Is there a Kumite'sploitation genre? If not, there ought to be. This looks absolutely smashing, starring David Bradley as a swordsman who enters a Turkish fighting competition, where he must fight his half-Japenese bother, played by Iron Chef America host Mark Dacascos. If that wasn't enough to seal the deal for you, this is also directed by the phenomenal Sam Firstenberg, the man who helmed the first two "American Ninja" films, the amazing "Ninja III: The Domination," "Revenge of the Ninja," "Breakin' 2: Electric Bugaloo," and the sadly underrated Steve James classic "Riverbend."
I can't remember if I have ever mentioned this or not, but I have a long-time hatred toward David Bradley that stretches back to my adolescences. I have spent years avoiding most anything he appeared, but I'm finally starting to get over it. It all goes back to "American Ninja III: Bloodhunt." I am a huge fan of the "American Ninja" series as well as Michael Dudikoff. I used to live in the city of Ventura, which is about 90 miles just north of Los Angeles. We were blessed with several decent theaters in my city, but occasionally something was in such limited releases that if you wanted to go see it, you'd have to drive a few hours out of the way. Such was the case with "AN3." I actually skipped school and drove down to LA with several friends so we could catch the very first showing. I cannot begin to tell you how fucking excited I was to see Dudikoff kick more ass. To me, guys like Dudikoff were not your typical breed of action star. He was several rungs above guys like Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Any muscle head can point and shoot, but it takes a profoundly talented individual to wipe someone off the planet with purely elegant physicality.
Anyway, I remember sitting there with my popcorn, in this sterile little theater. The lights go down, there are a few trailers. As the credits roll I don't really notice that Michael Dudikoff's name is absent. After all, he's the fucking American Ninja, right? Why would I even question his participation. About thirty minutes into the film, my friends and I are very upset. We realize that Dudikoff has been replaced by some wiener with a feathery hairdo. We all leave the theater, which was empty by the way, and march to the manager's office, where we demand our money back. They refused to give us a refund, and I vaguely remember my friends and I overturning several planters in the lobby before we left.
My grudge toward Bradley was only mildly cooled by the fact that they brought Dudikoff back to show him how it's done in "American Ninja 4: The Annihilation." I am well-known for elevating grudge holding to an art form, and this is a pretty good example of my work.
By the way, the box art for this is fucking terrible. It looks like some bonus Tae Bo tape.