Avenging Force (1986): Breakdown by Rutledal
A retired martial arts expert/army intelligence agent becomes the target of a racist organization after saving a senator’s life.
Between American Ninja and American Ninja 2, Michael Dudikoff and director Sam Firstenberg decided to make a less ninja-themed martial arts action movie. This was it. Also this, like the previously mentioned ninja flicks, co-stars Steve James as Dudikoff’s sidekick. It is also written by co-star James Booth, with whom Firstenberg was so pleased he would later hire to write American Ninja 2.
Before we get to the real stuff, I would like to bring up that Dudikoff’s character is named Matt Hunter. People who are, at least, mildly obsessed with action movies might recognize Matt Hunter as the character Chuck Norris played in Invasion USA. I don’t know if there is any connection between the two, but given that this is also a Cannon production, it’s possible this was supposed to be a sequel but Norris turned it down. Or maybe Invasion was supposed to be the sequel, but Norris would only do Invasion USA so they got separated into two films. Or maybe I’m just thinking too much into this.
One And The Same?
The movie hits the ground running with a great chase sequence between US agents and members of the so called Pentangle. Unfortunately it follows up by giving Dudikoff’s character one of those “entire back-story in one sentence” back-stories. A character just randomly and completely out of place tells Dudikoff “It wasn’t your fault, there was no way you could have known there was a bomb in the car” thereby explaining both why Dudikoff quit Army intelligence and why he has to raise his sister in one sentence. Anyways they (Dudikoff, his sister and grandpa Jim) are soon off to visit Steve James.
Now we are going to play a little game called finish the sentence. In this movie Steve James plays a: A: Martial arts champion, B: Army strong man, C: US senator, D: Intelligence agent. If you said C then you have obviously seen this movie before, because who/nobody thinks “You know who looks like a likely politician? Steve James”. Well, James has become a target of the Pentangle, because he’s black and they’re racist. Dudikoff prevents an attempt on James life thereby making himself a target for the Pentangle. Now Dudikoff and James must bring down the Pentacle.
As always Dudikoff sports the acting range of a clam, but it is however nothing compared to the actress playing his sister. She has to be the worst actress I have ever seen. That she never worked in movies again comes as no surprise. However, the supporting cast makes more than up for it. Steve James is as charismatic as always, John P. Ryan is almost frightening as the villain and Booth is excellent as the sneaky Admiral. All in all it’s a pretty good action film and I might be going out on a severed limb here, but I’m going to say that this is the best Dudikoff-Firstenberg(-James) movie out there.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Michael Dudikoff is Cpt. Matthew “Matt” Hunter
“Can you see Matt Hunter letting himself be taken alive?”
Admiral Brown doesn’t think so and neither do I. Because Matt Hunter is no quitter. Quite the opposite, he’s a…continuer(?). Anyways, Hunter is plenty badass and he hands out beatings all over the place. He sees the job trough and would sacrifice anything for his sister. He used to be the best agent in the G6, the Service’s elite of the elite, now he’s just the best.
[THE BODY COUNT: 33]
Avenging Force stacks up a quite decent amount of bodies, and there is plenty of non-lethal ass-kicking to go around. Dudikoff offs 10 bad-guys, while Steve James only gets a disappointing 2, both of questionable lethality. The rest of the kills belong to various members of the pentangle.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING]
I have to go with the Dudikoff-James freighter double feature fight. It cuts between Steve James beating up a guy and Michael Dudikoff beating up another guy. Twice the action, twice the ass-kicking, twice as awesome.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
I’m not even sure why they bothered to write a wife for Steve James’ character, as he and Dudikoff are obviously lovers. There is a scene where Steve James’ shirt literally just disappears. One second he’s wearing it, the next it’s gone. And when James gets shot and [spoilers] dies [spoilers] Dudikoff acts like he just lost everything dear to him in the world, and maybe he did. The bad-guys don’t help things either. I mean, just look at those costumes:
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
There were women in this movie? That was a bit of an overstatement. There’s Steve James’ wife that manages to utter a line or two before getting killed, and Dudikoff’s sister who, if she isn’t in a hospital, is getting kidnapped. Worthless.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
In the second to last showdown Dudikoff must face down against three of the Pentangles’ members. After having disposed of two of them he finds himself at one end of a swamp with a shotgun wielding baddie at the other end. Dudikoff sees no other option than to run straight across the swap while shotgun blasts and grenades fly around him.
Admiral: “Matthew, you’ve exceeded your authority. The Committee must know who the rest of these people are before you proceed any further.”
Matt Hunter: “You can tell the Committee to stick it where the sun don’t shine.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Michael Dudikoff loves his sister very much, and Hitler was wrong.
[THE CHECKLIST: 18 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Factory/Warehouse [Abandoned Freighter Ship]
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery [Grenade Launcher]
[X] Improvised Weapon(s) [A Stick]
[ ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s) *
[X] Manly Embrace(s) [Huge Grasp-Hug Combo]
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Steve James, Kane Hodder & BJ Davis]
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [Mardi Gras]
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
*He wears one of those masks-on-a-stick during Mardi Gras. I’m totally counting it.
Hold me now, don’t cry, don’t say a word, just hold me now.
Avenging Force (1986) © Cannon Film Distributors and Media Home Entertainment