Taglines: The Orient created the world’s deadliest art. Now there’s an American master!
Joe Armstrong, an orphaned drifter will little respect for much other than martial arts, finds himself on an American Army base in The Philippines after a judge gives him a choice of enlistment or prison. On one of his first missions driving a convoy, his platoon is attacked by a group of rebels who try to steal the weapons the platoon is transporting and kidnap Patricia, the base colonel’s daughter, who happens to be along for the ride.
Joe rescues Patricia and gets her safely back to the base, but everyone else in the platoon is killed, leading his superiors to conclude that Joe is guilty of cowardice, collaboration or simple incompetence. At the same time, the rebel leader vows revenge against the serviceman who disrupted his plans, and sends an army of ninjas to assassinate him and bring back Patricia. If he wants to survive and save the girl, Joe’s going to have to draw on every last ounce of his training.
American Ninja is a 1985 American ninja action film produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’s Cannon Films. Directed by Sam Firstenberg, who specialized in this genre in the 1980s, the film stars Michael Dudikoff in the title role.
About the Story
Private Joe Armstrong (Michael Dudikoff) is conscripted into the U.S. Army by a judge, as an alternative to prison. Joe ends up fighting off the Black Star Order of ninjas while stationed in the Philippines. He saves Patricia Hickock (Judie Aronson) — daughter of Colonel William Hickock, Joe’s commanding officer — from a kidnapping attempt. Although the rest of Joe’s platoon is wiped out by the Black Star ninjas, Joe’s popularity with his fellow GIs takes a nosedive, even as he is targeted for revenge by the Black Star Master ninja (Tadashi Yamashita).
While performing chores on the base, Corporal Curtis Jackson (Steve James) goads Joe into a fight. Jackson proves no match for Joe’s ninjitsu expertise, which greatly impresses their fellow soldiers to boot. Shortly thereafter, Jackson discovers that Joe is an amnesiac; he remembers very little of his past, other than running with various street gangs and mastering a number of exotic martial arts. The grateful Patricia organizes a date for herself with Joe. Jackson and a third soldier, Charley Madison (Phil Brock), sneak Joe off the base.
They are caught during dinner by Sergeant Rinaldo, who is in the middle of a business meeting with black marketeer Victor Ortega (whose payroll the sergeant is on). To get Joe out of the way, Rinaldo leads him to an abandoned warehouse – ostensibly for the purpose of dropping off supplies. Black Star ninjas ambush Joe, who defeats all of them. Then Joe’s truck is stolen and he gives chase using a motorcycle. The truck driver runs Joe off the road, wiping out the bike; thinking Joe dead, the driver brings the truck to Ortega. Joe, however, hides under the truck and is brought to the heart of Ortega’s operation – which encompasses the Black Star ninja training camp.
Ortega is paying the Black Star Order for weapons stolen from the Army, which he then resells to the highest bidder. Joe is discovered by the ninjas-for-hire, but escapes with the aid of Ortega’s servant Shinyuki (John Fujioka). Joe returns to the base, where he is promptly arrested by military police who think he is fencing the arms. Jackson realizes that Joe has been set up, but his protests are wasted on Rinaldo.
American Ninja (1985)
Directed by: Sam Firstenberg
Starring: Michael Dudikoff, Steve James, Judie Aronson, Guich Koock, John Fujioka, Don Stewart, Tadashi Yamashita, Tony Carreon
Screenplay by: Paul De Mielche
Production Design by: Adrian Gorton
Cinematography by: Hanania Baer
Film Editing by: Andy Horvitch, Peter Lee-Thompson, Marcus Manton, Marcel Mindlin, Daniel Wetherbee
Costume Design by: Audrey M. Bansmer
Music by: Michael Linn
Distributed by: Cannon Films
Release Date: August 30, 1985