The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 03.04.13 Issue #248: American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 03.04.2013
In this issue I take a look at 1987‘s American Ninja 2: The Confrontation starring Michael Dudikoff and Steve James, plus More Things I’m Tired Of, a new batch of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, and more. Check it out.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #248: American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that doesn't give a flying fuck what Lena Dunham thinks about anything, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and forty-eight, I take a look at the second movie in the American Ninja franchise, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, which came out in 1987 and stars Michael Dudikoff and the Steve James.
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)
It's been a little over a year since this column reviewed the first American Ninja flick, American Ninja (here's that review, just in case you don't remember reading it), so I figured it was time to once again delve into the 1980's low budget action movie franchise that was both a video store given and a staple of Saturday afternoon TV for year and years and years. American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, directed by the great Sam Firstenberg (he also directed the first movie), doesn't feel like it should be a sequel; it feels more like a second sequel (so, in essence, American Ninja 2 feels more like it should be American Ninja 3). It features the usual batch of badass characters from the first movie, but it's also way too ambitious for its own good. It doesn't have the necessary budget to fulfill its vision. It's still a fun movie, though.
The movie stars Michael Dudikoff and Steve James as Joe Armstrong and Curtis Jackson, the same guys they played in the first American Ninja movie. This time, though, they're pals right from the beginning, not to mention badass Army Rangers. They're on special assignment, flying to an unnamed Caribbean island to help the U.S. embassy there figure out what the heck is happening to its contingent of U.S. Marines (Marines apparently guard U.S. embassies all over the world). The local Marine commander, Captain "Wild Bill" Woodward (Jeff Weston, although now he's known as Jeff Celentano for some reason), isn't too keen on having Army Rangers help him figure out where his Marines are disappearing to, but he doesn't have much choice. His job, just like Armstrong and Jackson, is to follow orders.
Now, since this is an American Ninja movie, you just know that ninjas are going to figure into the plot somehow. As we see at the very beginning of the movie, a group of ninjas, in cahoots with a band of local bar thugs that sound like a cross between a 1980's Australian thug movie cliché and a 1980's South African thug movie cliché, are kidnapping the Marines for nefarious purposes. Tommy Taylor (Jonathan Pienaar), either a Marine or just a local that likes to hang out with the Marines, acts as the middleman for the ninjas. As they start their investigation, Tommy tries to get the ninjas to attack Armstrong and Jackson (it doesn't go well for the ninjas). Armstrong immediately goes after Tommy, ducking ninjas and other bad guys while trying to find the truth. Who does Taylor work for? Where the hell are these ninjas from? Just what the hell is going on here?
It's at this point in the story that we find out that the ninjas work for Leo "The Lion" Burke (Gary Conway), an international drug dealer and big local investor. The Lion has the local police in his back pocket and a world renowned scientist, Professor Sanborne (Ralph Draper), under lock and key. Professor Sanborne's daughter, the spunky Alicia (Michelle Botes), has been trying to expose The Lion's criminal work, but has been rebuffed time and time again by every authority on the island (you can't go after Leo Burke! He's rich and well respected for the love of God!). Luckily for Alicia, both Armstrong and Jackson believe her, and promise her that they'll get to the bottom of everything.
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation is clearly not as slick or polished as the first American Ninja. There are plenty of action and fight scenes, but most of them feel rushed, especially the battle on the beach where Armstrong and Jackson first run into the ninjas. At times it doesn't even look like anyone is making an effort to make it look like they're hitting one another. Everyone is just going through the motions, practicing for a big, full on, hard hitting fight scene that's never going to be filmed because the production doesn't have the time or money to film it. Firstenberg tries to make it all look good, but even he can't make it work as well as it needs to.
And then there's the big reveal: just what the heck is The Lion up to? The Lion, with the help of Professor Sanborne, is creating super ninjas. Why? I'm going to assume that The Lion wants the super ninjas so he can somehow make more money as an international drug runner. The Lion could also be interested in just taking over the island, creating his own tiny nation that can also function as a defacto, official/unofficial drug running capital of the world. The movie never tries to make The Lion's motives clear beyond simply creating the super ninjas.
