Lovers of bad cinema are a masochistic breed. We ask ourselves a fundamental question, why watch a bad movie when we could watch a good one instead? The answer: it's a giddy thrill seeing so many people work together to create an epic failure. We delight in the hilarious incongruity between ambition and execution in the worst of the worst film has to offer. And sometimes, as we dig through the morass of wretchedness, we unearth a rare gem of a film that has gone full circle and completed the journey from being plain old bad to so-bad-it's good. This we call Fine Cheese. Isn't creating a film that inspires laughs and entertains despite its total failure as art a kind of artistry? The answer is no. But -- what the heck, I invite you to kill some time with me and sample a specimen of gourmet fromage: American Ninja 2: The Confrontation. If this post is well-received, expect other samples of Fine Cheese to follow.
Arch-Villain, The LionWhat Happens: On a remote Caribbean island, dastardly supervillian 'The Lion' kidnaps Professor Sanborn and uses the kindly scientist's cancer research to create an army of genetically enhanced Super Ninjas to guard The Lion's drug dealing operation. When The Lion captures some U.S. marines to add to his ever-growing cadre of mutant ninjas, Army Ranger/Master Ninja Joe Armstrong (Michael Dudikoff) is called upon to investigate the disappearances and thwart the Lion's nefarious designs. Why it's Fine Cheese: The Lion's convoluted and nonsensical plot lands American Ninja 2 firmly in the cheesily hilarious column. I'm no Caribbean druglord but I'm pretty sure there are simpler ways to protect your business than by capturing a professor and manipulating his cancer research to produce genetically perfect ninjas "stronger than a ten ton crane." It doesn't help matters that throughout the film The Lion's perfect specimens of ninja excellence prove time and time again how comically inept they are. Joe Armstrong bests the ninjas mainly through blind luck and the ninjas' chronic inability to not kill one another when trying to stop our hero. Late in the movie, The Lion gives a baffling demonstration in an attempt to show-off how deadly his Super Ninjas can be. Instead, it only serves to highlight what piss-poor Ninjustu skills they possess. The Ninjas perform a choreographed routine that resembles something found on the cutting-room floor of a Justin Bieber dance party music video. Then, The Lion makes the odd choice of ending his demonstration by having his righthand man effortlessly kill the majority of the Super Ninjas. Despite their performance proving conclusively that the Super Ninjas aren't fit to be the late night guards of a Taco Bell franchise, The Lion's potential buyers view the exhibition as a resounding success. Cheesiest Bits: The title for starters. The film lures the audience in with its tantalizing subtitle: The Confrontation. It's a bold promise that at some point in this film there will be a confrontation of some-kind. After an ambush on the beach, Joe Armstrong and his compatriot Curtis Jackson (the awesome Steve James not Fiddy Cent) evade their ninja pursuers by jumping from a fifty foot cliff. The film's editor rescues the duo by depositing them light-as-a-feather into the speedboat of some fellow marines. The Steely "Wild Bill" It behooves me to mention Wild Bill, the Marine's cagey commanding officer played by Jeff Celentano. The stiffness of Celentano's line reading makes you think his tongue died right before filming started and now it suffers from an advanced case of rigor mortis. I can't imagine how he manages to fluff the pure dialogue gold the script feeds him. He flubs lines so well constructed they'd make Woody Allen go apoplectic with green-eyed jealousy. When Armstrong warns Wild Bill that ninjas kidnapped his men, Wild Bill responds how any of us would: "Ninja? What the hell is a ninja?!" Later, Bill gets fed up with the constant barrage of ninja attacks causing him to proclaim: "Ninjas. Drug-pushers. My men getting kidnapped and murdered. This is really starting to get on my tits!" The Lion's evil lair provides a Velveeta-like layer of extra cheese to American Ninja 2's rich fondue. By lair I mean recreation centre. The makers of American Ninja 2 patently try to pass off the shower facility of a local rec centre as Professor Sanborn's laboratory (the Super Ninjas themselves are housed in the shower stalls -- see above image). Conclusion: If you love ninja action scored to a steel drum island-riff, filled with whitebelt level fighting than American Ninja 2: The Confrontation is for you. Cheesiest Line: "That damn American Ninja! He has the heart of a tiger!" Tastiest Curd: Wild Bill explains why he wears a sleeve-less Hawaiin shirt and why none of the marines wear uniforms. It appears certain "radical left-wing elements" have it in for the marines so they dress in plain-clothes. It has nothing at all to do with film's budgetary constraints not provisioning enough to costume the actors in proper uniforms.