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‘American Ninja 2: The Confrontation’

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 04, 1987


Sam Firstenberg
Michael Dudikoff;
Steve James;
Larry Poindexter;
Gary Conway
Under 17 restricted

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"American Ninja 2: The Confrontation." Say, what a clever title! I mean, has anybody ever seen a Ninja film without a confrontation?

How about Ranger Joe Armstrong (U.S. Army, not Texas) versus not just one Bionic Ninja, but dozens of these "experts in assassination" coming hot out of the bionic engineering lab. They are "strong, obedient, heartless, and feel no pain or emotion but hate," says their leader, a drug czar known as the Lion, and they're out to eradicate a crew that's agile, mobile and hostile -- two rangers and a small group of Marines assigned to embassy guard duty in some tropical paradise where surf and curfew never meet.

Armstrong (Michael Dudikoff) and his muscle-bound black buddy Ernest Jackson (Steve James) or, as audiences like to call out, "Rambro," are sent to track down some missing Marines; instead, everywhere they turn, they find either bullies looking to pick fights or Ninjas looking to pick up the pieces.

"Men in black suits ... sounds familiar, doesn't it?" asks James, like Dudikoff a holdover from the first "American Ninja." The dialogue doesn't get much better than this because in this genre, punches are more desirable than punch lines. In the Cannon Films esthetic, the only good Ninja is a dead Ninja, and the bodies certainly fly fast and furious here.

Okay, it's silly, but maybe you were expecting "Tess of the D'Ubervilles?" And from a director named Sam Firstenberg?

Dudikoff, who's a cross between Chuck Norris and Audie Murphy, is the strong silent type. James, who likes to work bare-chested, is the strong loud type. Of course, they both survive for what could become "American Ninja 3: The Date." In what may be a first for a martial arts film, James actually kisses a woman (albeit briefly and stiffly). You won't catch Chuck Norris doing that.

Maybe it's my imagination, but the chief bad-news Ninja bears a striking resemblance to Moammar Gadhafi; maybe that's where he's been hiding all these months.

"American Ninja 2: The Confrontation" is rated R and contains graphic violence and some explicit language.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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