Now, creating super ninjas for nefarious purposes is a cool idea for a movie, but you have to have the money to make the super ninja creating operation look credible. American Ninja 2 doesn't have the money to do that. The "super ninja lab" looks like a bunch of naked men standing behind clear glass shower stalls. There's nothing "gee whiz" about any of it. And Ralph Draper, as Professor Sanborne, is just terrible. He isn't the least bit sympathetic, and it's hard to believe that he had the skills or the mental abilities to create the program that then created the super ninjas. Am I supposed to find him credible because he has a British accent?
At least the final battle is kind of cool, involving Armstrong and Jackson and the Marines taking on the ninjas. There are explosions, gun battles, and several ninja sword fighting sequences that showcase what kind of energy the movie could have had with a little more money.
Dudikoff and James do their usual excellent job. They both come off as real badasses, even when they're not going full bore ninja in the movie's various fights. Larry Poindexter, as Sgt. Charlie McDonald, provides a bit of comic relief as the smart ass Marine that sort of teams up with Armstrong and Jackson during their investigation. The big bar fight in the middle of the movie is Poindexter's highlight. And Jeff Weston is unintentionally hilarious as Wild Bill. His "tits" line is a 1980's classic. His stilted acting is a hoot, too.
Gary Conway, who also came up with the story for the movie and co-wrote the screenplay, isn't very good as the international criminal Leo "The Lion" Burke. He tries very hard to be a scumbag but he's just too bland to get the job done. Mike Stone does a good job as the lead bad guy ninja Tojo Ken. He has a nifty scar on his face, and he doesn't look ridiculous in his ninja garb. That's always a plus in a ninja movie. And Bill Curry, as Inspector Singh, is slimy as hell. He probably should have been the movie's main villain. He's that good.
It's not as good as the first one, but American Ninja 2: The Confrontation is still worth checking out. It's cheesy and cheap with oodles of problems, but it's still kind of fun. There are ninjas in it, and ninjas are always fun.
See American Ninja 2: The Confrontation as soon as you can. See it, see it, see it.
And be on the lookout for the third American Ninja movie, which I will hopefully get to before 2014. That's the plan, anyway. Ha.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 87 (that's what imdb.com claims. It's a plausible number).
Nudity?: None that I remember.
Doobage: Guys riding motorcycles like idiots (they're going way too fast and they're close to the edge of several cliffs. What the hell is wrong with these guys?), beer drinking, a bar fight, ninjas, hot babes in bikinis, the beach, a little punk kid with a funny hat, "left wing elements," attempted water skiing, alleged engine failure, ninja attack, a human ladder, spear throwing, spear to the chest, attempted strangulation, multiple arrows to the back, wood sword fighting, wood sword throwing, hook on a stick attack, serious wrist breaking, net attack, water to the face, sword breaking, arrow catching, another bar fight, leaping side kick over a banister, spear to the gut, a sort of car chase, yet another bar fight, dress blues destruction, a nasty "guys falling on a table and breaking it" scene, fist crushing, a massive palm thrust to the face, car stripping, another ninja attack, neck breaking, massive leg breaking, poison dart catching, ninja star to the forehead, a great "ninja on fire" gag, small wooden stick fighting, a ninja jumps over a truck, a ninja that refuses to die, wild flipping truck with huge explosion, a ninja skills demonstration, more arrow throwing, a knife that doubles as bolt cutters, yet another ninja attack, throat slitting, dart to the head, little knife to the throat, disguises, meditation, talk of "ninja magic," sword stealing, a big ass ninja fight, grenade attack, flying ninja, a low budget siege, wide blade knives, a wicked back flip, neck breaking via boot to the neck, ninja with a shotgun, gut slashing, a Swiss army knife, and the promise of a third American Ninja.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Guys riding on motorcycles like idiots, beer drinking, several bar fights, ninjas, ninja attacks, Michael Dudikoff and Steve James, Michael Dudikoff and Steve James playing Army Rangers, hot babes in bikinis, animosity between the Army and the Marines, "left wing elements," a guy that is supposed to be Michael Dudikoff but clearly isn't, engine failure, a beach ninja attack, a human ladder, a bunch of stuff about "Blackbeard Island," Michael Dudikoff and Steve James disguised as Marines, a great "ninja on fire" gag, a ninja that refuses to die, a ninja skills demonstration, ninjas wearing colored sashes, a bunch of hooey about genetic engineering, talk of "ninja magic," flying ninja, a low budget siege, ninja with a shotgun, a Swiss army knife, and the promise of a third American Ninja movie.
