Well, who didn't see this one making it to the program? It's 1). Michael J. Dudikoff 2). Cannon Films and 3). Ninja baloney that doesn't require any working knowledge of ninjas, just that they are sweet.
We've got a VERY special guest for the American Ninja main episode, Joe Fulgham from the Caustic Soda Podcast. You don't want to miss this one.
The power to freeze time within spheres around you - 1 out of 10 - The worst superpower ever!
American Ninja is the second leg of the Cannon Films Group’s love affair with the ninja. It all started when Menaham Golan, fresh off of The Apple, which was received not so well, said to himself; “Fuck it, I’m making a ninja movie”. Though it may not have happened exactly like that, the decision, and the film Enter the Ninja would trail blaze (dare I say) mostly inaccurate ninja films for years to come.
For the sequel Revenge of the Ninja, director Sam Firstenberg would be enlisted to carry the torch. That torch was a dubious one as Revenge was more a re-imagining of Enter the Ninja than a sequel. This would however allow Firstenberg and his team to fully enter left field with Ninja 3: The Domination, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the first two and even less to do with things that could happen on earth or with people.
Firstenberg was a favorite of Golan and the CFG. Just as he was completing Breakin’2: Electric Boogaloo, his phone rang. It was Golan, who shouted “Why the fuck aren’t we making a ninja movie?”. Though it might not have happened exactly like that, what followed would be American Ninja. I am not sure why this isn’t Ninja 4: American Ninja, Ninja 3 left the door open for anything. My assumption would be that the lack of Sho Kosugi caused the opening of a new ninja franchise.
For those keeping score between the Ninja and American Ninja franchises Cannon released ninja movies in 1981, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 90, and 93. American Ninja 5 would be the second two last film released by the CFG (The last being Chain of Command, the last theatrical release was Hellbound with Chuck Norris).
Firstenberg would also direct American Samurai in 1992, which would put him at 5 similarly themed films when adding the last 2 Ninjas and the first 2 American Ninjas. Also released in 1992, Lethal Ninja was titled in the US; American Ninja 5: The Nostradamus Syndrome, this would explain why the real fifth installment was stylized American Ninja V. David Bradley would be the “American Ninja” in the fifth, he was also the “American Samurai”.
Michael Dudikoff started out as a runway model. He would step it up and have successful print campaigns with both CK and GQ. He would then turn to acting, poorly. The thing that surprises me about his career is how many TV shows he was in. I don’t remember any of them, but I will have to look into one; Cobra, where Dudikoff plays an ex-Navy SEAL who has to bust everybody’s ass while driving an AC Cobra. It was produced by one Stephen J. Cannell, so I am going to check it out. During the filming of this movie he would contract malaria.
Steve James died tragically of pancreatic cancer in 1993. He left us too soon. We needed him to kick so much more ass. The majority of the films he was in are worth checking out as they required a stunt man who could act or an actor that would jump off a roof without his shirt on, Steve James shit. The consummate team player, James would have most of his fight scenes filmed with the second unit as Dudikoff didn’t know any martial arts but made it clear that he was the lead and didn’t want to be shown up. They would become friends by the second, which I assume to mean Dudikoff realized he was a no talent dufus and he just needed to ride the wave.
Judie Aronson got a rough start to her acting career. It was when Joe Vito tried almost killed her via hypothermia during the filming of Friday the 13: The Final Chapter (which thankfully wasn’t). She isn’t on the Time Machine Hit List. She is on my "right now hit list", she has aged like wine. She finally got out of Cannon movies and, though infrequent, has stayed active. Her most recent appearance is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
KAEOF: Steve James’ strip tease and the stunt man who loses his face.