10 Things You Didn’t Know About American Ninja 2
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation is an example of a sequel that is as good (possibly even better) than the original.
The American Ninja 2: The Confrontation Blu-ray release is an example of the type of quality product that Olive Films puts out on a regular basis.
The Blu-ray release from Olive is packed full of special features including a commentary track with Director Sam Firstenberg and a mini-doc entitled An American Ninja in Capetown that features interviews with Firstenberg, Michael Dudikoff, Avi Lerner, Gary Conway and stunt co-ordinator BJ Davis.
And it was the Blu-ray special features that served as my source material as I compiled 10 Things You Didn’t Know About American Ninja 2: The Confrontation…
1. Director Sam Firstenberg’s original vision for American Ninja 2 would have picked up with Joe Armstrong (Michael Dudikoff) and Curtis Jackson (Steve James) after their Army days were behind them. Sam’s idea had Armstrong and Jackson running a martial arts school in an urban setting. But when Sam found out the sequel was going to be shot in South Africa, he knew it would be extremely difficult to recreate the look and feel of a big American city in South Africa, so they went in a different direction.
2. Many of the on location shots in the movie were filmed in Boulders Beach, South Africa. Boulders Beach is a popular tourist stop because of a colony of African penguins that settled there in 1982.
3. The interior of the Blind Beggar Bar was actually a set built in a warehouse in Johannesburg.
4. The woman that Curtis Jackson hits on at the cocktail party was actually Steve James’ real life girlfriend Nava Halimi. The two initially met when Nava was an extra on the movie The Delta Force. Shortly after filming wrapped on American Ninja 2, Steve and Nava were married… it was a true Cannon love story!
5. The beach brawl scene early in the movie ends in spectacular fashion when our heroes Armstrong and Jackson jump off the rocks down to the water below where their new Marine buddies are waiting in a speedboat… there was one problem, Steve James did not know how to swim and to compound the problem, James’ stunt double did not know how to swim either!
6. There is an infamous shot that made the final cut of the movie where Joe Armstrong and Curtis Jackson are being briefed by Captain “Wild Bill” Woodward where it is clear that the Joe Armstrong in the scene is not Michael Dudikoff, but instead Dudikoff’s double Ed Anders. The shot only called for Armstrong and Jackson to be shot from behind, which is why Sam Firstenberg advised an under the weather Michael Dudikoff to go back to his hotel to rest. After “Wild Bill” dismisses Armstrong and Jackson, the two turn around and that is when Ed Anders face is clearly visible on camera, something that was obviously not caught in the editing process.
7. American Ninja 2: The Confrontation was the movie that began the relationship between producer Avi Lerner and Cannon Films.
8. Gary Conway wrote the screenplay for American Ninja 2. Conway also played one of the main villains, Leo “The Lion” Burke. Once filming was underway, James Booth, who had gotten friendly with Sam Firstenberg when the two worked together on Avenging Force, was brought on set to help shape the dialogue and make any necessary script changes allowing Conway to focus on his role as “The Lion”.
9. The other villain of note in American Ninja 2 was Tojo Ken. Tojo was played by Mike Stone, who also served as the martial arts choreographer for the movie. It was Stone’s idea for Tojo Ken to have a scar on his face. An interesting tidbit about Mike Stone prior to his work in the film industry, Stone competed in professional karate tournaments and served as a martial arts instructor. Stone’s most famous pupil was none other than Elvis Presley. Stone and Elvis had a nasty falling out after Elvis discovered that Stone was having an affair with Priscilla Presley!
10. Most of the supporting cast was made up of local South African actors with only a few actors traveling from the United States to South Africa including Larry Poindexter who provided some comic relief with his portrayal of Sgt. Charlie McDonald and Jeff Celantano who played Captain “Wild Bill” Woodward, the commanding officer at the Marine base that Armstrong and Jackson were sent to assist.