The King of Action genre, who is famous in our country and in the world, mostly for the classic of the video market AMERICAN
NINJA, Sam Firstenberg, was born on March 13, 1950 as Shmulik Firstenberg in a rapidly thinning Jewish community in post-war
Poland. From there, he and his parents moved to the United States a few years later, where Shmulik adopted the name Sam and
began film studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. While still at school, he began working as a general assistant
in the famous factory for the cheap action flicks CANNON FILMS of the legendary Israeli film producer Menahem Golan and his
partner (and cousin) Yoram Globus. He gradually climbed within the company to become a assistant director and later a director,
and while he ran around the sets with a coffee and a broom, he also shot several shorts (SIMPATYA BISHVIEL KELEV). He later
drew more attention to himself with his first feature film, the social drama ONE MORE CHANCE (1983), which won a prize at
the Chicago Film Festival.
"Before I was offered directing REVENGE OF THE NINJA in CANNON, I had never heard the word ninja in my life. But
I was young, eager, and didn't want to miss such an opportunity, so I made them think I knew everything about ninjas. The
star of the film Sho Kosugi then took me under his wings and introduced me deeply to the whole concept."
In the same year, his employers finally decided to give him a chance and entrusted him with directing REVENGE OF THE
NINJ (1983), a sequel to Golan's two-year-older film ENTER THE NINJA, which evoked a complete ninja mania. One of the main
reasons for the film's success and its sequel was that it introduced Asian fighter Sho Kosugi to martial arts films for the
first time. Throwing shurikens, blowing poisoned darts, catching arrows with bare hands and teeth, and brandishing a katana,
Kosugi was literally a revelation that seemed much more credible than traditional domestic fighters like other Cannon star,
Chuck Norris. In the first film, Kosugi has played the opponent of the much less flexible but more famous Franco Nero, however,
in the second he has already playing a positive hero role and the villain was an American actor for a change. That it was
a good choice was evident by the large success of the franchise, a total of three parts.
"NINJ III: THE DOMINATION is without a doubt the strangest ninja film of all time and the only one with a woman as
Since Cannon's philosophy was to spew sequels one after the other, the following year, Firstenberg followed up on both
successful films with the no less enthusiastically accepted third installment NINJ III: THE DOMINATION (1984), again with
Kosugi. But this time he was seconded by the dancer Lucinda Dickey In the role of a woman possessed by the spirit of an evil
ninja, whom Firstenberg also cast in his next, somewhat atypical film for him shot in that same year. It was a sequel of the
cult music film for young people BREAKINī, based on a period break dance fever, called BREAKINī 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. After
the film's release, the term "electric boogaloo" became known as a term for "every stupid sequel."
"Michael Dudikoff was the perfect idol for young people in the AMERICAN NINJA with his rebellious approach a la James
Dean. I also rank the American NINJA among my favorite pieces, precisely because of his reluctant hero, juicy villains and
innocent love plot."
And then came Firstenberg's magnum opus (the greatest achievement of an artist or writer) and, since his feature debut,
the first non-sequel film, AMERICAN NINJA (1985). The response of the first three CANNON ninja films convinced Golan and Globus
of the need to release another ninja series. Kosugi was replaced in it by the former men's model Michael Dudikoff, who, by
the way, already blinked in NINJA IS COMING, but he didn't even make it to the headlines. Dudikoff made the film famous overnight,
making it the rising action star of Cannon's action B-production. He and Firstenberg then met twice more, at the second AMERICAN
NINJI (1987) and the solid survival Avenging Force (1986). It is generally believed that Firstenberg is responsible for the
best films in Dudikoff's career.
"David Bradley attracted women like a magnet. I've never seen anything like it. We went to any bar, he always left
hanging on to two girls. We made two films in Africa, one film each in the Philippines and Israel, and he always found one
This was followed by the forgotten RIVERBEND (1989) with Dudikoff's black partner from the AMERICAN NINJA series Steve
James and the third, weakest part of another popular CANNON series, DELTA FORCE (1991), without Chuck Norris. Firstenberg
then began a fruitful collaboration with a new rising action star, David Bradley, who, after the second installment, replaced
Dudikoff in the AMERICAN NINJA (both appeared in a fourth one). CYBORGCOP (1993) and CYBORGCOP II. (1994), with the last two
Firstenberg moving from the bankrupt CANNON in 1989 to the "CANNON of the 1990s" NU IMAGE. Since 1993, it has supplied
the video market with films such as the sequel to THE HUNTING OF SHADOWS, the OPERATION DELTA FORCE series (not to be confused
with the Cannon’s classic DELTA FORCE) or more recently all those CROCODILES, SPIDERS, OCTOPUSES, SHARK ATTACKS
and also horror videos by Jean-Claude van Damme and Steven Seagal.
"One morning at three in the morning, the phone rang and a voice on the other side asked me if I was the Sam Firstenberg
who directed MCCINSEY ISLAND with Hulk Hogan. The film was a terrible one that didn't make any sense, and some totally drunk
college students who had just seen the film on cable called me to tell me they liked it."
For NEW IMAGE, Firstenberg directed several more pearls, such as the mentioned OPERATION DELTA FORCE (1997), the action
film THE ALTERNATE (2000) and the horrific horror film SPIDERS II: BREEDING GROUND (2001). In addition, he has directed other
productions, such as the action comedy with Hulk Hogan MCCINSEY'S ISLAND (1998) or the thriller QUICKSAND (2004), where he
reunited with Michael Dudikoff years later, his most recent work being the curious sci-fi film THE INTERPLANETARY SURPLUS
MALE AND AMAZON WOMEN OF OUTER SPACE (2003), which is interesting in that that part of the footage comes from Ed Wood's lost
unfinished film AMAZON WOMEN OF OUTER SPACE, which Firstenberg completed.
Official and fan sites: www.samfirstenberg.com