The American Ninja series was five films, three of which starred Michael Dudikoff, which saw the title character White Ninja (aka Pvt. Joe T. Armstrong) raised up by a ninja clan, then somehow join the U.S. Army, then run into all sorts of situations requiring him to ninja the shit out of people. Every ninja trope ever invented is played out multiple times.
The titles were:
- American Ninja
- American Ninja 2: The Confrontation
- American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt
- American Ninja 4: The Annihilation
- American Ninja V
Funny story, the last one (featuring Pat Morita) was not even going to be an "American Ninja" movie, but the producers decided to slap the title on it post production, even though it had one of the American Ninja series actors playing an entirely different character.
Tropes found in these films:
- Action Dress Rip: Armstrong does that early in the 1st film. He rescues a young woman from kidnapping and needs her to move through jungle quickly. He breaks heels off her shoes, then cuts her tight skirt and ties the shreds to form less constricting shorts.
- American Title: Obviously.
- Arrow Catch: Michael Dudikoff's character does this in the second film.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: The Black Star Master ninja from the first film is the toughest of the bunch. Although as he's specifically a contractor hired to give ninja-style combat training to the villain's new private army rather than the master of an actual ninja clan, it's no surprise he's a lot better. (Whether his trainees are more loyal to him than their recruiter/employer is never quite addressed.)
- Badass Preacher: Dudikoff's character in the fourth film.
- Clone Army: Of cloned ninjas, in the third film.
- Defeat Means Friendship: In the first film, Sergeant Curtis Jackson and Joe become friends after Joe defeated him in a small fight, surrounded by their army colleagues.
- Evil Brit: The Bad Guy of the fourth film.
- Flashback — specifically the mid-battle kind. Dudikoff just loves to flash back to his training practicing slicing up watermelons before executing those moves on his human opponents.
- French Jerk: The villain of the first movie.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Ninja Joe is decked out in a black ninja outfit for the final battle. The enemy ninja army are also decked out in exactly the same black ninja outfit. The only way to identify Joe is by his red belt, which from many angles can't even be seen. It may just be a cunning plan on Joe's part.
- Highly Visible Ninja: At least some of the ninjas have brains enough to use some degree of stealth, but the majority are less stealthy than the bikers the Big Bad hires as extra mooks!
- Military Salute: In one scene, Joe Armstrong gets a butt-chewing from his boss, an Army colonel. After being dismissed, he salutes in a limp-wristed way, with his hand curved instead of straight, almost dismissively. Any officer worth his salt would send him to the brig for disrespecting an officer.
- McNinja: Joe Armstrong (from the first, second and fourth films) is an American G.I. who was adopted at birth by a ninja master and raised as one himself. His friend, Sean Davidson (from the third and fifth films) is also stated to be a ninja, who learned his skills from his father's friend and trainer, Izumo.
- Never Trust a Trailer: In the first film's trailer, the film was called "American Warrior" but the title was changed to "American Ninja" by the time the film was released.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt is this. Sean's been infected by a deadly virus and the plot of the movie is him and his friends battling to retrieve the cure. Ultimately, they fail (and one of them dies), but he's able to use his ninja powers to cure himself anyway.
- Stock Ninja Weaponry: The evil and good ninja alike all wield the entire list of these across all 5 films.
- Technicolor Ninjas: The fourth film takes this to Mortal Kombat levels; with red, blue, yellow and standard black colored ninja.
- The first film is one of the rare explainable cases: they're using bright red, yellow and blue outfits, but only on training courses where the ninja in different-colored outfits are clearly practicing different groups of activities. With everybody's faces still covered, the colors quite possibly help keep track of everybody to prevent recruits from slacking off or trading out of working on their weak areas. (It might have also helped while shooting those parts of the film.)
- Whip It Good: Happens in the fourth film.