We open in an army base with “A-Team”-
esque music playing, where a bunch of G.I.s
are playing hacky-sack. Really? The hell kind
of hippy base is this? They invite New Guy –
the hilariously named Joe Armstrong – to
play, but he’s too busy playing with his
butterfly knife and being a lone wolf.
They’re all assigned to a truck convoy, which
is doubling as a taxi service for the Colonel’s
Hot Daughter. Yeah, I’m sure that’s
regulation. They head out into the jungle, and
it takes a whole minute of screentime before
|The A-Team: Trend-setters.
the convoy is hijacked. Bizarrely, the sergeant orders his men to stand down. But when one of
the hijackers shows the Colonel’s Hot Daughter his pimphand, Joe shows off his ka-ra-te!
Hey, can we take a minute to acknowledge that they got Mr. Schuester from “Glee” to be the
|Okay, so it's not really the same guy... but it could have been.
All this karate action is being overseen by an honest-to-goodness ninja. Unfortunately for the
G.I.s, this ninja is accompanied by a whole heap of his buddies. A few soldiers get hewed down
and the others taken prisoner as Joe and the Colonel’s Hot Daughter run off into the jungle.
Time for some Romancing the Stone Lite! Joe shows his way with women as he chops the heels
off of the CHD’s pumps and slashes her skirt for impromptu shorts. CHD is eight kinds of pissed
until she gets a look at Joe’s washboard abs.
The two return to base, and the survivors are happy to throw Joe under the bus for acting like John
Wayne. “We left all the glory boys back in Vietnam!” Wow. Also, no one seems to be particularly
surprised or alarmed that the “rebels” are backed up by frickin’ ninjas.
One of the surviving soldiers, the awesomely named Curtis Jackson, picks a fight with Joe and
gets tossed around for his efforts. Curtis declares Joe “all
right,” and thus begins a beautiful bromance: We see Joe
and Curtis walking around base with arms around each
other, holding hands, tussling shirtless… Curtis even lets
Joe borrow his crotch rocket to go out on a date with CHD.
A few twists and turns and sluggish ninja traps later, Joe
learns about an entire gun-running ring. It’s up to Joe, his
girlfriend CHD and his other girlfriend, Curtis, to make things
There’s a great moment near the end, when the movie is
clearly building up to the climax with Joe sneaking around
the Bad Guy’s base (which looks like an outdoor American
Gladiator arena) when he… stops to have tea with his old sensei. “The time has come for your
final lesson,” says the sensei. The very next shot implies that the final lesson consists of naming
various ninja weapons.
|There will be a test later.
What follows, for those of us who had the
gumption to stick with this film, is the biggest,
most ‘80sly awesome ninja battle. There are
like a million-zillion ninjas, and everyone is
kung fu fighting! The evil head ninja fights with
I was so giddy, I felt young again.
How awesome is this climatic battle? So
awesome that the main villain is about to
escape in his helicopter with CHD when he
tells the pilot to hold up… so he can watch the
awesome ninja action.
The final shot has American Ninja Joe,
demasked, looking into the camera – there
may or may not have been an American Bald
Eagle on his shoulder, I could be making that
up – with tears in his eyes. I can only assume
that Joe is a little emotional thinking about
how ninjawesome that climatic battle was.
Looking for a second opinion? Fine, be like that. Check out the review of
American Ninja over at
COOL AWESOME MOVIES
...as well as a review of American Ninja 2 over at BADMOVIES.ORG.
American Ninja was also the subject of a recent edition of LAIR OF THE