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HISTORY

The film is the first of four American Ninja installments including American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987, see entry), American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989, see entry), and American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1991, see entry).
       An early film trailer featured the title American Warrior, but the title was changed to American Ninja before release.
       Chuck Norris was originally announced to play the role of “Joe,” as noted in a 4 Sep 1985 Var article, but was later replaced by Michael Dudikoff, who had no previous martial arts training.
       Principal photography began in the Philippines on 15 Apr 1985, and completed on 17 Jun 1985, according to production notes in AMPAS library files. A conflicting listing from a 22 Feb 1985 Var news item stated that shooting began one week earlier, on 8 Apr 1984.
       American Ninja opened to mixed reviews. According to a Nov 1985 Box review, the film brought in $5.5 million in its first ten days of release in 672 theaters. ...

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The film is the first of four American Ninja installments including American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987, see entry), American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989, see entry), and American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1991, see entry).
       An early film trailer featured the title American Warrior, but the title was changed to American Ninja before release.
       Chuck Norris was originally announced to play the role of “Joe,” as noted in a 4 Sep 1985 Var article, but was later replaced by Michael Dudikoff, who had no previous martial arts training.
       Principal photography began in the Philippines on 15 Apr 1985, and completed on 17 Jun 1985, according to production notes in AMPAS library files. A conflicting listing from a 22 Feb 1985 Var news item stated that shooting began one week earlier, on 8 Apr 1984.
       American Ninja opened to mixed reviews. According to a Nov 1985 Box review, the film brought in $5.5 million in its first ten days of release in 672 theaters.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Nov 1985
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 1985
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1985
p. 8
Los Angeles Times
2 Sep 1985
p. 5
Variety
22 Feb 1985
---
Variety
4 Sep 1985
p. 16, 18
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Cannon Group, Inc. Presents
a Golan-Globus Production
of a Sam Firstenberg Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
Prod mgr, Philippines crew
1st asst dir, Philippines crew
2d asst dir, Philippines crew
3d asst dir, Philippines crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod, Philippines crew
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Still photog
Addl photog, Philippines crew
2d unit cam, Philippines crew
Cam asst, Philippines crew
Cam asst, Philippines crew
Chief elec, Philippines crew
Elec, Philippines crew
Generator op, Philippines crew
Head grip, Philippines crew
Grip, Philippines crew
Grip and elec equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Story boards
Art dir, Philippines crew
Asst art dir, Philippines crew
Draftswoman, Philippines crew
SET DECORATORS
Const mgr, Philippines crew
Set dec, Philippines crew
Asst set dec, Philippines crew
Set dressing carpenter, Philippines crew
Prop master, Philippines crew
Asst propsmen, Philippines crew
Asst propsmen, Philippines crew
Chief armorer, Philippines crew
Picture vehicles, Philippines crew
Const foreman, Philippines crew
Asst const lead, Philippines crew
Head painter, Philippines crew
Asst head painter, Philippines crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst ward
Ward master, Philippines crew
Asst ward, Philippines crew
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
John "Doc" Wilkinson
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd man, Philippines crew
Cable man, Philippines crew
Head utility, Philippines crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Head of spec and visual eff, Philippines crew
Spec eff asst, Philippines crew
Titles des by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist, Philippines crew
Asst makeup artist, Philippines crew
Asst makeup artist, Philippines crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Scr supv
Prod accountant
Post prod supv
Prod supv, Philippines crew
Philippine coord, Philippine crew
Casting, Philippines crew
Unit mgr, Philippines crew
Loc mgr, Philippines crew
Prod secy, Philippines crew
Casting asst, Philippines crew
Prod accountant, Philippines crew
Transportation mgr, Philippines crew
Prod asst, Philippines crew
PC escorts, Philippines crew
PC escorts, Philippines crew
PC escorts, Philippines crew
Legal adv
Medical team head
German Shepherds provided by
Publicity coord
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Ninja/Martial arts choreog
Stunts
Richard Norton
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord, Philippines crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 August 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 30 Aug 1985
Production Date:
15 Apr--17 Jun 1985 in the Philippines
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Cannon Productions, N.V.
30 December 1985
PA276777
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Philippines, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At Fort Sonora, a U.S. Army Supply Group in the Philippines, a new recruit named Joe watches fellow soldiers kick a “hacky sack,” but declines to join them. Sometime later, Colonel Hickock bids farewell to his daughter, Patricia, and sends her to the airport under protection of Sergeant Rinaldo and a convoy of soldiers. On the way, a Philippine militia group, posing as a road construction crew, ambushes the convoy at gunpoint. Patricia escapes as the U.S. soldiers fight back. A mysterious figure named Black Star Ninja watches from a hillside and sends his ninja army to join in the fight, killing men from both sides. Joe rescues Patricia and flees into the jungle. The Army survivors return to the base and report that Joe is to blame for the casualties because he instigated retaliation. Declaring that a second group, the ninjas, attacked them, the Army becomes aware of a new threat. Meanwhile, Black Star Ninja is impressed with Joe’s skills and reports back to his boss, a black market arms dealer named Ortega, reporting that the “American ninja” foiled their attack. Joe returns Patricia safely to the Army base, but is reprimanded for his participation in the fight. The colonel reviews Joe’s file and discovers he has a history of violent behavior, and suffers from amnesia. Around the base, the soldiers treat Joe as an enemy, and blame him for the death of four soldiers. As Joe rests, he remembers being trained in martial arts as a boy. Elsewhere, a prospective weapons buyer visits Ortega at his vast estate, which includes a ninjutsu training ground. ...

