American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1990) [Blu-Ray]

americanninja4When last we saw Sean Davidson, he was a martial arts competitor thrust in to a plot involving a secret organization engineering a huge virus. Now he’s in the military as a top secret enforcer—for some reason. I guess Curtis Jackson had some connections and hooked Sean up over the course of a year? David Bradley is back as pseudo-American Ninja Sean, a man who is by no means a ninja. But he can recognized types of ninjas, so that counts. I think. Thankfully, Michael Dudikoff returns as Joe Armstrong, the original American Ninja who is now a peace corps officer and has turned down all efforts to be turned in to a covert military officer.

In “The Annihilation,” Sean Davidson is enlisted along with his pal to foil the deadly scheme of yet another mad man named Mulgrew. Played by James Booth, Mulgrew is a man who wants to destroy America by blowing up New York City. Like most action movie villains from the eighties and early nineties, he hates America and Americans, so naturally it’s up to a pair of American Ninjas to stop his plans. He has enlisted a slew of terrorists that he is training as ninjas to infiltrate America and begin tearing it down from the inside out. Sadly Steve James is nowhere to be found in this installment, being side stepped in favor of Dudikoff who returns for what is arguably the final film in the movie series. For fans of Joe Armstrong, don’t get too excited, as this is still David Bradley’s film.

He manages to throw down for a good portion of the movie, while Dudikoff only enters the film about forty five minutes in, sadly. Joe is now a teacher for a village, and is called upon to rescue Sean who, despite his best efforts, is kidnapped by Mulgrew. Despite being reluctant to enter in to combat again, he dives in head first, slaying a slew of ninjas and building an army of rebels made up of people that look like they just dropped in from “Beyond Thunderdome.” The big appeal of “The Annihilation” is the final half, as Dudikoff is in full ninja garb rescuing Sean, while Sean gets to do battle one last time. It’s noticeable that the pair of men only share the screen once, and despite being featured on the poster together, are by no means the buddy-buddy action team that Dudikoff and Steve James were.

Despite that, though, “The Annihilation” is a much stronger film than part 3, and also manages to provide much better entertainment. Star Bradley seems to be having a better time in the role of Sean, and Dudikoff is a welcome return to the series. It’s too bad we couldn’t have one last outing with Joe and Curtis fighting evil. The Blu-Ray from Olive Films comes with “Last Tango In Lesotho: The Making Of American Ninja 4,” a fourteen minute segment featuring interviews with director Cedric Sundstrom, EP Avi Lerner, and Michael Dudikoff. It’s one of the shorter and weaker retrospectives of the movie series filmed for Olive. There’s the original theatrical trailer for “American Ninja 4” and finally, there’s “The Cobra Strikes” Music Video, a song from the third film with a montage of scenes from the entire movie series. It’s cheesy but fun.