Copyright 1992 Cannon Pictures.
Submitted by "Ken Shabby".
Andrew- David Bradley! Part reporter, part samurai, all bland actor!
Kenjiro- Mark Dacascos! Andrew's evil half-brother. You know he's evil because he wears all black and hisses.
Janet- Andrew's sarcastic, ignorant, and terminally-horny photographer.
Harrison- Redneck, would-be fighter who sort of-but-not-really befriends Andrew. Gets sliced across the face by Kenjiro.
Conan, McKinney, Haing-Yi, Phan-Xu, and other contestants- Decapitated, sliced, dismembered, or, worst of all, they don't even get to compete. It's like they couldn't afford to pay these guys for their scenes or something, so they were there only to make it look like there were more contenders.
Human flesh is as about as durable as a peanut butter sandwich.
Samurais may be able to rise above the pain of mortal men, but getting tazed still hurts like hell.
The color red tends to stand out in Istanbul.
If you want to get a girl in bed, stand around in your underwear while brandishing a katana.
The national sport of Turkey is belly-dancing.
Bodybuilders are naturally greasy.
If you need to fulfill an obligation, even one of violence, you're an idiot.
Rich people are bloodthirsty.
Samurais sometimes fight like Vulcans.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
2 min.- BOING! Hehehe.
4 min.- RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE TOWARDS POLES AND AN APPLE!
7 min.- Was that a death threat, or was he just being silly?
13 min.- "Oh, you were fantastic."
19 min.- And cut!
23 min.- EEEW, NO! I don't wanna see that!
24 min.- AAAH, I don't really wanna see this either!
41 min.- Look in the background! He just died! He got his arm cut off!
50 min.- He just died too! Like, 10 seconds ago! What is going on here?!
56 min.- The scream says "Oh my God, I almost got killed", but the face says "Watch where you're swinging that damn thing!"
Kenjiro: "I have defeated EVERYONE!"
Tatsuya: "Everyone, except yourself."
Andrew: "You really ought to watch your butt in Turkey".
From the director of Revenge of the Ninja and American Ninja comes Not Another Ninja Movie. Okay, it's American Samurai. Showcasing the screen debut of Mark Dacascos, this movie is a silly one. Let's find out why.
Two loving parents and their baby are flying in their own personal plane over the Japanese Alps when the engine suddenly conks out and the plane crashes. Actually, it doesn't exactly crash so much as BOUNCE off a tree and then flutter gently to the ground like a mangled butterfly before inexplicably falling into a dozen pieces. The parents die, but the baby miraculously survives.
We then see that the baby was adopted by an old samurai master, Tatsuya, who names the little bundle of violent potential Andrew and trains him in the way of the samurai. We see his training lead into adulthood, but due to the lack of buildup in these scenes, the transitions seem a bit jarring. When Tatsuya feels that Andrew has fully developed his samurai 6th sense (To see before seeing, to get the mail before you get the mail, etc), he presents Andrew with the family sword as a gift. Not happy about this occasion is Andrew's half-brother and Tatsuya's real son, Kenjiro. Much to the shock of the others, Kenjiro has joined the Yakuza, and makes an angry vow to Andrew that he will return for the sword. He hisses at him too. Yeah, like a snake. Don't laugh, it was threatening.
Andrew then moves to an apartment building in, what I'm guessing, San Francisco. The rent for this place must have been off the charts. We get a view of the park, finished interior, a fireplace, and even a modern (for the time) kitchen. A brave warrior indeed. Andrew wakes up in the middle of the night to find his place being ransacked by a gaggle of over-acting thugs. He manages to fend the guys off to the best of his abilities, but suffers a bullet wound in the process and they remaining thugs get away with his sword. Following a bizarre nightmare about Kenjiro, Andrew, in a wince-inducing move, digs deep into his wound and pulls the bullet out. No scene like this would be complete without gooey sounds effects that sound like a second-grader obnoxiously sipping from a cup of root beer.
Three months and absolutely no buildup later, we learn at a breakneck pace that Andrew is now a reporter and heading to Turkey to investigate the death of a fellow reporter, who appears to have suffered from a specific type of sword wound. Joining him on his crusade is Janet, his cute photographer. The two bicker like in some bad early 90's TV comedy, but you can probably predict how their true feelings for one another will develop.
Upon arrival, after a wacky mix-up at their hotel, the two visit the local police station with hopes of getting a look at the reporter's autopsy photos, but the police chief threatens an arrest. Janet distracts the guy long enough for Andrew to ogle the photos, and quickly comes to the conclusion that these specific-looking wounds are the work of Kenjiro. After that ruse, the two become instantly smitten, and, after another Kenjiro-related nightmare, the two engage in a poorly-choreographed love scene that makes the sex scene in Mitchell look subtle and tasteful in comparison.
