The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1990)


Dudikoff is the man. There are no two ways about it. And one of the major components to his coolness is his role as Joe Armstrong in the American Ninja movies. When American Ninja 3 was sans Duds, we were all understandably disappointed. As such, we awaited this film with bated breath.

American Ninja 4 pairs Dudikoff with the dude who played the American Ninja in the third one. That American Ninja is captured by some baddie after he tries to rescue some captured American special forces dudes. This baddie isn't fooling around: he's got his own army of ninjas. It takes a lot of prodding from the US government to convince Dudikoff to leave his job as a school teacher in Africa and go in and save the day, but he finally relents. With a group of Mad Max-ish rebels from outside the bad guy's compound, Dudikoff invades it, kicks some ass, saves the day, then walks off into the sunset.


This movie is ten kinds of awesome. Unlike its predecessors, I think this one is played up for laughs. In one scene, a bad ninja jumps on the hood of Dudikoff's car. Without a second thought, Dudikoff punches him through the windshield. In another scene, two ninjas have Dudikoff by both arms, while a third shoots an arrow from some ways off. Dudikoff catches the arrow in his teeth, then stabs one of the ninjas in the neck with it, while still in his teeth. How can you not love that?

Dudikoff lives up to his DTVC Hall of Fame billing here. He totally overdoes the stoicism and hard edge. This is a departure from his quirky everyday kind of guy in films like Bounty Hunter. There's a sense as he's acting here that he's giving us a wink-wink and a nudge-nudge. My favorite scene came at the end when he took off his ninja garb and gave it to a kid in some kind of poignant heartfelt moment. Then he says to the other American Ninja: "If you want to find me, I'll be at the school," in reference to the school in Africa he was teaching at. He had to be laughing all the way to the bank.


The other American Ninja was kind of a waste. He was cool at the beginning, when he was kicking ass. But the he spent almost the rest of the film waiting for Dudikoff to save him. I was hoping for more of a team-up kind of thing, where they both kick a lot of ass. If I was the other American Ninja, I'd have looked for a better agent, because he got the shaft here. On the other hand, he's no where as cool as Dudikoff, so maybe he was dealt with accordingly by the film makers.

One of the hallmarks of the American Ninja series is the sheer omnipotence of the Ninja against everyone but Dudikoff, and this one was no exception. I saw Ninjas hold their breath for inordinate amounts of time under water, dodge bullets, climb down rocky cliff-faces in mere seconds, and in Dudikoff's case, catch arrows with their teeth. Had the Ninja been this powerful in real life, I believe the Japanese would have forgone the bombers and invaded Pearl Harbor with them instead. According to the movie, our armed military men are no match for the sheer force of the Ninja. It would've been way cheaper in the long run for Japan in my estimation.


Though the first two American Ninjas will always have a special place in my heart, I believe whole heartedly that this is the best of the series. You'd have to look long and hard to find a more fun movie than this one to watch with your buddies. Not only that, but it seems to be more and more fun on repeated viewings. I recommend buying this if you consider yourself a bad movie aficionado, because it's as necessary to a bad film collection as say a Seventh Seal is to a good movie collection. If you don't want to make that commitment, at least rent it or bump it to the top of your Netflix queue. You won't regret it.

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