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.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989)


I probably would've reviewed this sooner, but David Bradley's been in my dog house since the fanny pack incident in Cyborg Cop. It still just boggles my mind that a so-called action hero would allow himself to be made to wear a fanny pack. If it hadn't been for Hard Justice, he night have been banned from the DTVC for life.

American Ninja 3 takes place after the first two, but DTVC Hall of Famer Michael Dudikoff is conspicuously absent. Very conspicuously. Anyway, Bradley, Steve James as Curtis Jackson, and some other dudes come to this island for a martial arts tournament, unbeknownst to them so a pharmaceutical mogul can find the strongest one so he can carry a biological weapon in his system. For whatever reason, they ignore the obviously stronger Jackson, and go for Bradley instead, and Jackson and another competitor, whom Jackson affectionately refers to as "Junior", must go in and rescue him. Oh yeah, and an Asian chick who was working for the mogul is actually a ninja too, and she wants to help save Bradley too.


The first, and most important question here is: why? Why was this made? Cash grab, maybe. This was too much to put on Bradley right away. For his first major role, he had no chance of filling Dudikoff's impressive shoes. I know I shouldn't throw terms like racism around lightly, but what other explanation was there to cast Bradley as the main hero over James, who obviously fit the part better. And you could tell James didn't like playing second fiddle to Bradley, and it only made the film that much worse.

One thing you notice about the first, second, and fourth films, is there's a sense of tongue in cheekness that adds to the entertainment value. This film tried that too, but fell on its face. It really was an MST3K quality film, and on that score, it was plenty worthy of making fun of. It was like a YouTube high school project video, where you almost expected the actors to look at their friend behind the camera for the signal that he pushed the stop button to end the scene.


I was asked a couple weeks ago what my top ten films of the 1990s are, and it made me think what a DTV top 10 of the 1990s would be, and somewhere around 7 or 8, I would have to have Hard Justice. Now, to be fair, Bradley had nine films between that one and American Ninja 3, which was his first, so I can't be too hard on him here. The fanny pack is still more unforgivable. In that case, he had four films under his belt (no pun intended), though three of those were American Ninja films, so maybe he didn't know what he was doing by rocking the fanny pack, but I don't know. I haven't made any movies, and I know I wouldn't rock a fanny pack unless I wanted to look ridiculous.

Someone who never looked ridiculous was the late Steve James. Though imdb didn't say it explicitly, I have to believe he was the inspiration for Jax in Mortal Kombat. He did kind of mail it in here, which may have been as much lack of interest as it was his illness. Like Swayze and Ron O'neal, James was killed by pancreatic cancer four years later. I don't want to get too somber here, though. He wasn't as good as he was in American Ninja 2, but he was still good enough to be one of the film's few bright spots. Just check out the too sweet "Shalom, y'all" T-shirt.


There was a dude in here who looked a lot like Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, which was pretty cool. My three-year-old nephew watches a show called Yo Gabba Gabba!, and Mark Mothersbaugh has a segment on there where he draws a picture on the board and it comes to life, a la Bill Cosby's Picture Pages. I wonder if they really wanted Mark Mothersbaugh, and he was like "What, no Dudikoff? Then no Mothersbaugh either."

There are two reasons to see this: if you're an American Ninja completist, or if you need a really bad movie to make fun of. You probably should see it for the latter instead of the former. What's great is it usually comes packaged with part 2, so it's like you're buying part 2, and you get part 3 for free, so you don't have to feel like you're ripped off when it sucks.

For more info:


  1. I used to watch these movies with my brothers when we were like 9 years old or something, back then I was drawing Ninjas all the time. I had Ninja freaking fever.

    Its true, I watch these movies now, and I get a laugh out of them! Just like when I re-watched Bloodsport the other day! I was laughing all the way every time that retarded big dude from the Revenge of the Nerds movies said something. ;)

    Hey, theres a new Ninja movie coming out in theaters called Ninja Assasin, heard from it? It looks gloriously cheesy.

  2. I've seen commercials for that new ninja movie, and it looks pretty bloody. It'll be interesting to see if it, with the new Ninja Gaiden games for the XBox, will bring about a ninja renaissance in popular culture. We really haven't heard from them for about twenty years, outside of color-swaps in Mortal Kombat video games, which, if you want to get technical, were just continuations of characters created during the first period of ninja popularity.