The craptacular summer blockbuster season is rolling to a close with the release of G.I. Joe - The Rise of Cobra. I've already wasted that two hour block of my life and I can't get it back, but I can save you the trouble. Rather than soak up the B-Movie spectacle of nonsense that is the new Joe movie, why not take in some truly cheesy classics that helped to pave the way? MegaForce is so bad that it's not even available on DVD. People will most likely recognize it from the popular YouTube clip where Barry Bostwick attempts to land a flying motorcycle in the back of a cargo jet. It's spectacularly cheesy and it came out in 1982 right around the time that G.I. Joe figures with names like Snake Eyes and Stalker first hit the market. MegaForce was about as cool a movie as I could find when I was 7 years old, and it's probably about as goofy to us now as the new Joe movie will seem in 25 years.
American Ninja would be my pick for the 80's film that kicked the Ninja craze into high gear. It spawned a number of sequels and knock-offs, and it was itself riding the coat tails of Sho Kosugi's Ninja movies. Michael Dudikoff is an American G.I. who is also a Ninja--the perfect combination for action movie hijinks. To be fair, the first American Ninja movie is incredibly watchable and it's not unlike Bloodsport or any other of a number of movies where an unlikely guy is forced into a mission where he has to use his martial arts skills. If MegaForce explored the wacky side of G.I. Joe with heat-camoflaged jeeps and badass motorcycles piloted by guys who aren't afraid to wrap their perm in a headband, then American Ninja offered a little more grounded version of the ultimate 10-year old boy fantasy of playing Army and Ninja at the same time. Even today I think I enjoy both of these films more than most of the toy-shilling crap that's in the theaters.