You know, the sort of movie that they cobbled together over at Cannon Films a lot in the 80′s.
Half-assed plot, some C grade actors, inept directing, and laughable action, but enough poorly staged action, gunfire, and explosions to keep you entertained for the duration.
That is as long as you’re a fan of bad 80′s action movies, otherwise well you’re kinda out of luck.
But we here at JITB like our action movies poorly made and from the Reagan era, so Avenging Force worked just fine. It stars everyone’s favorite male model turned American Ninja, Michael Dudikoff and the guy who played his best buddy in the first two American Ninja films Steve James.
Now anyone who has seen American Ninja, also a Sam Firstenberg classic, knows that the dynamic starring duo of this film is great at pretending to be tough. Dudikoff isn’t the greatest action star, usually tasked with fighting slowly, and waving guns at bad guys until they fall down, but we love him cause he’s such a nice guy. James on the other hand is pretty beefy, has a sweet mustache, and could probably beat you up in real life. He’s an unfortunately forgotten man from a bygone time, and he was pretty awesome. He brings a bit of class to the proceedings, having to support the dramatic moments of the film and all.
So the films starts off with two guys running through some swamp lands being chased by some bad dudes in wacky outfits. There’s ninja with a facemask bad guy, bondage gear bad guy with trident, bad guy with bandanna, and then guy with funny face mask who strangles people. It turns out they’re playing a swampy version of The Most Dangerous Game, you know, people hunting. They finally eventually manage to kill the dudes they’re chasing and we find out that these shall be the main villains of the film, which isn’t really promising, cause three of the four of them are pervy looking old white guys.
I mean come on, one of them is introduced, sitting up in a tree, wearing a stupid looking mask and smoking a pipe, like a fancy, old white guy pipe. It’s hardly threatening.
We’re introduced to Michael Dudikoff in the next scene, he’s wearing a cowboy hat, doin’ cowboy stuff, on a ranch, and takin’ care of his kid sister. So we come to know that he’s a pretty nice guy, despite having the sort of government agency past that would give him the skills necessary to kill a bunch of bad guys. He takes his sister, and his wacky uncle on a trip to New Orleans to visit Steve James.
I know what you’re thinking, people hunting and New Orleans, what is this Hard Target?
Steve James is a running for some sort of political office and is going to be in the Mardi Gras parade, his whole family is gonna be there, waving at people and generally looking wholesome.
UH OH, turns out that the group of bad guys are not only white, but they’re rich, evil and RACIST. They don’t like the idea of a black dude as awesome as Steve James being in office, so they send they’re crappy assassin, and a bunch of thugs to kill Steve James. Unfortunately for the bad guys, Michael Dudikoff spots them, but not before they can start their killing. They don’t manage to kill Mr. James, they just manage to shoot one of his sons. Which really kinda sucks. So Dudikoff kinda fails in that regard, even though he manages to fight off a number of other goons.
And with this sad turn of events Dudikoff and James have to uncover a conspiracy, stop some shitty white dudes, and get revenge. The thing is avenging force doesn’t really end nearly as happily as you’d expect, the amount of avenging in the film isn’t nearly sufficient given the amount of bad stuff that happens to the good guys throughout the course of the film. Avenging Force turns kinda mean spirited.
So they start to take action.
Which means they get a call from the bad guys, and decide that the best course is to drive their truck directly into an ambush. In doing so they use the logic of “We’re the main characters so we can’t possibly die this early in the movie.” So they have a car chase, shoot some guys and then drive across New Orleans in the course of about 2 minutes and finish with a chase/shootout in some sort of abandoned factory/shipyard.
At some point they find out that it’s the evil white guys who’re trying to kill them.
Unsuccessful in killing our heros the evil white guys decide that the best course of action is to murder the shit outta Steve James’ family some more, cause you know, they’re douche bags like that. Because there’s some sort of leak in the agency that Dudikoff used to be a part of the bad dudes find out the James’ family is staying at Dudikoffs’ cowboy house. They show up and manage to kill all of the inept guards, set the house on fire, capture both hero’s family members and fuck up everything .
But James and Dudikoff show up on the scene, just in time to try and rescue Jame’s remaining son who’s stuck in the burning house.
Remember when I said that the movie was gonna get unfriendly? Well James dies in the fire after getting shot with an arrow, Dudikoff manages to get his son to the roof of the house, but the bad guys shoot at them both, which makes them fall of the roof, which kills the kid, and the bad guys also blow away James’ wife.
So yeah the wholesome family of black people in the movie gets murdered by the evil white guys. It’s fucking harsh.
So the bad guys kidnapp Dudikoff’s little sister and tell him that in order to save her he’s got to play their most dangerous swamp game.
Does he get her back? Does he stop the evil white guys? Does he forcefully avenge things?
Yeah I guess so.
For the most part Avenging Force is alright if you’re a fan of mediocre action films from the 80′s and 90′s. It’s not much better or much worse than most of the crop from that era, and has a decent amount of silliness.
It’s got almost competent action, the bad guys chew scenery like they’re starving, and they wear wacky costumes. It’s not a classic, mostly because it lacks the general insanity of a film like American Ninja, it just isn’t quite as memorable, which I guess might explain why it’s not currently in print. I found the movie enjoyable, it just hasn’t really stuck with me all that much.
I guess the movie’s biggest problem is actually the fact that once Steve James dies, the movie goes from Avenging Force to Avenging Dudikoff, which just isn’t as good. Cause as much as I like the guy, he’s always better with people to play off.
Though interestingly enough in a few other countries this movie was released as a sequel to Amerian Ninja, called American Warrior II. I think it’sa little silly to pretend that they’re in the same series, cause there’s a lot less ninja stuff in this one, but the foreign poster is certainly a lot more freedomtastic than the domestic one. I think it’s pretty awesome really.