By: John M Jerva
In 1985, the action film boom was full on with legendary names like Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Norris delivering high-octane action films in the movie theaters which seemed like every week and this was one of the greatest times to be an action fan with films like Commando, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Invasion U.S.A lighting up excited audiences everywhere. It was truly a great time to be alive and most importantly an action film aficionado.
Along with the stellar blockbusters, one lesser known movie at the time was released on August 30th, 1985. The film was called American Ninja and it starred a new up and coming action star named Michael Dudikoff who played the role of Army Private Joe Armstrong who was anything but ordinary as he was the first official American Ninja who was trained in the ancient arts of the legendary assassins. Directed by Sam Firstenberg who himself was starting to direct in the industry the film pretty much came and went from the theaters but in time, thanks in part to home video, it would grow to become one of the most epic action films to come out of the 80’s. I was one of the lucky ones to see the film on the big screen and I do believe I played my VHS copy until it fell apart.
Official Synopsis: In the torrid heart of the Philippine jungle, a humble US Army private suddenly develops legendary skills and stealth. Believing he is the possessor of ancient martial artistry, he takes on the fearsome Black Ninja in a final duel.
From Cannon Films and prolific producers Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus, the film was locked and loaded with incredible action set pieces and blistering martial arts combat. Dudikoff was a sure fire action star in the making and also starring the late, great Steve James, the movie delivered the Ninja action goods. It certainly filled the quotient for fisticuffs and firepower and was essential viewing on a Saturday night especially when it hit home video. Throw in martial arts legend Tadashi Yamashita as the dreaded Black Star Ninja and you have one of the greatest action delights to come out of that great era when explosions, firepower and lethal hand to hand carnage ruled the cinema!
39 years later, American Ninja, along with its sequels, are still talked about and viewed among serious action film fanatics, like myself, and now we have a great BTS video with interviews from Firstenberg and Dudikoff as well as other cast members like Yamashita, co-star Judie Aronson as well as stunt coordinator Steven Lambert as the deliver priceless stories about what went into making this piece of action cinema history. It was certainly a interesting production and these stories are truly epic as they are told by those who lived it. There will never be anything like Cannon Films again and this film is a tried and true example of that.
The video comes courtesy of Firstenberg himself and it is required viewing for any serious action film buff especially those of us who lived and breathed action cinema awesomeness back in the 80’s. The deadliest art of the Orient is now in the hands of an American!
On a side note, I had the distinct honor to interview Sam Firstenberg a few years back and of course we talked about American Ninja as well as his other films like the equally epic Revenge of the Ninja with Sho Kosugi! Check out the exclusive interview here: https://action-flix.com/2019/05/31/302/
Enough talk! Check out the great video below and learn more about one of the 80’s most epic action films!