Michael Dudikoff starred in a series called American Ninja - movies which were single-handedly responsible for the ninja becoming a staple fantasy for children of the '80s. That's actually saying quite a bit, because if there's one thing the '80s were about, it was coke. But if there were two things the '80s were about, it was coke and ninjas.
Like David Carradine, Dudikoff did not practice martial arts while starting his career, but became proficient in them later--most likely to help defend himself against the army of liquored-up moviegoers who wanted bragging rights on the American Ninja.
Yes, Dudikoff tanked when he tried to move out from the ninja typecasting but really, the man's job description was 'pretending to kill lots of ninjas,' a statement which, to this day, is the number one response when the question "What do you want to do when you grow up?" is posed to preteen boys and Cracked writers (We know, you thought Cracked writers were preteen boys. The two are actually distinguishable due to the difference between acne scars and actual acne).
Most Epic Moment Caught on Film:
In this trailer for American Ninja (which was originally and ruinously called American Warrior) Dudikoff covers every base for the modern badass. He's got no past, no date of birth and no mercy. Shit, does anybody know how you get a job writing these trailers? That is gold right there. He flips through trees, impales a truck driver with a grappling hook, draws a sword in front of a giant American flag, and though it's not explicitly shown, the implication is that he's about to take down a helicopter with nothing but a bow and arrow.
If you look up the term Ass Kicker in the dictionary, there will be a picture of nothing--because it's a fucking dictionary, they don't have pictures--but we swear to God the page smells a little bit like Michael Dudikoff.The Sad Decline:
American Ninja was about Private Joe Armstrong, an orphaned drifter coerced into the armed forces who takes on an evil cabal of mercenary ninjas. In later sequels, as the movies grow more and more ridiculous, the villains take the not often seen Skittles approach to evil, asking you to "Taste the Rainbow... of Ninjitsu!" They do this by arranging their mercenaries in handy battalions color-coded by competence, black, confusingly, being the most inept, with the danger level rapidly rising as the colors become more festive.
After the fourth installment and roughly eight film hours of robin's egg blue and peony pink ninjas folding in fights so quickly they could find alternate employment at The Gap, the series finally ran out of steam and Michael Dudikoff's star was irreparably tarnished. Amazingly, Hollywood could find no further use for a man whose skill-set included strangling Asians with the American flag, and so as the '80s drew to a close, the post-coital shame dawned on America, and we realized just how embarrassingly ridiculous these movies appeared to the world.Most Pathetic Moment Caught on Film:
This video was taken at the grand opening of the Gracie Academy. As you can see, somehow Dudikoff got it in his head that it'd be a good idea to emulate Matthew McConaughey's pot-head, frat-bro, burn-out chic. He appears here in an unwashed Abercrombie & Fitch shirt, natural coagulated hair-grease, and last week's stagnant tan-booth sweat. He then proceeds to insanely call out Royce Gracie, three-time winner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Even if this challenge by Dudikoff is a joke between friends it's unfortunate since Gracie's laughter is a Figure Four Toelock and his smile is six-time International Facial Gesture Champion--with 16 of its 72 wins, inexplicably, by choke-out.