American Ninja; or My Love of Movies

I remember watching television with my dad when I was a kid and marveling at the programs he watched: Star Trek on Saturday afternoons, Solid Gold on Saturday nights and Bruce Lee films on Sundays. I know this is where I got my love of Sci-fi and Kung-Fu movies. My mom liked actions films with Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood and would share those with us. My grandmother was very religious and only allowed us to watch Biblical or Biblical-themed movies and shows; still I learned to enjoy them. And because we didn’t have cable, we watched a lot of the older stuff on network and public channels: black and white movies, Vincent Price horrors, buddy comedies with Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and Lewis and Martin; and of course, Mel Brooks.

So naturally, when I had kids, I wanted to share all this with them. Surely, they would love it as much as I did. So I began exposing them to these types of movies and shows. When they were little, they sat for a while, but would quickly lose interest. I figured it was just their ages, but as they got older, they skipped the quality time altogether and opted to do homework and chores instead rather than watch television with me. It was disappointing; and today was another reminder of how much they don’t share my interest in films.

MV5BNjcxMzc5ZWQtN2Y2OS00NGNiLWE4MDYtMzAyYWJkN2YyODliXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_SX642_CR0,0,642,999_AL_My husband fell asleep on the couch while he was watching American Ninja with Michael Dudikoff and Steve James. Admittedly, I only watched it as a kid because I thought Michael Dudikoff was cute. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice how bad the film actually was (notice the tagline on the movie poster). Regardless, there’s still something entertaining about bad films and this one was no exception: even though the fight scenes were heavily choreographed and noticeable, the dialogue was terrible and Steve James somehow lost his shirt every time he got into a fight, which was often, I got a good laugh out of it.

Right before the big ‘fight’ scene at the end, I noticed my daughter was peaking at the movie from the kitchen. Like the nerd that I am, I excitedly pointed out how there were thirty bad guys with machine guns standing around not doing anything as one American ninja dispatched all of the Asian ninjas; how the aforementioned Asian ninjas were waiting to get their behinds kicked by the American ninja, one-by-one; the exact moment Steve James loses his shirt; the Ninja sensei who disappears into thin air and reappears in front of the American ninja in time to catch a knife in the heart and save his American pupil. And because that wasn’t enough, I then told my daughter about the history of the time, how America fell in love with (or appropriated, depending on who you ask) the Japanese culture in the 80’s and produced films like Gung Ho and Black Rain.

Needless to say, my daughter was not impressed with any of it. She raised an eyebrow, said something about how racist the movie was and how she didn’t understand why anyone would watch it; then she put her headphones back in and turned her attention to her phone, where she watched YouTube instead.

So much for sharing my interests with my kids. Maybe I can pass this on to my grandkids one day…

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