American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989)

American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt was the martial arts movie where Michael Dudikoff finally received all the accolades he deserved! His rugged good looks, his sturdy and unforced use of a couple of different kicks and punches rivaled only by the soothing monotone he delivered his occasional lines of dialogue in, and of course his most awesome ninja skill of all, his epic hair do constantly reminding the audience of the Dude’s vaguely surfer-like kung fu greatness. And it’s to the Dude’s everlasting credit that he accomplishes all this in a movie he never even appears in!

The Dude sits out this second sequel to his trademark (but not really that great) flick, according to some sources because he didn’t want to take a bunch of crap for shooting another movie in South Africa again. And the guys behind the scenes who make all the magic on the big screen happen respond by giving the American Ninja audience something called David Bradley!

To his credit, David ends up starring in just as many American Ninja movies (3) as the Dude did as well as has his own completely unknown almost cool sounding movie series (Cyborg Cop and Cyborg Cop II, but like the Dude, Bradley did not appear in the second sequel of that series!). He also seems to actually know some martial arts whereas The Dude seemed to be limited to what Steve James could teach him during down time on the set.

What David lacks though is pretty much everything else. While he is certainly ripped in this movie, with his penchant for constantly sweating and a haircut that is the opposite of what “haircut” is supposed to mean, he resembled a guy handing out bowling shoes on a particularly hot league night at the local alley. Worse, he has all the charisma of a chipped bowling pin and the acting acumen of a scuffed bowling ball.

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Perhaps realizing they’d hired a guy adept at delivering great looking kicks and nothing else beyond perpetual flop sweat, they team him up with a guy who is even worse named Dex, who quickly is called Douche by the audience because of his annoying comic relief and completely unconvincing fighting skills.

It’s like director Cedric Sundstrom thought we wouldn’t notice how dull and damp Bradley was because we’d be too busy hating Douche! And he was mostly right! (The strangest side effect of all this is that it made the returning Steve James seem like he was Bruce Lee, Robert De Niro, and Alec Guinness all rolled into one!)

And though there wasn’t really any sort of story that could have saved David Bradley from himself (see Cyborg Cop and Blood Warriors for more proof), he got exactly zero help in that department on American Ninja 3. Since writer Garry Conway also helped script American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, it probably isn’t that surprising that the stories are so similar: Steve James teams up with an American Ninja to stop a bad guy doing evil experiments and backed up by an army of ninjas.

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Sure, the story was fairly entertaining the first time around with the Dude, the crazy CO of the embassy marines, the constant bar fights, a tiny bit of humor, and Steve James giving it his all the entire way through, but this time the final battle has David Bradley fighting a middle aged Marjoe Gortner!

And the fight occurs just after Bradley uses his ninja super powers to rid his body of the super nasty virus Gortner (as the Cobra – another dumb bit lifted from the previous movie where the bad guy was the Lion) had injected him with! I was pleading for Gortner to just turn tail and run away as fast as he could! But he stayed and got his ass kicked – twice!

But Bradley’s Sean Davidson had an earlier connection with the Cobra! Back when he was just a little kid, he was at the local karate tournament waiting for his dad to fight. But the Cobra and his team of thieves (obviously the Cobra had not graduated to such grandiose schemes as the one with the virus that required to him to have a totally fake looking lab full of beakers with colored water and muscle dudes in thongs made up to look like statues ravaged by disease!) end up killing his dad during their efforts to steal all the gate money!

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As is to be expected in such a traumatic situation, his father’s mystical oriental trainer takes Sean under his wing and trains him in the ways of the ninja. And as also to be expected, there is a 100% chance of a coincidence happening where the Cobra holds a fake karate tournament years later to lure the best kung fu dude to his clutches so that he can inject him with the virus and then have something that’s surely evil, but most definitely vague occur.

Like a blind man trying to pick throwing stars out of his ball sack, American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt will leave you cringing in pained frustration. Even the reliable Steve James seems annoyed by it all (the movie unwisely has him complain a few times about getting tired of fighting ninjas – why remind the audience of how repetitive this series of movies is?), though he does give it his all in his fight scenes waving his awesomely giant swords around in style.

The rest of the movie is simply the worst of the previous movie, with the terrible David Bradley paint job. Despite this, the series though would soldier on in the monumental American Ninja 4: Annihilation where David Bradley returns and meets up with the original American Ninja himself, Michael Dudikoff!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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