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At Fort Sonora, a U.S. Army Supply Group in the Philippines, a new recruit named Joe watches fellow soldiers kick a “hacky sack,” but declines to join them. Sometime later, Colonel Hickock bids farewell to his daughter, Patricia, and sends her to the airport under protection of Sergeant Rinaldo and a convoy of soldiers. On the way, a Philippine militia group, posing as a road construction crew, ambushes the convoy at gunpoint. Patricia escapes as the U.S. soldiers fight back. A mysterious figure named Black Star Ninja watches from a hillside and sends his ninja army to join in the fight, killing men from both sides. Joe rescues Patricia and flees into the jungle. The Army survivors return to the base and report that Joe is to blame for the casualties because he instigated retaliation. Declaring that a second group, the ninjas, attacked them, the Army becomes aware of a new threat. Meanwhile, Black Star Ninja is impressed with Joe’s skills and reports back to his boss, a black market arms dealer named Ortega, reporting that the “American ninja” foiled their attack. Joe returns Patricia safely to the Army base, but is reprimanded for his participation in the fight. The colonel reviews Joe’s file and discovers he has a history of violent behavior, and suffers from amnesia. Around the base, the soldiers treat Joe as an enemy, and blame him for the death of four soldiers. As Joe rests, he remembers being trained in martial arts as a boy. Elsewhere, a prospective weapons buyer visits Ortega at his vast estate, which includes a ninjutsu training ground. Back at the Army base, a soldier named Jackson provokes a fight with Joe. Using his martial arts skills, Joe wins the brawl, impresses the others, and ultimately befriends Jackson. When asked about his training, Joe tells Jackson that he has amnesia and sees only flashes of his past. Attracted to Joe, Patricia schemes to lure him to a restaurant. There, Sergeant Rinaldo and Ortega see the couple. Realizing who Patricia’s date is, Ortega orders Rinaldo to kill Joe for interfering with their arms dealing. Sometime later, Rinaldo sends Joe to the Army supply warehouse. Sensing something amiss, Joe comes under attack from Ortega’s ninjas, but fights them off. As his supply truck is stolen, Joe hides underneath the vehicle and rides to Ortega’s compound, and witnesses the illegal dealings happening there. When Joe is spotted, another fight ensues. Ortega’s gardener, Shinyuki, aids in Joe’s escape, and hints that they know each other. Later, Joe returns to the Army base and is promptly imprisoned for allegedly stealing the supply truck. Jackson unsuccessfully appeals to Rinaldo for Joe’s release, then goes to Patricia and the colonel for help. However, Colonel Hickock believes Joe is at fault. Elsewhere, ninjas break into the military jail to kill Joe at Ortega’s behest. A fight ensues and Joe escapes. He makes his way to Jackson and shares his knowledge of the sergeant and Ortega’s misdeeds. Despite Joe’s objections, Jackson persuades Joe to share what he knows with the colonel. At Colonel Hickock’s house, Joe is threatened with a second arrest, but jumps through a window and escapes in a truck as the military police give chase. Rinaldo’s Jeep runs off the road and explodes. Revealing his involvement in the stolen missiles plot, Colonel Hickock invites Ortega to his home to discuss Joe’s interference. As the two men argue, Hickock decides to call off the plan. Upstairs, Black Star Ninja sneaks into Patricia’s room and kidnaps her. When Joe later returns to Ortega’s compound, he encounters Shinyuki, who reveals that he found Joe as a baby and taught him to be a ninja. One day, an explosion caused Joe’s amnesia, and he was separated from Shinyuki. In turn, Shinyuki allowed Joe to forget his past until he was ready to know his true identity. Shinyuki then presents an array of ninja weapons and reminds Joe of the ninja code. Joe agrees to honor the code and refers to Shinyuki as “father.” Since Black Star Ninja has taken a malicious path, Shinyuki and Joe agree he must die. When daylight breaks, a helicopter arrives on Ortega’s estate to transport the stolen missiles. Joe, dressed as a black-masked ninja, attacks, and a fight ensues. Ortega reveals that he is holding Patricia hostage and hopes Joe will surrender. The fight continues, with Shinyuki coming to Joe’s aid. The two ninjas battle Ortega’s army and Shinyuki is killed. Army tanks, led by Jackson, arrive as Ortega tries to get away with Patricia in the helicopter. However, Colonel Hickock attempts to rescue his daughter, and is shot dead by Ortega. Joe kills Black Star Ninja and leaps onto the helicopter landing skids as it lifts off. Battling with Ortega in midair, Joe grabs Patricia, and jumps to a rooftop. Jackson shoots a missile to blow up the helicopter, as Joe removes his mask.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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