In much the same way Lustbader innovated The Ninja as an American icon, the 1985 action film American Ninja made the ninja every kid’s personal favorite. I still remember the ninja costumes I wore every Halloween through so many of those years.
The story revolves around action movie tough guy Michael Dudikoff as Private Joe Armstrong. His first mission on base goes terribly wrong when the Black Star Ninja Army (yes, that is seriously their name) attacks his convoy. His four fellow soldiers die, but Armstrong uses his own skills to save the colonel’s daughter (who was allowed to tag along for no particular reason) and escape back to the base.
He gets stuck on cleaning duties in the aftermath, but befriends a karate buff named Curtis Jackson after he easily beats Jackson in a sparring match. We learn that Joe is an amnesiac. His only memories are his utter mastery of the martial arts.
Joe uses his martial arts skills not only to uncover the secrets of the Black Star Ninja Army, but also his own origins. With only the aid of Jackson, he eventually takes on the entire Black Star Ninja Army (yes, I am going to try and type that name every time I can) and their leader, a traitorous local merchant.
I’ll be honest the story is nothing to write home about and the acting is flimsy at best. But that isn’t really the point. The point was to make a B-grade chop socky flick with a distictively American protagonist. The movie accomplishes this goal perfectly. It ain’t find art, but it is a fun film that gets increasingly cheesy as time goes on. Mildly Recommended.