Parents' Guide to

American Ninja

By Jelani Harper, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Predictable martial arts movie not for kids.

Movie R 1985 97 minutes
American Ninja Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Technically, AMERICAN NINJA would be considered an action/adventure flick, heavy on the drama with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure; but it's a bit more of a mess than that. The movie plays more like a comedy with its overabundance of senseless violence that swiftly goes from funny to hysterical with each new kick, thrust, and explosion. Add in a few noticeably un-Oscar worthy acting performances, some great stereotyping of cultures and characters, and good ol' fashioned American patriotism and you have a cutting edge martial arts cinema experience -- 20 years ago.

Aside from its 1985-esque stunts, cheesy scoring and odd slow-motion effects, NINJA has more plot than most of the movie's four other progenies. And when NINJA takes a break from all the Ninjitsu tossing violence, it actually touches on a few decent philosophical points. There are one-liners about controlling energy, freeing the mind of thought and enhancing the physical (and otherwise) senses, which of course is the essence of the martial arts depicted. But before the intellectual stimulation becomes too overbearing, lo and behold there's another body to bludgeon and cheap thrills to take its place. Bottom line: There is no reason for your kids to watch this.

Movie Details

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