The third American Ninja may not be everyone’s favorite, but I feel there are still some wonderful moments in it starting with the origin of new hero Sean Davidson (David Bradley) — Michael Dudikoff, the Joe Armstrong American Ninja we all known and love, was burnt out on martial arts and didn’t want to make a movie aroun South African apartheid — who as a child watched General Andreas (Cannon utility fielder Yehuda Effroni) kill his father and ended up being raised by Izumo (Calvin Jung) as a ninja.
His first mission brings him to the island of Triana and Kumite, err, another martial arts tournament, but this one has Sergeant Curtis Jackson (Steve James, baby!) and wacky Dexter (Evan J. Klisser) as the heroes and the minions of the Cobra (it takes a genius, no, it takes Cannon to put Marjoe Gortner in a kung fu movie), including his ninjette Chan Lee (Michele B. Chan), who has the power of a Maskatron action figure and can change out her face.
Taking a page from another leader named after a snake, The Cobra’s plan is very G.I. Joe. Whoever wins the tournament has to be the toughest person alive, so to prove to General Andreas that his new poison works, they will be injected with it. And die, one assumes.
Produced by real life scandal Harry Alan Towers — he allegedly ran a Soviet vice ring in the United Nations with Peter Lawford and his girlfriend Mariella Novotny and left the country when arrested and moved to Europe; he followed that up by being less sleazy and working with Jess Franco — and directed by Cedric Sundstrom — who also made the fourth movie in this series — this may feel like a step down to some. Writer Gary Conway starred on TVs Burke’s Law and Land of the Giants before writing movies, as well as being married to a Miss America.
In a 1994 interview in Masters of Kung Fu magazine, No Retreat, No Surrender star Kurt McKinney claimed that he was offered the lead role but didn’t want to be away from his new wife for too long.
You can watch this on Tubi.
You can listen to The Cannon Canon podcast about American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt here.