Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing.

I know this because nostalgia was the emotion aroused when I saw American Ninja and its first three sequels on a list of upcoming Stan titles, and it was nostalgia that inspired me to float the idea of a retrospective piece on the franchise, which I swear to god I recall quite enjoying when I was 10 or thereabouts. It was not nostalgia that prompted editor Luke Buckmaster to actually commission the piece; if I had to put money on it, I’d be likely to select a baser motivation, like cruelty, schadenfreude, or good old fashioned sadism.

So I spent a Sunday with a couple of bottles of decent red and the first four American Ninja flicks. They’re cheerfully cheap exploitation actioners from the Cannon Films/Golan-Globus stable, which also brought us the Delta Force movies, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Masters of the Universe, and pretty much the entire back third of Charles Bronson’s big screen career. And believe me, it was a wild ride.


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