As I have mentioned before, even though there
are five of them, you just can't sit down and watch these
American Ninja films back to back, because they will kill
you. Literally. You need to let your brain settle and take
time between viewings. So the first two American Ninja's
were awful. As in awfully awesome! College courses should be
offered on the awesomeness of American Ninja's I & II.
American Ninja III… not so much. Just flat terrible on so
many levels terribleness that a class could be offered on
that as well. With that in mind, it took a little longer
before I was prepared to load up 'American Ninja IV: The
Annihilation', and it is still pretty bad, not coming
anywhere near the magic of the first two films, but with the
limited return of Michael Dudikoff, at least it's better
than the previous movie in almost every conceivable way…
except for one major one… that being the absence of the late
Steve James. Booo American Ninja IV!
A group of ninja are chasing some soldiers through the
jungle. For some reasons, while running, these soldiers keep
looking to the sky, even though Ninja can't fly. That's
probably why they got caught and slaughtered, except for a
couple who will be held on retainer.
Back stateside, Sean Davidson (David Bradley) has been told
by bossman that there is an evil villain that needs dealing
with, and he's the only person who can handle this business.
Him and his partner Brackston as played by Dwayne Alexandre.
Sean doesn't want to take this punk along because he sucks,
even though he's a good kid, but Sean knows full well that
simply being black doesn't automatically turn somebody into
the missing Sgt. Jackson whose absence is never explained.
Mad love for Dwayne Alexandre, but alas, he's no Steve
James. But then this side of Carl Weathers, who is? What
Sean needs is Joe Armstrong on his team, but alas Joe is
living the peaceful life teaching third world kids how to
read. Which is a bit of a revelation because we truly didn't
know that Joe, himself, knew how to read.
Sean and Brackston make it to the drop site,
beat up some people, and get the attention of today's
villain, Mr. Mulgrew. Want to know what's better in this
movie than ALL the American Ninja movies? That would be the
presence of one James Booth as the villain Mr. Mulgrew. For
the penultimate in James Booth Villainy you would have to
track down a copy of 'Pray for Death' to see Limehouse
Willie in action, but the late James Booth plays a villain
so well, that we almost believe he was a terrible person in
real life. What's Mr. Mulgrew's end game? You know… I don't
really care. I'm sure it's blowing something up and getting
a ransom or something, but it's kind of unimportant truth be
told. I just know at the end of this he will need to be beat
Sure enough, as feared, Sean gets captured but and it's
basically all because of Brackston, and now he, Brackston
and the pretty, super overdeveloped missionary they picked
up (the late Robin Stille) are toast. I mean seriously,
there is no way out. They are going to die for real. This
kind of makes Sean Davidson the Worst American Ninja ever.
Fortunately Joe has finally gotten off his ass, at the 45
minute mark in this movie, and is in this jungle kicking ass
and is getting around to rescuing the other lame American
Ninja and stop Mulgrew from burning everybody to death. Even
though he did allow that one guy to burn at the stake. I
mean it would've been real easy to stop that. Oh well.
Regardless, both American Ninja are unleashed, one will be
kicking much ass and the other will have his hands
completely full trying to fight a 75 year old British dude
that has trouble standing up straight. Worst American Ninja
The problems with the previous movie are still here, such as
a completely bland David Bradley, but a little less so time
if only because his sidekick is even more lame than he is.
Director Cedric Sundstrom was still fairly inept at his
craft at this time, the action scenes are fairly awful, the
pacing is wildly erratic, the story is almost impossible to
follow, that is if you actually want to follow it which is
not recommended, and the dialog is painful. And our two
Ninja didn't actually fight on screen with each other until
the end, and then that was only for a few seconds before the
lame one ran off chasing after the 75 year old British guy.
There was a scene where they actually faced off against each
other… but we won't talk about that craziness.
BUT where Marjoe Gortner in American Ninja III was an
abomination, James Booth in this one was a revelation. He
was just awful in this movie. Any villain who knows full
well that the priest roaming the grounds is a fake because
he 'killed them all' is a pretty mean dude. And then when
Dudikoff finally shows up, even though he had to deal with
some odd Mad Max knock off side story in this movie, at
least now we have a American Ninja movie that we somewhat
recognize. And even the closing song is better in this one.
The magic is long gone, no denying that. No Curtis
Armstrong, and the absence of the world's most incompetent
kung fu action director in Sam Firstenberg is still sorely
missed, but at least Dudikoff made it back one last time and
we are happy for that. See you in about two years to close
this thing out with American Ninja V: The Merciful End'.