American Ninja is a perfectly passable, schlocky piece of 1980's action. It's about a soldier in the American military named Joe (Michael Dudikoff) who has memory loss. He also happens to be a secret ninja. He and his comrades, including his girlfriend Patricia (Judie Aronson) and his macho friend Curtis (Steve James), are in danger because some evil Asian ninjas are after them, for reasons that are probably explained but I didn't catch. It's not my fault necessarily, the movie is just really bad. Although, of the three movies, American Ninja is probably the best (technically). Joe isn't actually that likeable of a hero. He does the whole "silent but deadly" thing, but here it doesn't come out as awesome. It just comes out as confusing and irritating. It seems like if I was one of the other characters, Joe would get on my nerves because he NEVER ANSWERS ANYONE'S QUESTIONS and insists on being mysterious and cool. Most of the characters are cliche: Patricia is just a random damsel in distress, and Curtis is the tough Black commando. And both of these characters didn't like Joe at first, but after he did, like, one thing that was cool, they both warmed up to him 100%. Curtis challenges Joe to a fight, and Joe basically just pulls the exact same fight move on Curtis a bunch of times, and then Curtis admits that he was wrong about Joe and that he's actually cool because he just rolled him around a few times. So the characters, who happen to be cut-outs, develop way too quickly. And at one point, someone says that Joe's date of birth is unknown... so is it possible for him to be like, 50 years old? Here's another thing about this movie: the action is fairly boring. It's mostly the dialogue that keeps you invested (at all) in the story. The first American Ninja is, as a movie, the best of these three movies. I'm giving it a C. But it's not the most entertaining...
Hell Comes to Frogtown is easily my least favorite of these three movies. It's boring, confusing, pointless, and very unlikeable. It has nothing in common with its considerably more awesome poster, and you end up wishing you saw that movie instead of the Hell Comes to Frogtown that does exist.
Alien (1979) Movie Review
If you really think about it, the original Alien movie is about as complex of a storyline as Halloween or Vacation. All it is is a big scary alien on a spaceship killing people. And it's done so well that I might even like it more than its fantastic sequel, Aliens. So in case you haven't seen Alien, here is the basic synopsis. In deep space, the ship Nostromo gets a distress call from an unknown planet. They get to the planet and find hundreds of alien eggs. Kane (John Hurt), one of the ship's mechanics, is attacked by the creature that hatches from one of the eggs. The crew figures out that the distress call they received was actually a warning. They flee the planet and start to investigate the extraterrestrial life form attached to Kane's head, called a facehugger. Eventually the crew freezes the facehugger off of Kane and everything returns to normal. But at breakfast that day, Kane dies in what is possibly one of the most memorable death scenes in any movie ever when another alien, called the chestburster, aptly bursts out of his chest. The chestburster scurries off into the depths of the ship, and the crew is left with no choice but to track it down. Soon enough they realize that the alien has evolved and is picking them off one by one. Needless to say, Alien is truly amazing. The special and practical effects are both spectacular, especially for the time. I also must add that the costume work on both the crew members' uniforms and the xenomorph (the titular alien) in particular are excellent. I'm trying not to run out of synonyms to great: I've already used fantastic, excellent, spectacular, and amazing. Next up is incredible I think. Ridley Scott's direction of the movie is incredible. The lighting and suspense add to the overall horror vibe of Alien, which is something Aliens lacks. I mean, Aliens is good and all, but to be honest, it's really not that scary. Alien is scary. The xenomorph is terrifying, far more menacing than the Yautja of the Predator series. And the constant sequences of suspense and then jump scares are great because they never let you breath. Even the first half of the movie, which has close to zero scares, is chilling because you just know that awful things are going to happen to these people. If you watch other confined horror movies like the other Alien movies, Predator, or The Thing, then you know that the fact that it is set in a claustrophobic place makes it scarier. Sure, you feel it in those movies. But while I was watching Alien, I REALLY felt the whole "closed in" thing. There's really nowhere to hide. In Predator, the jungle is a pretty big place, so I guess you can kind of move around. In The Thing, you can always just go outside, but you'd probably freeze to death. In Aliens, there's the ship, and the planet, and all of those places. But in Alien, it's just the ship and that's it. There's no escape (don't even bring up the escape pod because I don't really want to rewrite all of those sentences). I thought that almost all of the actors in this movie did a great job. Especially Sigourney Weaver and Ian Holm as Ripley and Ash. For some reason I felt like Ash wasn't a good name for Ian Holm's character. Ash is a name for a generic teenage boy or a grumpy dog or some mythical action hero. Not a snobby English android. Ash just doesn't seem like an Ash. At first, you can't really tell who the main character is. So great.