradley. Sound familiar? The fight scenes themselves are
rather bland. David Bradley is obviously a skilled martial artist, but
there is nothing out of the ordinary, move wise with him. He's also an
extremely wooden actor, despite a little bit of natural charisma. He's
more in the Chuck Norris School of acting in my opinion. Adding a kid
in this movie, was a terrible choice. Lee Reyes (Hiro the kid) was a
complete and utter nuisance. He is given far too much screen time, and
never shuts up. He seems to be skilled in martial arts, and knows how
to cry on cue. That's about the only compliments I can give him. Anne
DuPont (Lisa) couldn't act her way out of a paper bag as the love
interest. Stars like Norman Burton & Pat Morita look embarrassed to be
here. Morita's role is a glorified cameo, and it's weird to see him
speak almost perfect English. The film shoddily tries to add emotional
impact by revealing family issues at the end to fuel the good guys, but
it failed miserably.
Final Thoughts: This is a bad movie. I cannot recommend this to anybody, but at least it's not as bad as American Ninja IV. This movie is obscure for a reason, despite a DVD release. Don't waste any money on it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Did you know there is an American Ninja FIVE? Apparently there is, even
though it was meant to be something called American Dragons and perhaps
they didn't want to confuse it with the other, better movie of the same
In this anti-climactic ending to the American Ninja franchise, David Bradley plays Joe Kastle (not Armstrong as in prior A.N. films), a guy who lives on a boat and likes to work out. One day, Master Tetsu (Morita) pawns off his "grand-nephew" Hiro (Reyes) on Joe and leaves to go to Greece for a vacation. While Joe is learning to cope with babysitting this annoying brat, it turns out that his new girlfriend Lisa (Dupont) is kidnapped by the evil Viper (Lew) and his gang of ninjas. Viper works for the nefarious Glock (von Franckenstein), a man who is using scientists to develop an insecticide named ZB-12. Lisa's father is a scientist but refuses to work on the potentially dangerous project. So Joe and Hiro must go through a bunch of travails in Venezuela to rescue Lisa who is kidnapped there. Along the way, Joe and Hiro forge a friendship based on the ways of the ninja.
Rather than be loyal to the fans that have followed the series through the years, Cannon pawns this juvenile, watered-down, PG-13 rated dreck on the audience like Pat Morita does his bratty relative onto David Bradley in this patience-testing exercise.
Bradley is likable enough and he looks like a young Craig Ferguson, although he is your classic action movie dumb-dumb. His young foil is another matter. Hiro is a precocious 12 year old whose presence in this movie is not needed. He says "whoa!" while Bradley fights the baddies, who are purple, green, and white ninjas, as if this was a video game. Speaking of which, Hiro's Game Gear plays a surprisingly big role in this film. Hiro has a matching Miami Dolphins baseball cap/coat and, sadly, brings this movie into the current "ADD generation".
The movie as a whole could have been better, even if it was aiming more for the family market, but this Hiro kid gets on your nerves. Plus the whole daughter/scientist father aspect was already done in American Ninja 2 (1987). Couldn't they come up with something new? It's director Leonard's only movie to date and you think he would be familiar with past entries in the series, but maybe he never watched them. That's certainly what it seems like; he didn't try to impress with his knowledge of past A.N.'s, that's for sure...which seems odd. Having American Ninja 5 be the only movie on your resume is indeed a bizarre way to enter movie history. The whole Karate Kid aspect of the film is even further enhanced by the presence of Pat Morita. Did any kid ever see this movie...ever? The baddies are more interesting, as Glock strongly resembles Bernie Madoff and James Lew's entrances and exits are by far the best part of this movie. It's here that this film becomes utterly absurd. They should have gone in that direction more, if you see the movie you'll know what we mean.
The jaunty flute music enhances the mild nature of the proceedings, and it's unfortunate that the mighty American Ninja franchise fell victim to the old sitcom trick of "Addakid", that is, when all the sitcom kids grow up and aren't cute anymore, to simply add a newer, younger, cuter kid regardless of whether it makes sense plotwise. It's an ignominious way for this beloved series to go.
Even though this movie came out in 1993, it looks and seems older, but maybe that's because it's pretty lame and impotent, not to mention way overlong.
You'd have to be a die-hard fan of the American Ninja films or any of the actors involved to sit through this insult to people who followed the original four films in this series.
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