Best lines: "Come on, guys, you're going to love this place," "We're Marines, not tourists. Bug off," "I don't think I'm going to like it here, buddy," "Our fan club is beginning to grow," "The U.S. Marines strike again," "Ninja? What the hell are ninja?," "I mean, what is this? Ninjas? Drug pushers? My men getting kidnapped and murdered? This is really beginning to get on my tits!," "It's that damn American ninja! He fights like a tiger!," "The Super Ninja- the ultimate fighting machine!," "I think the professor needs his vitamins. Take him away," "Finish off that sonofabitch! Finish him off once and for all!," and "Merry Christmas!"
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey. And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.
- Red Dawn:I did a mini-review for this remake here. Like the original, the Red Dawn remake is absolutely ridiculous, but it's still a kind of fun action movie anyway. I just wish the people behind the movie came up with a plausible scenario for North Korea's invasion of the United States.
- The Marine 3: Homefront: I saw the first The Marine with John Cena and thought it was, at best, okay. I missed the second one, but I plan on seeing that movie when I eventually see this one. The Miz looks pretty good in the trailer, and I'm all for this kind of low budget action movie getting churned out by various studios. Hopefully WWE Studios can stick around long enough to release ten of these movies.
- Interview with a Hitman: I don't know much about this movie outside of Luke Goss being in it. Luke Goss is a pretty good actor, so in general I'm interested in seeing whatever the heck he's up to. I'm a little burned out on the whole "assassin" thing, but what the heck? I can sit through another one if need be.
- The Bay: I don't quite understand why this movie didn't get a wider release. It's essentially a found footage horror movie directed by Barry Levinson (yes, that Barry Levinson, the guy behind Rain Man). You would think oodles of people would want to see that. How often do we get a Barry Levinson horror movie?
For some reason I can't post the trailer for this flick here, so you can go here to see it. Pretty cool, huh?
- House Hunting: I don't know much about this low budget horror flick, but Marc Singer (the goddamn Beastmaster) and the immortal Art LaFleur are in it. That's reason enough to check it out in my book. Art LaFleur! The man is a legend! Marc Singer, too.
- Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter: This British horror flick, featuring the Ray Winstone and Rupert Evans, among others, looks pretty dang freaky. I would like to know why the title has been changed to Cannibal Hunter. What the heck is wrong with Elfie Hopkins? If this is the start of a franchise, is Hopkins going to be hunting cannibals in her every adventure? Does that seem plausible?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Danica Patrick
More Things I'm Tired Of
The following is a list of Things I'm Tired Of. The following items do not appear in any order of importance. It's just a list of Things I'm Tired Of. Enjoy.
- People who make their own beer: You know, I'm happy that you've managed to find a hobby that you're interested in and everything, but when I tell you that I don't want to drink your home brewed beer I don't need to know how you made it. First off, I don't drink (I know I should but I don't), and second, I don't give a shit. I don't care how long it took you to save up to buy the equipment, I don't care how many magazines and websites you looked at to find out what you needed to do to make the beer, and I don't care where in your house/apartment you made it. I also don't care what your beer is named. "Really, you named your beer after your grandfather's dead dog? Really?"
Please, for the love of God, just take my "Wow, cool, good luck with that" and leave the room. Or you could just talk to me about something else. Anything else. Please.
