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  Avenging Force Dude!
Year: 1986
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Stars: Michael Dudikoff, Steve James, James Booth, William Wallace, John P. Ryan, Karl Johnson, Marc Alaimo, Allison Gereighty, Loren Farmer, Rick Boyle, Sylvia Joseph, Robert Taylor, Bruce Johnson, Robert Cronin, John Wilmot, James Borders, Kane Hodder
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A couple of American Secret Service agents are stumbling through the Louisiana bayou, desperately trying to get away from their pursuers. One of them is a masked man wielding a samurai sword, and he has already injured an agent, though the two men manage to elude him by hiding under a log - but there are more assassins after them. Then, just as it appears they will finally reach the highway and civilisation, as they wade through the river another masked man rises up from the water and murders them. He is Professor Elliott Glastenbury (John P. Ryan), and he has revolution in mind...

There's only one man they can call in to combat this menace, and that's Chuck Norris! Oh, wait, Chuck wasn't available in spite of this film being written for him, so we'll have to call in Michael Dudikoff instead, and make it look like his previous hit American Ninja by getting the same director, Sam Firstenberg, and the same co-star, Steve James, and hope that lightning strikes twice. Avenging Force was a Cannon movie, one of the signature action extravaganzas that they produced during the eighties, and very similar in tone and plot to much of that output. With Dudikoff, they had a star of their very own.

He may not have been the most charismatic of actors, but he could handle himself convincingly in the action sequences, and often that was really all that was necessary because nobody was catching these for the dramatic stylings. As with many a Cannon movie, there were elements which came over as somewhat odd, for a start calling the main villain, a crazed white supremacist, Glastenbury which might have been a reference to ancient England but quite what that had to do with setting up an army of insurgents to take on the United States establishment was obscure. And that group were called Pentangle, though not the British folk band who may well have played at the Glastonbury Festival.

Nevertheless, it is unintentionally amusing to hear the folkies referred to as a massive threat to American security even if that's not who they're on about. Even more amusing is that Steve James plays Larry Richards, nothing funny about an African American running for the Sentate, but how about a kung fu expert running for the Senate: can you imagine many politicians kicking ass quite as decisively as Larry does here? And in his big action scene, he progressively loses more clothes for some reason, though the breeks stay on, thankfully. Anyway, this isn't meant to make you laugh, because this is actually very serious, as indicated by the way in which the film callously kills off even the nicer characters.

All to show what a bunch of rotters the neo-Nazis are when they're prepared to murder women and children to make sure they get their way - well, Mike isn't standing for that! One setpiece sees Richards on the campaign trail in New Orleans during Mardi Gras which descends into chaos when the baddies open fire, and there is a long stretch of the movie where it seems the screenwriter (James Booth, also appearing as Dudikoff's boss) was intent on bumping off as many of the Richards clan as he can, whereas our hero's sister Sarah (Allison Gereighty) is merely kidnapped for him to rescue during the extended finale. Unlikely as it may seem, John Woo might have been taking notes because passages of this resemble his Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Hard Target, and the climax to the Bond movie The Living Daylights bears a curious similarity to the ending here, albeit without the hilariously obvious stunt double for Ryan. But you knew what you'd be getting here, and that was enough for the fans. Music by George S. Clinton.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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