The next day, we see what Kenjiro's up to; he's a champion in "Live Blade", a brutal underground weapons tournament. He makes short work of his first opponent by lopping the poor sucker's hand off, and then slicing his throat open. The fight scenes in this movie are easily the highlight, and the fatalities are surprisingly bloody and gruesome, often focusing greatly on the suffering of the loser before the victor finishes him off. Twitching corpses are seen at least twice, so this sucker isn't for the faint-hearted.
In the meantime, Janet and Andrew search a popular nightclub where a Turkish Yakuza boss hangs out, and the duo hopes the trail will lead them to Kenjiro. Instead, we meet Harrison, a forcefully-comical American hick who gets into a tangle with a few of the boss's thugs. Andrew joins in and assists, but when he tries to get some info out of the boss, his muscle, a Briti-Russia-French-Spaniard (I'm not sure) woman, tazes Andrew, and he and Janet are dragged off.
Janet is set in a dark room where she is occasionally beaten by the big Turk-Russian-French woman, while Andrew gets tied up in another dark chamber. Kenjiro walks out of the shadows and forces Andrew in to compete in Live Blade. Their conversation is intercut with a fight between McKinney (an odd Australian Val Kilmer-Dee Snider hybrid) and Conan (a wannabe Ronnie James Dio). The latter suffers a grisly fate. Meanwhile, Andrew is freed and meets Harrison in The Room of No Continuity. I call this The Room of No Continuity because, while in there, McKinney is completely missing a leg wound he sustained in the fight with Conan, certain fighters who are just sitting around are seen practice-fighting literally a second later, and not one but TWO fighters who died in their respective previous scenes are seen up and running around again! What do you expect from a movie that had two editors who, between the two of them, edited only nine other movies?
Our next fight sees two Chinese juggernauts, Phan-Xu and Haing-Yi, going head-to-head. Their fight is arguably the best in the movie; Phan-Xu is easily the coolest of the two because he has a ponytail that he swings around with a blade at the end! Haing-Yi is kind of cool too, but, another than a snazzy little haircut and a nifty spade weapon, he doesn't stand out too much. Phan-Xu puts one of his swords into Haing's neck, and watches him slowly die. Our next battle is between an Asian pirate and Harrison, which ends quickly and humiliatingly when Harrison uses his trusty knife to stick the pirate's hand to his leg. A victorious Harrison is booed out of the arena by the audience, and is berated by the quirky announcer for being too squeamish for not killing the pirate. Our third fight of the night pits Andrew against a hulking, Viking-looking Swede named Lars. Andrew, however, refuses to fight until he knows Janet is okay. He is promised that he will see her on the way to the arena. After a short little joust and some awkward putdowns ("Nice hat!"), Andrew refuses to kill Lars and instead goes Vulcan on his butt, putting him to sleep.
Before that, I have to say that I couldn’t help but notice the rampant stereotypes in this movie. The Japanese are honorable, quiet, and carry swords, Swedes are hulking dummies, the Chinese all know martial arts, and the American is either a perfect slice of Americana or a boorish, racist cowboy redneck. Very little thought went into this movie, didn't it?
After that, Andrew promises to the gangster that he will keep on fighting if Janet is set free; he decides to talk to Kenjiro about it. Our next fight is Harrison taking on Kenjiro himself, who kills Harrison with one slice, the same he used to kill the reporter. Andrew and Kenjiro meet up again. Andrew refuses to fight, but decides to go on anyway after Kenjiro theatens Janet's life. Indecisive, isn't he? I mean, he changes his mind easily. Not a good trait for a samurai, even when under stress. Next, Andrew and McKinney face off. After Andrew disarms him, he refuses to kill him too, even after the shimp-bbq-ing goon attempts to off Andrew when he turns his back. Right afterwards, Phan-Xu and Kenjiro battle. It's another good one, especially when Phan-Xu cuts Kenjiro's shoulder with his ponytail of doom. Unfortunately, Phan-Xu decides to get a little fancy, resulting in his noggin getting removed from the rest of the ol' nervous system. The inevitable then occurs; Andrew discovers Kenjiro has rigged the tournament for the two of them to fight. After their own personal montages (cue "You're The Best Around"), a deeply-saddened Andrew and an intense Kenjiro go head to head for the last time in a duel of brotherly bloodlust.
American Samurai is a highly-flawed little martial arts piece. The editing is amateurish, the pacing is off, and continuity is totally thrown out the window. The best parts, hands down, are the battle scenes. The competitors themselves are a varied and memorable bunch, and the surprisingly gruesome and sadistic deaths are a visceral treat. Worth a check for martial arts enthusiasts but don't expect too much other than some good fight scenes.