September 27th, 2009

AMERICAN NINJA 3: BLOOD HUNT (1989) **

Sean (David Bradley) saw his dad killed at a martial arts tournament when he was a little boy.  After his father’s death, his manager takes Sean in and moves to Japan where he trains him to be a Ninja.  When his sensei gets kidnapped by a terrorist named Cobra (Mausoleum’s Marjoe Gortner); Sean teams up with his pal Jackson (series regular Steve James) to save him.  While infiltrating Cobra’s hideout, Sean gets injected with a deadly poison by his arch-nemesis.  He then must use his Ninja powers of mediation to purify his body of the toxin so he can Kung Fu the Hell out of Cobra.

 

You know, while I was writing this plot summary, something occurred to me:  Sean never rescues his sensei in the end!  He just roundhouses the villain to the face and then walks off into the sunset with Jackson.  I’ll just assume that he saved his sensei for the time being because what kind of American Ninja would he be if he didn’t.

 

American Ninja 3:  Blood Hunt doesn’t feel like a real American Ninja movie because of the conspicuous lack of Michael Dudikoff.  Steve James does return to remind you that it’s tenuously connected to the previous films.  That’s like making Indiana Jones 3 without Harrison Ford and calling it Short Round and the Last Crusade though. 

 

David Bradley is an OK substitute for Michael Dudikoff I suppose.  At all times he looks like he has an ice cream headache and doesn’t have much in the way of screen charisma.  He’s not bad in the fighting department though so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  In fact I actually kind of missed Bradley a little bit when he was knocked out of commission by the deadly toxin.  I mean he’s not great or anything but when a good chunk of the flick was just James, the dumbass blonde karate chopper, and the female Ninja trying to rescue him, the movie really falters and begins circling the drain.

 

On the action front, I will say there are a lot of Kung Fu fight scenes in this movie.  They aren’t really well choreographed or anything but there is a lot of them, so that’s good.  I mean there’s an underwater Ninja fight scene, which is something you don’t see everyday.

 

The action that doesn’t revolve around dudes in black pajamas is thoroughly inexcusable.  The inane motorized hang gliding scene has to be one of the sorriest action “sequences” ever devised.  The people flying the mechanized gliders are clearly stunt doubles and no attempt is made to make them look like the actors as they wear helmets and masks that cover their face.  Their dialogue is also horribly dubbed in, which is a further tip-off.  The editing in this scene is particularly atrocious.  The scene concludes when the glider lands in the back of the truck but we never see it actually land.  All we get is one lousy shot of its wheel landing on the bed and that’s it!  I hope the makers of those stupid hang gliders paid a pretty penny for their gratuitous product placement.

 

As dumb as much of American Ninja 3:  Blood Hunt is, I can’t bring myself to completely hate any movie in which it’s main character cures himself of a deadly disease solely through the power of meditation while being surrounded by a beam of white angelic light.  That shit had me in fucking stitches.  And wait until you hear the song, “The Cobra Strikes” that plays over the end credits.

 

Bradley returned the next year for American Ninja 4:  The Annihilation.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN (2009) *

You know the Stephen King TV movie Sometimes They Come Back?  Well sometimes King’s movies come back too.  Like The Shining and Carrie before it, Children of the Corn has been remade as a lackluster Made for TV movie.  The original wasn’t so hot to begin with but it was sure as shit better than this garbage.  It’s even worse than any of the six Corny sequels that followed.  Amazingly, King co-wrote the screenplay for this mess, which may be a sign that the man probably needs to hang up the word processor for good. 

 

If you’ve seen the original Children of the Corn, I’ll spare you the plot details and just tell you how this one differs.  It now takes place in the 70's.  The hero is a Nam vet with an African-American wife.  There is no cool scene where the Corny Kids massacre diner patrons.  The hero dude has Nam flashbacks while being chased by the Kids in the corn.  Both the hero and the wife get killed and turned into scarecrows.  (Oops, SPOILER WARNING.) 

 

Now I’m going to tell you the biggest change.  It’s one that is infuriating.  It will make your blood boil.  Ready?  We never get to see He Who Walks Behind the Rows!  You know, the giant groundhog monster the Kids all pray to?  The one who travels underground like Bugs Bunny going to Pismo Beach?  The one that actually made the original worth a damn?  Not here.  Why would King spend two hours building up HWWBTR and then not show him?  That’s like making a Hellraiser movie with no Pinhead. 

 

Basically the first half of the movie is nothing but the irritating couple arguing in a car.  The second half is nothing but the hero fella running through the cornfield.  The only good part about this version is the awesome scene where Isaac, the leader of the Corny Kids tells a couple of his followers “The time for fertilization has come!” and makes them fornicate in the middle of church while all the underage kids rally them on.  Other than that, this movie is just one big unflushable turd that will stink up the bathroom of your mind for days to come.

 

Folks, they’ve made the same story 8 times and they still haven’t gotten it right yet.