Friday, December 4, 2015

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation

  Cannon sequels are great. Last night, before I decided on Death Wish 2, my other two options were American Ninja 2, and Delta Force 2. There's no way you can have a bad time there, no matter what you choose. Though, decidedly I'm a sucker for the more in-your-face, over-the-top kind of punch-em-up, slice-em-up, action flick like American Ninja 2 is. Nothing against Bronson and his brand of justice, I just really like these hokey-but-violent ninja movies. I took the liberty of inviting my little brothers to watch this one with me, and they loved it- of course. What pre-teen boy wouldn't get the biggest kick out a flick like this? They were also very appreciative of the humor in the movie, which was rather cheesy- but I can't deny it, I laughed too.

  I enjoyed the heck out of the first American Ninja which I saw roughly a couple years ago, and I'd been meaning to get around to this one ever since. Well, it didn't disappoint. The movie wastes no time at all letting the fists fly. It opens with a motorcycle ride through some nice scenic routes, and then as soon as the credits close- the plot kicks into gear with a very strange bar brawl. The story of American Ninja 2 is cliche, but creative for what it is. It could have been much simpler, not that it's not already simple- but still. Though regardless, nobody watches a movie called "American Ninja 2: The Confrontation" for the plot or story. We watch for fights! And swords! And... well, ninjas. Obviously.

  Fights and ninjas are aplenty in this one. It's non-stop for the most part. Fights on the beach, at least three bar brawls- with each one longer than the last, car chases, explosions, a secret enemy compound, and so many bones snapped. So so so many. It was glorious. Michael Dudikoff (how can you not love his name?) and Steve James throw themselves into their roles 110%. Whether it's schmoozing with the ladies, or punching the hell out of hordes of ninjas- and there's way more of the latter than the former, they're in it all the way. Normally I can spot stunt doubles a mile away, but it really looked to me like Dudikoff and James did as much of their own stuff as possible. I always like it when an actor is dedicated enough to do that, and from what I heard on Electric Boogaloo (the Cannon documentary, currently on Netflix) he's one of those guys.

  I'm amazed, and saddened that you don't ever hear Dudikoff's name spoken alongside genre greats like Lundgren, Seagal, Norris, and Van Damme. He has twice the natural charisma of half of those guys, and the dedication to get in there and do his own fights. I lay the blame for his lack of fame, squarely on the shoulders of the Go-Go Brothers (Producers Golan and Globus). They cast him in all these fun roles, but his career never took off the way some of those others did. He's firmly stuck in the realm of B grade action cinema. Which is like catnip to an action movie freak like me, but he deserved a few big budget shots like those other guys.

  Anyways, Dudikoff and James exude calm and cool as they navigate a web of mystery and intrigue, trying to track down the big bad and rescue the girl. They're consistently entertaining, and overall the movie has a more serious and legitimate vibe to it than any of the movies in Cannon's ninja 'trilogy', with the possible exception of Revenge of the Ninja. They punch, kick, jump, and slash their way to the finale with an impressive body count behind them and enough clever stunt moments to make any stuntman blush. What more could you want out of a movie like this? There's even an awesome synth-heavy music score that's already stuck in my head. As far as Cannon action flicks go, this one and it's predecessor should be considered must-sees for genre fans.

  It's simple, straightforward, old fashioned, chop socky fun. It might not be as ridiculous as Enter the Ninja or as bloody as Revenge of the Ninja, but it makes up for all that with non stop action and some really fun moments. Dudikoff and James keep the excitement going and the bodies dropping throughout the whole movie. Which the quiet-coolness is definitely Dudikoff's angle, Steve James has enough one-liners to knock a whole horde of enemies dead- punned to death. It's just great. I had a good time, start to finish.  They really don't make carefree action flicks like this anymore that leave you with a big dumb grin on your face. For some reason they keep... missing the mark. No worries though, you know what never misses the mark? Ninja shurikens- so long as the good guys are throwing them. That's just the kind of movie this is- ain't it great?

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