Joe Armstrong, an orphaned drifter will little respect for much other than martial arts, finds himself on an American Army base in The Philippines after a judge gives him a choice of enlistment or prison. On one of his first missions driving a convoy, his platoon is attacked by a group of rebels who try to steal the weapons the platoon is transporting and kidnap Patricia, the base colonel's daughter, who happens to be along for the ride. Joe rescues Patricia and gets her safely back to the base, but everyone else in the platoon is killed, leading his superiors to conclude that Joe is guilty of cowardice, collaboration or simple incompetence. At the same time, the rebel leader vows revenge against the serviceman who disrupted his plans, and sends an army of ninjas to assassinate him and bring back Patricia. If he wants to survive and save the girl, Joe's going to have to draw on every last ounce of his training.Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mike Stone was the special martial artist choreographer for the ninjas in this film, and he recommended Tadashi Yamashita to play the lead Black Star ninja villain based on the two having known each other from their competitive martial arts backgrounds. But because of Cannon Films being notoriously cheap with their budgets, Mike Stone was then rehired to be the fight choreographer and main ninja villain in the sequel movie, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987) without again being allowed to recommend his other martial arts peers. See more »
After Joe jumps Jackson's bike over the wall to the American base, the stuntman, who is not wearing a helmet, smashing his face into the bike's windshield. See more »
Pvt. Charley Madison:
Hey! I'm great at that game. Back home in California, I'm like deadly. Hold on, I'll teach you girls how to play.
Pvt. Charley Madison:
Hey, Buddy, come on. We need an extra guy to even up the sides. Hey, come on.
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The film was released as "American Warrior" in UK cinemas and cut by 11 secs to remove shots of throwing stars and a man's genitals being squeezed during a fight scene. The same cuts were made for the video release (now retitled "American Ninja") though these were later waived for the DVD release. See more »
Most people today have forgotten, or just don't know, that AMERICAN NINJA did quite well (for an independent film, at least) when released to theaters, grossing 35 times its 1 million dollar budget. The sequels (that were released to theaters) didn't do as well, the chief reason probably being of Dudikoff's performance. For his first starring role, Dudikoff is pretty underwhelming in the lead. He has a blank expression in his eyes a lot of the time, and other times he seems plain nervous, as if he doesn't seem to know what to do. And it's clear that he was far from an expert in martial arts, seeing that the choreography has him doing pretty simple moves much of the time, and that for the most part he does only one or two moves before the editing cuts to another angle.
Most of the action (with or without Dudikoff) isn't terribly spectacular, and many viewers will probably get a little impatient between action scenes, since the movie isn't wall-to-wall action. Still, the movie never gets to be seriously boring; there are a few decent action scenes, and the goofiness of ninjas bouncing the story around does give the movie an entertaining cheesiness. Plus, there is the presence of Steve James, who (despite his limited time) really gives a likable and entertaining performance, and gets to show his genuine martial arts skills. He got to show more of all this in the sequel, which unsuprisingly is a significant improvement over this entry.
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