- Sean Hannity telling people "I'm a registered conservative": While watching clips of the recent dust up between Douchebag Hall of Famer Hannity and Minnesota Democratic Congressperson Keith Ellison, Hannity made a point to tell Ellison, when Ellison called him a "tool of the Republican Party," that he was, actually, a "registered Conservative."
New York State, Hannity is not "above the fray" when it comes to being a mouthpiece of the Republican Party. Because that is what Hannity and just about every other person on Fox News is; a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. He spews the Republican line every single chance he gets. And since the Republican and Conservative party platforms are essentially the same, where is the distance? If Hannity wanted to appear "above the fray," he would follow the lead of fellow Douchebag Hall of Famer Bill O'Reilly and claim to be an "independent." It would be bullshit, sure, but at least then it wouldn't look as egregiously bogus.
- Phil Mickelson's eyes: Okay, what the hell is the deal with this guy's eyes? Does he have some kind of disease that makes his eyes "bug eyed" all the time? Because I swear to God, every single time I see him, either on the news or in that drug commercial he appears in, I get the feeling that he's trying to hypnotize me. I think it's high time that pro golf or the networks force Phil to wear sunglasses 24/7. That way, he won't look like he doesn't have eyelids and, hey, sunglasses make you look cool. Who doesn't want to look cool?
- Bill O'Reilly's books: My biggest fear with O'Reilly's books is that they'll become so successful that someone in Hollywood will want to make a big time, big budget movie out of one of his Killing books. The Scott brothers made a TV movie out of the Lincoln book (Tom Hanks was involved in that one). I have no idea what kind of rating the Lincoln movie got, but I'm sure it was relatively respectable (I haven't heard O'Reilly bragging about the movie's ratings, but that doesn't mean anything as I don't watch him every night). If it was a hit, modest or large, you know and I know that since Hollywood is, above all else, a business interested in making money, Ridley Scott or someone else will make a bigger budget movie out of one of the books. And then O'Reilly's arrogance and smugness will know no bounds. He'll be hanging out with the "Hollywood elite," "not fitting in" but somehow making everyone "sit up and take notice." Oh God no.
Yes, it could get even worse than it is now. Do you want to see that? Do you want to experience that? I know I don't. Please, people, please, stop buying these goddamn things.
- People wondering what NBC needs to do get out of the ratings basement: NBC is in deep shit. It has a few hits, like football and The Voice and, to a lesser extent, Revolution and Chicago Fire, but everything else has been a failure. Old shows are going away with nothing promising waiting in the wings to replace them. The network is fucked. Big time. What the hell does NBC have to do to become a major player again?
Make shows people want to watch. It really is that fucking simple. Make shows people want to watch. Stop trying to play to only the young. Get everyone involved. Old, young, kids and adults, etc. Everyone. And once you get one or two real hits, build from there. If you don't hit that young demographic immediately, don't panic. Don't get rid of a show, like Harry's Law, that has a good rating but doesn't skew young. Use that show to build off. And then, maybe in a few years, you'll be number one again, or at least competitive.
Why is this so hard to figure out? Isn't this how all networks build back?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to World Wrestling Entertainment, for inducting Donald Trump into its WWE Hall of Fame. I know, I know, we're talking about a pro wrestling hall of fame here, and Trump, 2012 Douchebag of the Year, is set to be inducted in the "celebrity wing" of the hall, where William "The Refrigerator" Perry, Pete Rose, and Drew Carrey currently reside. It's just a gag, a scheme, a "work," like everything else in pro wrestling. What's the big deal?
Donald Trump is a major douchebag. He'll claim that the Wrestlemania buy rate will be huge because he'll appear on the show, or he'll claim that his "I bought Raw" bit was the biggest thing to ever happen to pro wrestling (ha, not even close). He's just an awful, awful person. I would much rather see rapist Lawrence Taylor inducted first. At least he beat Bam Bam Bigelow at Wrestlemania XI.
