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 Lion
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.
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.
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.
This article was first posted on September 20, 2012