Is an American Ninja film still an American Ninja film if it doesn’t feature the American Ninja?
That is the question posed by American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt. Michael Dudikoff, who played Joe Armstrong in the first two films, is nowhere to be found. Instead, he has been replaced by Doug Bradley. Fortunately, the movie does not try to pass Bradley off as being Joe Armstrong. Instead, he is a new character, CIA agent Sean Davidson. Sean’s father was a martial arts champion who was killed by gangster while Sean watched. Sean later went to Japan where he was trained in the ways of the ninja. Sean is an American ninja, even if he’s not the American Ninja.
He also happens to be best friends with Jackson (Steve James), who previously appeared in the first two films and who never comments on the coincidence of having two best friends who both happen to be American ninjas. Jackson, along with sidekick Dexter (Evan J. Klisser) and lady ninja Chan Lee (Michele B. Chan), team up with Sean after Sean’s sensei is kidnapped by a terrorist known as The Cobra (Marjoe Gortner). The Cobra, who has a team of his own ninjas, has developed a poison that he wants to test on Sean.
The plot makes as much sense as the previous two American Ninja films and, somehow, everyone forgets about finding the sensei before the movie ends. As an actor, Doug Bradley is no Michael Dudikoff (which is saying something) but he’s good in the fight scenes and that is the only thing that really matters. The whole film is nearly worth it just to see former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner in the role of The Cobra. Dudikoff is missed but at least his absence meant that Steve James got to do more in American Ninja 3 than he did in the first two films. Sadly, just three years after this film’s release, James died as the result of pancreatic cancer. He was 41 years old.