Bullet Points: American Ninja 2: The Confrontation
Cannon Films gave the world plenty of movies with ninjas. Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III: The Domination… but they also gave us the American Ninja, Michael Dudikoff! The original American Ninja launched Michael Dudikoff’s action movie career and it spawned several sequels including American Ninja 2: The Confrontation.
Both Michael Dudikoff and Steve James reprise their roles from the first film. This time Sgt. Joe Armstrong (Dudikoff) and Sgt. Curtis Jackson (James) are sent on a special mission to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Marines guarding the United States Embassy on an unnamed island in the Caribbean.
- Three Guys Go Into A Bar: Our story begins with three marines enjoying some downtime and visiting a local bar known as the Blind Beggar Bar. Unfortunately the good times don’t last long as they are greeted by a group of local thugs. The thugs work over two of the three marines, while the third marine, Tommy Taylor, hides. Once the marines are down and out, some ninjas show up and take the beaten men away. Toto, a young boy/entrepreneur, sees it all go down while hiding behind a pinball machine.
- Enter the American Ninja: Marines Tommy Taylor and Charlie McDonald are sent to the airport to pick up some replacements for their two missing Marines, but they are shocked to learn instead of Marines, they are getting a pair of Army Rangers in the form of Joe Armstrong and Curtis Jackson. Taylor and McDonald take Armstrong and Jackson to their commanding officer, affectionately known as Wild Bill (not to be confused with Wild Bill of G.I. Joe fame). Wild Bill briefs Joe and Jackson on the disappearances including the info he got from Toto about the mysterious men in black (not to be confused with Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones).
- Working Title: Between the water skiing, the Hawaiian shirts and the bikini clad women, one has to wonder if the working title to this project was American Ninja 2: Trouble In Paradise at one point. But Joe quickly discovers that it is not all fun in the sun when their boat engine cuts off mysteriously. Armstrong suspects Tommy Taylor and tells Curtis to keep his eye on him. Joe then decides to explore the small island nearby and that’s when the ninjas show up! If you ever had the desire to see Michael Dudikoff take on multiple ninjas while wearing a Body Glove wet suit, then this is the movie for you! Some quality ninja on ninja action ensues, with Jackson eventually getting involved. But there is one ninja who keeps his distance the entire time. Joe and this distant ninja lock eyes at one point but you know it is way too early in the movie for those two to be fighting.
- Following Orders: Tommy Taylor is instructed by his evil boss to bring Joe to the Blind Beggar Bar. And if you remember, when Tommy brings his fellow soldiers to the Blind Beggar Bar, he manages to be the only one who leaves on his own volition. Taylor creeps into Joe’s room and tells Joe he’s in trouble and he needs help, He asks Joe to meet him at the Blind Beggar Bar tomorrow. Joe takes the bait and receives the customary welcome from the locals, Joe responds by breaking arms left and right. After dispatching the riffraff, Joe asks the bartender where Tommy is. Bartender directs him upstairs. This leads to round two with the local thugs and provides Joe a chance to deliver and impressive kick through a door! At this point Joe has had enough and he wants some answers! Tommy tells Joe about his boss Leo “The Lion” Burke. The Lion amassed his fortune in the drug trade and is now doing biological testing (hence the reason he needed some able bodied Marines) Tommy had no choice but to do The Lion’s bidding as he has his wife. Before he can tell Joe anymore some ninjas show up and kill him.
- Say What?: Wild Bill calls Joe and Jackson into his office, with him is Inspector Singh of the local police. Wild Bill informs Joe and Jackson that Tommy Taylor has been killed. The Inspector’s theory is that Tommy was involved in the local drug trade and that’s what got him killed, but Joe and Jackson believe he was being blackmailed. When Wild Bill asks how they know that, Joe tells him that Taylor told him. Jackson then talks about how Taylor’s wife was kidnapped and taken to Blackbeard Island. The Inspector dismisses this theory as rubbish and says Blackbeard Island is owned by Professor Sanborn and that the Professor would have no reason to blackmail Taylor. Wild Bill wants to go check out Blackbeard Island, but the Inspector shoots him down saying he would need a special warrant from the Governor and if he even asked, the Governor would be outraged. Frustrated by the Inspector, the kidnappings and the ninjas Wild Bill says what any man in his position would say… “This is really beginning to get on my tits!”.
