Wednesday, October 14, 2015

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation

Following AMERICAN NINJA and AVENGING FORCE, action screen team Michael Dudikoff and Steve James are back in action in AMERICAN NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION. The sequel is even better than the original AMERICAN NINJA, thanks to a more interesting villain: a drug kingpin named Leo the Lion played in a hammy performance by Gary Conway (LAND OF THE GIANTS).

The plot, credited to Conway and fellow actor James Booth (AVENGING FORCE), finds the Lion kidnapping U.S. Marines, cloning them, and creating a master race of ninja super-warriors. Army Rangers Joe Armstrong (Dudikoff) and Curtis Jackson (James) are sent to the Caribbean (played by South Africa) to investigate the disappearances and meet Alicia Sanborn (Michelle Botes), whose scientist father was also kidnapped by the Lion and forced to take part in his captor’s DNA experiments.

Back in the director’s chair is Sam Firstenberg, who piloted Dudikoff and James through the action in AMERICAN NINJA and the great AVENGING FORCE, which came between the NINJAs. With the steady hands of editor Michael Duthie, second unit director BJ Davis, and fight coordinator Mike Stone lending assistance, Firstenberg ups the action quotient from the first NINJA, rarely letting more than a few minutes pass without a chase or protracted martial arts battle.

Dudikoff and James play well off each other, despite — or perhaps because of — their radically different acting and fighting styles. James’ part is wisely beefed up to make him more of an equal to Dudikoff rather than just the sidekick. And on a level by himself is Conway, who must have trouble typing the screenplay while rubbing his hands together in anticipation of saying the juicy monologues he wrote for himself. It’s an overly ripe performance by an actor who often looked stolid on-camera, but Conway is perfectly tuned in to the story’s comic book elements.

No comments: