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  American Ninja 2: The Confrontation Pyjama Party
Year: 1987
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Stars: Michael Dudikoff, Steve James, Larry Poindexter, Gary Conway, Jeff Celentano, Michelle Botes, Mike Stone, Len Sparrowhawk, Jonathan Pienaar, Bill Curry, Dennis Folbigge, Elmo Fillis, Ralph Draper, John Pasternack, Gary Ford, Melvin Jones, Adrian Waldron
Genre: Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A trio of Marines ride up on motorbikes and stop at this bar on an apparent island paradise where they are stationed, but once they go inside and order their drinks, they are accosted by a gang of toughs who ask them for some spare change, then get to what they are really there for, to beat them up. However, one of the trio, Taylor (Jonathan Pienaar) goes and hides behind a corner as the mayhem ensues, and when a couple of black-clad ninjas march in and pick up the dazed Marines, they cart them off. Taylor is in on this subterfuge, so what can be done to stop it? Four Marines have gone missing recently, and the top brass are concerned enough to bring in two U.S. Army men...

That duo being the two returning characters from the first American Ninja movie, Michael Dudikoff as Sergeant Joe Armstrong and as his sidekick Sergeant Curtis Jackson, Steve James, who in a just world would have been the leading man and not the support, as he usually was. However it was the softly spoken and not tremendously charismatic Dudikoff who producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were grooming as their big home grown star, so it was he who got the most to do, though as it turned out this would be the last movie he made with the notorious Cannon cousins, not that this stopped him from making more American Ninja movies - you gotta stick to what you're good at, after all.

After the po-faced original, it seemed everyone concerned was more keen to have a little more fun this time around, so there was a degree more intentional humour and as a result, this was probably more enjoyable than what had happened in the initial instalment. Of course, a lot of that was down to the unintentional humour as well, but for many fans the absurdity was what made these efforts amusing, so if you wanted to see Dudikoff incapacitate a ninja by tossing a small stick at his leg, then this was the movie for you. The plot begins as a mystery of sorts, as we don't know why the Marines are getting kidnapped, but when we find out it's like something out of an old Bela Lugosi mad scientist flick.

All the more when you know that the main bad guy was played by Gary Conway, who may have been best known as a television actor on shows like Burke's Law or Land of the Giants, but it was worth noting he started his career in a B-movie by the name of I Was a Teenage Frankenstein. He was no teenager by the time he made this, but he did contribute heavily to the screenplay (along with fellow actor James Booth, who did not appear here), and one can only speculate that he was moved to return to his roots with the premise for American Ninja 2. For these were no ordinary ninjas, nope, they were genetically engineered super ninjas who in spite of this incredible status were just as easy to get the better of by the heroes as the common or garden variety.

But it was the Dude who was the proper exponent of ninja-ism, although for most of this you'll be thinking if he's the American Ninja, how come he doesn't put on the all-black costume? Shô Kosugi and even Franco Nero did, and they're not even American! OK, they're not ninjas either, but they played them in movies. However, rest assured that in the final half hour Dudikoff was moved to don the proper outfit, partly as a disguise, and partly to prove that he had the credentials - we see a flashback to his training in the first film - bringing the highly honed assassin's skills to bumping off as many ne'erdowells as he possibly could at Conway's secret base (Conway gave himself the moniker "Lion", possibly a reference to his dyed blonde hair). It's all to stop, guess what, a massive amount of heroin invading the United States, though how superninjas would help with that is difficult to say, and presumably if it was cocaine they'd say, "Eh, we'll allow it" but actually it was an excuse to prove ninjas are vulnerable to machine gun fire. Now they tell us! Music by George S. Clinton.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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