Bullet Points: American Samurai
It seems fitting on Throwback Thursday, to take a look at the first major film role for Mark Dacascos… American Samurai.
Dacascos plays opposite David Bradley in a movie that combines elements of Cannon’s American Ninja franchise and Bloodsport.
- The Premise: After surviving a plane crash that killed his parents, Andrew Collins is taken in by Tatsuya Sanga (John Fujioka) and taught the ways of the samurai. This creates a sibling rivalry with Sanga’s actual son, Kenjiro. As adults Andrew (David Bradley) is given the family samurai sword and Kenjiro joins the Yakuza and is thrown out of the family by his father. Kenjiro then uses his underworld connections to steal the sword he feels is rightfully his from Andrew. Eventually their paths cross when they both compete in a tournament of swordsmen in Turkey.
- Something Borrowed: As I mentioned, American Samurai combines elements from other Cannon movies. Like John Fujioka becoming the adoptive father of David Bradley’s character in American Samurai much like he became the adoptive father of Michael Dudikoff’s character in American Ninja. Then there’s the character Ed Harrison, a fellow American competing in the tournament that Drew befriends. He’s basically Ray Jackson from Bloodsport and I wouldn’t be surprise if they tried to get Donald Gibb for the role but had to settle on Rex Ryon. Even the director of American Ninja, Sam Firstenberg, is also the director of American Samurai. I guess if you are going to borrow, you may as well borrow things that work.
- Black Hole of Charisma: Unfortunately David Bradley was unable to borrow the charisma of Jean-Claude Van Damme or the charm of Michael Dudikoff (and nobody can duplicate the awesomeness of Dudikoff’s hair). Now some might call me a “Mark Dacascos Mark” but even in an early role for him, he shows more promise than Bradley. I have seen other David Bradley movies but not a ton of them. I don’t recall disliking his performance that much in American Ninja 3, but I know I couldn’t even get through American Ninja 4 (and that one brought back the beloved Dudikoff) so Bradley’s performance may have had something to do with that. And then there was American Ninja 5, which I immediately had a problem with when I found out it was American Ninja in name only so I’m not sure I can blame Bradley for that. But he is definitely a weak point in American Samurai and that’s not a good thing when you are the star of the movie.
- Romantic Sub Plot: The romance between Drew, who aside from being an American Samurai is also a journalist, and photographer Janet Ward (Valarie Trapp) may be the most convoluted romance ever seen in an action flick. They get off on the wrong foot when Janet is late, par for the course so far. Then while in Turkey investigating murders done by a sword (yes, the sword stolen from Drew!) they are kissing on the street, but that’s not enough to get the sparks going completely. Back at the hotel, where conveniently there was a problem with the reservations so they only have one room instead of two, Drew is sleeping on the couch while Janet gets the bed. After Drew has a nightmare and makes all sorts of noise, Janet wakes up and the next thing you know she’s inviting him to “sleep” in the bed with her. What changed her mind so quickly? The little orange bikini briefs he was wearing?
Fortunately the fight scenes in American Samurai help make up for some of the star’s deficiencies, especially the final battle between Bradley and Dacascos. This one is definitely geared towards the martial arts loving action movie fans. So if that doesn’t describe you, then you may want to skip this one, but if it does, American Samurai is worth checking out.