Wednesday, May 12, 2010

American Ninja V - 1/5

I will state right off the bat that I have always been a fan of the American Ninja series. Yes I know they aren't art but I enjoy the cheese ball action and bad performances. After viewing American Ninja 4, which was rather entertaining in its own B-grade way, I was looking forward to viewing American Ninja 5 (or as the opening credits say, American Ninja V).

The hooky cover art through me for a loop at first. It's just a lame picture of the characters in the film in stupid poses and mist added in to make it look "mystic". I was hoping the movie would be more entertaining than the cover art led on. Sadly it wasn't.

Here we get the "PG-13/Karate Kid wanna-be" version of American Ninja. David Bradley (American Ninja 3 & 4) returns but this time he plays a different character. He plays Joe Castle and not Sean Davidson from American Ninja 3 & 4. I found that very strange like this wasn't originally going to be an American Ninja sequel. One of Bradley's friends (the guy from the Karate Kid series no less) drops off his grandson (named Hiro) for Bradley to look after. Bradley reluctantly agrees and even takes the kid on a date he has that night. His date gets kidnapped by, take a wild guess, a bunch of ninja and he and the annoying Hiro kid go off to South America to rescue her. This is where the story rips-off American Ninja 2. The Ninja are using Bradley's 'girlfriend' (even though he only knew her for a day) as blackmail so her father will create a deadly gas. Snore, been there, done that, and better.

Another bummer is that now the great fight sequences are gone. The fights from the previous Ninja installments are more tamed down, kid friendly battle scenes with Hiro making stupid comments every now and then. It's as if the filmmakers were targeting fans of the Karate Kid series instead of fans the violent R-Rated American Ninja franchise. Mistake. To top it off, the music is some of the worst I have ever heard and belongs more to a made for cable Disney movie than a martial arts film.

If you can't tell, this is the Disney version of an American Ninja film. Hell I thought any minute I would see Herbie the Love Bug driving down the street to great our heroes. Come to find out this actually wasn't filmed to be part of the American Ninja franchise. It was filmed with the title American Dragons but the title was changed to American Ninja V before release. This explains why the film is a little more childish but it's no excuse for fooling fans of the franchise. Only buy this DVD if you're a series completist. Otherwise SKIP IT!

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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