The Series Project: American Ninja (Part 1)

American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (dir. Cedric Sundstrom, 1989)

AN3 posterSo Dudikoff elected to sit this one out. Can't say I blame him. American Ninja 3 is relatively shoddy. It does possess some pretty wonderfully crazy plot elements, but overall the lack of a lead as charismatic (is that an appropriate word to use when describing Michael Dudikoff?) as Dudikoff leaves the movie feeling kind of flat. The lead this time is first-time actor David Bradley, who looks an awful lot like Jeff Fahey, but less handsome. He can fight well enough, but his character, named Sean Davidson, is a vague nonentity. What's more, he has none of the near-chemistry with Steve James.

The fun stuff: The villain, named The Cobra, is played by none other than Marjoe Gortner, B-movie luminary and famed circuit-riding evangelist. The cobra's plan is simple: He will host an international karate tournament, attracting all the best fighters in the world. He will kidnap the winners, and use their DNA to grow his very own race of superninjas. The word “superninjas” is actually used in the movie, which pleases me to no end. The scenes of Gortner giving speeches about the technological futures of terrorism, all while standing in front of some really wonderfully fakey-looking lab equipment is a relaxing and meditative sight.

AN3 James

The Cobra also has a super hench-ninja named Chan Lee (Michele Chan) who not only kicks many asses, but who is also a master of disguise. Twice in the movie, she disguises herself as a secretary, played by a different actress (Adrienne Pearce). That Pearce and Chan both hold their own as fighters lends a weird verisimilitude to the notion of a superninja chick who can wear super-advanced rubber masks to look like other people. Chan is also actually a good soul; when she finds out that her boss is up to criminal malfeasance, she defects, and joins Curtis and Davidson in their quest to infiltrate and destroy the bad guy's lair.

What else? There is an exciting foot chance through a public square (the film was shot in South Africa, although no dialogue is included to imply that). Bradley does have ninja training, and does good ninja fight. At one point he's injected with a debilitating virus, and is forced to fight for the antidote. There's a lot of protracted happenstance in American Ninja 3, but it's not quite as much fun as The Confrontation. I suppose they can't all be classics.

AN3 teamup

That's where I'm going to leave it for this week. Next week, be sure to return for the thrilling conclusion of the American Ninja series, wherein I'll discuss the proud return of Michael Dudikoff, and his subsequent teaming up with David Bradley in American Ninja 4: The Annihilation. I'll also talk about American Ninja V, which stars David Bradley, but playing a different ninja. There is some debate as to whether or not part V counts as canon. All I need to know is if it counts as Cannon.  

Witney Seibold is the head film critic for Nerdist, and a contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. You can read his weekly articles Trolling, and The Series Project, and follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.