- Party Up: Wild Bill tells Joe and Jackson about the reception that will be held at the Governor’s mansion and not only are they required to be there, they will need to go dressed as Marines to avoid any confusion (Marines guard Embassies not Army Rangers) All the luminaries will be at this party, the Governor, Ambassador Scruggs, Inspector Singh… even Leo Burke and his assistant Tojo Ken. The Sarge gives Joe and Jackson some sage advice regarding the party…
- Party Crasher: Joe recognizes Tojo Ken as the ninja in the distance from earlier in the film. Inspector Singh confronts Joe saying witnesses saw him go into Tommy Taylor’s room just prior to Taylor’s death. He wants to take Joe in and ask him some very serious question… but before he can do that, a woman shows up at the party and confronts Leo Burke. She pleas with the Governor and Inspector Singh that Burke is a drug dealer and a criminal and that he has taken her father hostage. The police take her away. Wild Bill instructs Joe and Jackson to help her out and the chase is on!
- Deja Vu: Instead of taking the hysterical woman to the police station she is taken to the Blind Beggar Bar, when Joe, Jackson and Charlie enter the bar they receive the typical Blind Beggar welcome. We get another quality bar fight with a healthy dose of comic relief thrown in for good measure. The woman runs out and Tojo Ken comes in. Tojo and Joe lock eyes… but it is still too early for this fight to take place.
- Toto Knows Best: Joe ascertains that the woman is the key to this whole mess, but he needs to find her and find her fast. So he turns to Toto for help. Toto leads Joe to the woman’s home (and charges him a $3 service fee). Joe knocks on the door, she opens the door while holding a shot gun really continuing the trend of non-hospitality. Joe says he wants to talk to her, she invites him in, but before he can accept her invitation those damn ninjas show up again. This time we get a broken leg, a throwing star to the head and a ninja on fire! Toto shows up driving a pick up truck and Joe in the woman escape. (Toto once again charges a $3 service fee) We finally learn the woman’s name is Alicia Sanborn, daughter of Professor Sanborn. Before we can learn much more, the ninjas show up again but we get the pay off for their persistence as we get to see a ninja dragged behind a truck and an explosive finale. Joe now asks Toto to deliver a message to Jackson to let him know he’s headed to Blackbeard Island, suddenly Toto’s fee jumps from $3 to $5!
- Cure For Cancer: We learn that after losing his wife to cancer, Professor Sanborn dedicated his life to finding the cure for cancer. When the Professor’s funding was cut off, The Lion showed up and offered the Professor a lot of money to continue his research. So close to a breakthrough, the Professor agreed, but instead of a cure for cancer, The Lion has the Professor use his knowledge and skills for evil and produce an army of bio-engineered ninjas!
- Motivational Speaker: The Lion may give the most inspirational speech given by a drug lord in motion picture history as he unveils his super ninjas, the ultimate insurance policy for his drug trade empire. This is followed by a super ninja demonstration. Tojo Ken then shows up and kills a bunch of super ninjas… which I wouldn’t think is good for a product launch, but maybe that’s me. Anyway all this is followed by a tour of the facility including a stop at the lab where we can all learn how super ninjas are made.
- The Main Event: With Jackson, Wild Bill and the rest of the Marines infiltrating the Super Ninja factory and Professor Sanborn insuring that his scientific discoveries don’t cause anymore harm it is now time for the match up that had a movie long build. It is now time for Joe Armstrong and Tojo Ken to go one on one. Would you believe me if I told you a shotgun is involved in a ninja battle?
All in all, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation maintains the quality of the original, a rare trait for any sequel and something American Ninja 3 (where Dudikoff is replaced David Bradley) or American Ninja 4 (where Dudikoff returns and teams up with Bradley) can not boast.
How popular was the American Ninja franchise? Well it was popular enough that they slapped the American Ninja name on a fifth film that is American Ninja in name only, even though it starred David Bradley (as a completely different character than he portrayed in parts 3 and 4).
My suggestion avoid “American Ninja 5” at all costs but do yourself a favor and watch American Ninja 2: The Confrontation!