Know Your Role: John Fujioka
John Fujioka was pretty much a surrogate father for me as a kid. I watched the crap out of American Ninja and I feel like I’m pretty much a ninja just from soaking in all of its awesomeness. The symbols passed down by Fujioka have given my mind ultimate purpose: Gin, Retsu, Zai, Zen, and the mother flippin’ Kobudera. Ninja magic bitches!
Alongside Michael Dudikoff in American Ninja.
Fujioka, who was born in 1925 and is still kickin’ it today, took his first role in 1962 in the Vincent Price starrer Evils of Chinatown. He had several roles in hit shows The Rifleman, McHale’s Navy, and MASH. He appeared twice on The Six Million Dollar Man as ‘Kuroda’, a Japanese soldier who spent decades in the jungle, unaware that World War Two had ended. Does that back-story sound familiar to you? That’s because Fujioka had the same thing happen to him in American Ninja, only he spent several of those years training a young Michael Dudikoff to kick some serious ass. Ambush him with a bunch of ninjas; BAM, ass whooped! Steal his girlfriend; BAM, ass handed to you! Put a bucket on his head; BAM, aikido thrown to the ground like a punk! There isn’t much that the wise Shinyuki didn’t teach young Dudikoff.
Fujioka in The Rifleman and Six Million Dollar Man.
Fujioka also acted in some other sweet 80’s/90’s movies including Steel Dawn, American Samurai, American Yakuza and the hell-a cool Mortal Kombat. Now, the story and acting wasn’t always the greatest in his movies; I’ve seen better acting in a hostage video than what was in American Samurai, but they were always seriously entertaining. So as we salute John Fujioka today, for always playing the wise, old, Japanese dude, let us also remember that John will be with us indeed and in our hearts.