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Review Avenging Force (1986): Should have been a franchise!

genre: action, drama, thriller







If you are a fan of the American Ninja franchise then very likely you have heard of this title. While director  Sam Firstenberg, writer / actor James Booth (screenplay American Ninja 2), composer George S. Clinton, Michael Dudikoff and Steve James all return in this film it is far removed from the more light hearted and fun spectacle that American Ninja offered. Instead you get served an immensely dark and disturbing tale of a group of extreme right people who for some reason feel threatened by every non white in existence and pro actively want to end the supposedly increasing coloured threat.

They start this enterprise by attempting to take out Larry Richards played by Steve James who is running for senator. Friend. Capt. Matt Hunter (Michael Dudikoff) is there to support him. Matt did not come alone as he is accompanied by his grandpa and little sister. At a Mardi Gras parade the Pentangle make their move but Matt manages to prevent Larry from getting killed. Unfortunately Larry's oldest son is shot and doesn't survive the attack. Sadly this is only the beginning of the tragedy. I won't unfold the events since not knowing will certainly have an impact on you if you are human that is. It is this event and other events that make you root for main character Matt and his war against the Pentangle. A lot of emphasis is put on the dramatic elements which in return make the action sequences more intense and compelling. The action itself is choreographed adequately but it may be less stylish and flashy compared to American Ninja. Considering the serious tone this is not surprising besides not needed since you do feel there is a lot at stake.

The members of the Pentangle are some of the most ruthless and evil villains you will encounter in B movie world. They are having far too much fun killing people. They even constructed a whole game for their blood-lust where they hunt for skilled and worthy opponents somewhere in the Bayou near New Orleans. If this sounds familiar then you are right. This topic has been done a couple of times in several films (The Most Dangerous Game, The Running Man, Surviving the Game). The one that comes the closest in my opinion is John Woo's Hard Target. Anyway it is very satisfying to see the nasty villains get what they had coming. 

Avenging Force clearly was intended as a franchise since it ends with the possibility of a sequel. One that never came. I really don't understand why since Avenging Force does a lot of things right. Yes it might have been a little too dark. However they could have changed the tone somewhat in the sequel and could have made it more in the same vein as the American Ninja films where fun and spectacle were at the foreground. Then again I really would not have minded to see Michael Dudikoff go all Charlie Bronson. The darker the better. Another fun fact is that Avenging Force is a sequel to Invasion U.S. A. with Chuck Norris who plays the Matt Hunter character. I don't really know how to feel about this since Invasion U.S.A. is too silly for words and doesn't really compare to Avenging Force but I guess I have to watch that film again to compare the two.  

Avenging Force is a very underrated film especially since it is filled with tragic events that got to me since the events in this film are closer to reality than ever. And like usual George S. Clinton again delivers a soundtrack that adds to the viewing experience. So if you have missed this one you owe it to yourself to watch it at least once!






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