Made two years after the first film proved quite successful, the 1987 Cannon Films production of American Ninja 2: The Confrontation catches up with Joe (Michael Dudikoff) and Curtis (Steve James), two of America's finest and deadliest military men. This time around they're sent by the brass to the tropics to find out what happened to a group of missing Marines. They arrive and waste no time beginning their investigation, which brings them to the attention of Leo 'The Lion' Burke (Gary Conway), the local drug lord. He's none too happy that they're poking around his base of operations and so he uses his connection to keep them away. Given that he's got pretty much any government official that matters on his payroll, it's not so difficult for him to make things tough on our heroes.
Before too long, Joe's having to fight his way through some unusually tough characters. Before long, he and Curtis start putting together some of the pieces of this puzzle and learn that Leo has kidnapped a scientist named Professor Sanbourne (Ralph Draper).Why? To force him into creating super ninjas that will make Leo pretty much unstoppable. Joe and Curtis get friendly with Sanbourne's foxy daughter Alicia (Michelle Botes), who helps them to close in on Leo's thugs. As they get closer, the details they uncover about the operation come to light, and the mystery of the missing Marines that sent them here in the first place starts to unravel…
This is seriously goofy stuff but hot damn if it isn't a whole lot of fun. The type of movie that could only have come out of Cannon Films in the eighties, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation cares not for logic or sense but is instead focused almost entirely on taking things over the top. This time around Joe and Curtis aren't just fighting regular ninjas, they're fighting super crazy cloned ninjas and on top of that they've got a scientist and some Marines to save! When you're that busy it doesn't leave much time for things like plot development, so let the logic gaps be and enjoy this one for the ninety minutes of deliriously dated action entertainment that it is!
Shot in and around Cape Town, the scenery here is quite nice. The whole thing takes place in some nice, sunny locals and this gives the film some appreciated polish. On top of that, all of the extras in the film seem to be either super models or bodybuilders, meaning that there's loads of bikini clad babes and beefy hunks strutting about. The fashions, the hair styles, the wardrobe (Dudikoff spends a good amount of time here in a Body Glove shirt) and, yeah, the attitudes on display, they all scream ‘eighties' in big, garish letters at the top of their metaphorical lungs. But then, that's half the fun. All of this is well shot. The cinematography here is pretty good and the camera work is actually really solid. There's a bit of gloss to all of this that makes it fun to watch.
As to the acting, it's a bit better than the first movie actually. Steve James still steals scenes from Dudikoff on a pretty regular basis. The guy just has a lot of charisma and on top of that, he's more convincing in the fight scenes. Dudikoff, however, fares better here than in the first movie. He's still pretty wooden but the script almost plays to his strengths in that regard. He doesn't get loads of dialogue and his character is a bit more of the strong silent type here. Gary Conway is a blast as the heavy, he's clearly having a good time playing the evil drug lord out to create an army of ninjas, while Michelle Botes is just fine as the token love interest for Joe/hot daughter of the kidnapped scientist. The whole thing has a very ‘comic book' vibe to it but it works. This is a fast paced and deliriously entertaining movie that is every bit as good as the first film.The Blu-ray:
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer from in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85.1. Colors are reproduced quite well here and they look consistently natural, as do skin tones. Some shots are a little softer than others but that would appear to be how the movie was shot and the vast majority of the movie is pretty tight looking. Detail is solid and a nice step up from past DVD editions, while the image is remarkably clean from start to finish. You'll notice film grain, as you should, but no serious print damage, whatever elements were used were obviously in good shape. Black levels are pretty solid here and there are no problems at all with any edge enhancement or noise reduction. No complaints here!.Sound:
The only audio option for the feature is an English language Stereo track presented in DTS-HD 2.0 lossless format. There are no alternate language options, although English subtitles are provided. There are no issues here, this track is just fine. Balance is good, depth and range are solid and the dialogue and score both sound quite nice. No issues with any hiss or distortion to note and there's some strong weight behind the effects present in the action scenes.Extras:
Extras on this disc start off with a commentary track from director Sam Firstenberg moderated by Elijah Drenner. Firstenberg talks about this film with plenty of enthusiasm, noting how he mad Avenging Force with Dudikoff and James after the first American Ninja film, but how the success of that first film pretty much dictated that Cannon would want a sequel, particularly when Avenging Force failed to bring in the ticket sales that American Ninja did. He talks about shooting in and around Cape Town for this sequel, his thoughts on the storyline, his relationship with leading man Dudikoff as well as the other key cast members, staging some of the more intense action sequences and quite a bit more. Firstenberg comes across as a pretty nice guy and he's a good storyteller, while Drenner does a fine job moderating the track and keeping him on target.
The disc also includes a featurette entitled American Ninja In Cape Town. This seventeen minute piece is made up mostly of interviews with Firstenberg, Dudikoff and writer Gerry Conway, although producer Avi Lerner and stunt coordinator BJ Davis also show up on camera to chime in on what their involvement in the film entailed. There's a fair bit of talk about shooting in South Africa, following up the successful first picture, the fight scenes and stunts and more.
Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.Final Thoughts:
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation is a worthy follow up to the first movie. James and Dudikoff are in fine form, the action is plentiful and well-staged and the entertainment value is high. Olive has done a great job bringing this to Blu-ray in a nice presentation with some strong supplements. Highly recommended!