Plus, I don't want to see Trump ever again on Raw or Smackdown. This Hall of Fame thing will lead to more of it. You just know it will.
Fuck Donald Trump. He's awful.
And then there's the ultra right wing media machine, for whining about First Lady Michelle Obama's appearance at the Oscars. It was just more "Soviet-style propaganda" from the Kenyan and his socialist brood the right wing yahoos claimed. It was also, apparently, proof that the President and the First Lady hate America and real Americans. Hollywood is full of liberals, queers, and other assorted evil ones. Don't you know that? Don't you?
If someone wanted to make the argument that the Obamas, both President Barack and First Lady Michelle were "overexposed in the media" as a whole, I'd be willing to listen. But it doesn't really matter what for or where the Obamas appear, it will always be about "furthering the cause" and "hating America." You'd think this kind of shit would get old for them and they would come up with some new "they hate America!" material. But it hasn't happened, and it probably never will. The suckers keep buying it, I guess.
I swear, if Michelle Obama was photographed buying a box of generic Q-Tips at Target drug addict Rush Limbaugh would talk about it for a week straight. And Bernie Goldberg would go on O'Reilly's show and explain how the generic Q-Tips from Target are really a secret message to the liberal base in New York City and Hollywood. And people would believe it.
Insanity. Fucking insanity.
And finally there's Jane Fonda, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lena Dunham, and everyone else in Hollywood offended by the "Boobs" song. The song was "tasteless" and "crude" and "awful" and "didn't further the feminist cause" and "My God there were children and families watching!" and, my favorite, "some of those boobs scenes were rape scenes!" You just don't do that at the Oscars! The Oscars is about art and class! Art and class!
Ludicrous. The Oscars show is a business, a TV show meant to bring in a high rating. If it isn't entertaining no one is going to watch. As for the "families are watching" line, if that was important then the nominated movies would all be "family friendly" and absolutely no one would comment afterwards on the dresses and female fashion (Who was hot? Who was not hot? We'll let you know!). As for the "rape scenes" complaint, you people need to get a fucking life. The song is about fucking nudity. The song doesn't give a shit about anything else. And that's why it's funny. It's meant to be ridiculous.
Everyone needs to calm the fuck down. And, yes, before anyone asks, a funny song about penises in movies would be great. I can't wait to hear it next year when Tina Fey hosts.
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
I didn't get a chance to see either the NASCAR Sprint Cup race or the Nationwide race from Phoenix this past weekend (well, I did see the final 30 or so laps of the Cup race). I know that Kyle Busch won the Nationwide race on Saturday (he apparently dominated the event), and Carl Edwards won the Cup race on Sunday. Denny Hamlin made quite the insane move on the last lap to try to get second (he ended up finishing 3rd behind Jimmie Johnson).
Las Vegas is up next for both Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series. I might actually get a chance to see both of those races. I hope to, at least.
Not much going on in Indycar at the moment. The first race of the season is only a few weeks away. The Speed channel's Marshall Pruett claims the first race at St. Petersburg will have 24 cars. I'll believe it when I see it.
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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American Ninja 2: The Confrontation
Michael Dudikoff- Sgt. Joe Armstrong Steve James- Sgt. Curtis Jackson Jeff Weston- Captain "Wild Bill" Woodward Michelle Botes- Alicia Sanborn Gary Conway- Leo "The Lion" Burke Larry Poindexter- Sgt. Charlie McDonald Mike Stone- Tojo Ken Jonathan Pienaar- Tommy Taylor Bill Curry- Inspector Singh Len Sparrowhawk- Pat McCarthy Dennis Folbigge- Sir Cloudsly Smith Ralph Draper- Professor Sanborne Elmo Fillis- Toto
Directed by Sam Firstenberg Screenplay by Gary Conway and James Booth, based on a story by Gary Conway and characters created by Gideon Amir and Avi Kleinberger
Distributed by MGM/UA Home Entertainment and Cannon Pictures
Rated R for violence and language Runtime- 90 minutes