Duuuuuuuuude! The American Ninja is back!
In this sequel to the first American Ninja, ninja Joe (Michael Dudikoff) and sidekick Jackson (Steve James) are now Army Rangers. They have been assigned to provide security at an embassy on a small Caribbean island. At first, it seems like an easy gig but then Joe discovers that a large number of Marines have recently vanished. According to the only witness, they were abducted by men dressed in black. Joe and Jackson know what that means!
The Marines are being set up by a traitor in their own ranks, Tommy Taylor (played by Miguel Ferrer look-alike Jonathan Pienaar). Taylor is being blackmailed by a master criminal known as, I kid you not, Leo the Lion (Gary Conway, who also co-wrote the script). Leo is brainwashing the Marines, shooting them up with all sorts of drugs and transforming them into zombie-style ninjas.
Doing away with any pretense towards reality, American Ninja 2 is pure comic book action. A bad guy even says, “It’s the American Ninja!” when he sees Joe. It’s a strange film. On the one hand, it is full of goofy humor and it even has a streetwise kid sidekick, all things that would indicate that it was made to appeal to kids. On the other hand, the first cut was reportedly so violent that it got a dreaded X-rating. The final version still has enough impalings, decapitations, and throwing stars to the head to earn its R.
With its combination of nonstop action and Steve James one-liners, American Ninja 2 is both a worthy sequel and a worthy addition to the Cannon library. Still, it bothers me that at least a few of the ninjans that Joe and Jackson killed were probably just brainwashed Marines. That amounts to a lot of innocent victims being killed by our heroes.
The life of an American ninja is never an easy one.