CANNON MONTH: American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)

Director Sam Firstenberg and stars Michael Dudikoff and Steve James — that’s as Sergeant Joe Armstrong and Sergeant Curtis Jackson to all of us — are back in the second of five (well, six if you count American Samurai) movies in this series.

Now US Army Rangers, our heroes are helping the Marines, led by Captain Bill “Wild Bill” Woodward (Jeff Weston, who is your trivia answer to what actor could be in an Altman movie — The Player — and a Full Moon film, of which you can choose from Puppet Master II or Demonic Toys). Their ranks have been disappearing thanks to ninjas, so they called in the right soldiers.

They’re part of a plan by Leo “The Lion” Burke (Gary Conway from Land of the Giants; he also wrote this movie along with James Booth, who was in Avenging Force) who is creating super ninjas from the research of Alicia Sanborn’s father. He has a cool base on Blackbeard Island, his own ninja named Tojo Ken (Mike Stone, forever providing the stunt power behind Cannon’s ninja films, as he was the fight coordinator) and could have really made something of himself were it not for our heroes.

I love everything Firstenberg directed. And seeing Steve James elevated from sidekick to equal hero in this made me beyond glad. It’s basically a comic book movie made with no budget and all the heart in the world.

87 people die in this movie. Ninja war is hell too.

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