Theme Song: The soundtrack for this movie was done by George S. Clinton who, despite having the same name as George Clinton, has had a very successful career scoring movies.
The second one is a slow burner, but you’re getting pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a mid-80s action movie: Synth stabs.
Interesting Dated References: Secret societies being something people were interested in and talked about.
Best Line: Said by an old man to a child — “Come on chatterbox, let’s have some coffee.” Said by man to a committee after losing almost all his friends and family to a gang of ruthless thugs — “You can tell the committee to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.”
Social Context: Conspiracy theories about secret societies have provided endless fodder for movies and books. People interested in secret societies are super boring and miserable to get into conversations with, however, that doesn’t stop them from babbling on endlessly about and writing action movie scripts about secret societies that hunt and kill human prey.
Summary: The Most Dangerous Game basically spawned an entire sub-genre of movies, and this one of them. So as to avoid confusion, Avenging Force opens by showing us exactly what the movie is going to be about: A secret, elite group of masked men hunting and killing not so secret and/or elite maskless men in the swamps of Louisiana.
Various costumed members of the group stalk and kill two unfortunate men. The hunters all look like rejects from some 90s nu-metal band.
There’s White Facemask Guy, Bondage Mask Guy, Plain Handkerchief-face Guy, and Sort-of Femme Mardi Gras Mask Guy. It’s not a very intimidating bunch. In fact, if I saw them all together in one place I’d start to worry about what type of terrible music they were going to perform.
Then we switch to a peaceful Matt Hunter (Michael Dudikoff) on the ranch with his younger sister and grandpa. I don’t think it relates to the plot of this movie very much, but “Matt Hunter” is the same character Chuck Norris played in Invasion U.S.A. Technically this is a sequel to Invasion U.S.A., although it doesn’t really matter since the only thing this movie has in common with the other is the character name “Matt Hunter” and his occupation (retired Secret Service).
The group then heads off to New Orleans to visit Hunter’s childhood friend, Larry. Larry is played by Steve James (RIP) who was a sidekick to either Dudikoff or Chuck Norris in a few movies including American Ninja and Delta Force. Man, is he good looking and buff.
Larry is running for senate and alludes to a secret group named Pentangle that has been harassing him with phone calls. Let’s hope for Larry’s sake it isn’t the British folk-jazz band Pentangle. That would be a fucking nightmare of baroque-folk-jazz from the 70s harassing you via telephone. I can’t even imagine what a nightmare that would be.
After a late lunch, Hunter and company all head downtown to a Mardi Gras parade. Our hero gets some type of premonition and notices this suspicious looking band member:
Totally suspicious sunglasses. All of the suspicious band members break out Uzi’s and start shooting at Larry and his family, killing his son. Hunter takes off on a rooftop chase after some guy.
You’ve never seen so much ducking and rolling. It’s almost absurd. Another absurd thing was the fact nobody at the Mardi Gras parade appeared to be drunk. Also of note, as soon as the shooting broke out the entire crowd vanished, only to all immediately reappear when the paramedics were hauling away the bodies.
Meanwhile, in a swank mansion on the other side of town, there is a karate demonstration by The American Survival Association.
A guy named Elliott (Sort-of Femme Mardi Gras Mask Guy) gives a long rant about race, guns, and right wing politics. I’m breezing past it because at points he starts to sound like one of Mel Gibson’s voicemails, mixed with some type of white power speech. Elliott is played by John Ryan who was in It’s Alive.
All the other masked men from the opening hunting scene are at the karate demonstration/white power meeting, including Masked Bondage Guy, who looks exactly like Tom Hardy in the movie Bronson.
While all that’s going on, Hunter gets a rundown from his former Secret Service boss, Admiral Brown, of what the Pentangle group is all. This guy playing the boss (James Booth, who also wrote the script) is somewhat suspicious and I think we’re not supposed to have guessed he’s the missing fifth member of Pentangle. That whole genre of British folk-jazz-prog-fusion stuff has to be the worst music ever made. Brown tells Hunter that Pentangle hunts humans and implies he should get involved in the hunt (not because his last name is Hunter).
Vintage Superdome. Senator Larry agrees to some type of television interview that is obviously a total ambush.
Then an even more insane amount of ducking and rolling ensues for like 30 minutes. I think we all understand that if you’re jumping down a distance in excess of 7 feet it may be necessary to bend on impact and roll out of it, but there’s no reason to duck and roll twice when you are walking on a level surface and there isn’t even anyone shooting at you.
I can’t emphasize enough how unsafe this cargo-loading dock they are running on looks. There really is a lot of action: fistfights, shootouts, etc. After a bunch of that one bad guy escapes, Hunter and Larry decide to go to Rancho Dudikoff to unwind with their families and a bunch of Secret Service bodyguards.
Unfortunately, Pentangle decides to go as well, and use their cutting edge (at the time) infra-red goggles. Remember when night vision was red? It was red all throughout the 80s, maybe even into the 90s. Then all of a sudden everyone realized it was actually green. So Pentangle firebombs the ranch with fire and baroque-pop harmonies and then this happens (edited for content):
There’s a lot we can talk about here. Sure it’s a little cheesy and over the top, but it was the 80s and this was a Cannon action movie, so that can be expected. I’m more impressed by whichever stuntman did the ridiculous fall off the rooftop with the child-doll. Yeah it looks comical, but I’ll be surprised if he didn’t get injured. It’s a little ridiculous. So Pentangle successfully abducts Hunter’s younger sister.
One minute later he finds her in some type of shanty-town that doubles as Pentangle HQ being prepped for prostitution. He grabs her and heads off into the swamp to escape, and thus begins the hunt for Hunter.
Unfortunately Hunter has a large stick with which he defeats White Facemask Guy. He is then able to overpower Bondage Mask Guy with a swift kick to the groin. Whoever did the post-production sound for this movie apparently used the sound of bacon frying to represent the downpour of rain.
Oddly, as Hunter runs around killing the guys who look like they could be in a shitty, local, nu-metal band, his sister is running around looking like a girl who would be into listening to a shitty, local, nu-metal band.
Then Hunter kills Elliott (Sort-of Femme Mardi Gras Mask Guy) in his mansion and the movie ends with him implying to the Secret Service boss that he knows his deep secret about being the fifth member of Pentangle. Then the movie ends.
Poster and Box Art: The Betamax box for this features an excellent, well-painted illustration. Dudikoff looks like Dudikoff, and you get a vague sense he’s being hunted. Mission accomplished.
Here are a few other posters. It should be noted this movie was made during Cannon’s wild blitz of mid-80s action films. In fact, it seems like it was made in such a hurry it was originally announced as Night Hunter, and slated Norris set to star, and once with Dudikoff in the starring role:
But hey, we understand, the mid-80s were a confusing time for coked-up movie producers. I should also note that this was directed by Cannon mainstay Sam Firstenberg (American Ninja, American Ninja 2, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo).
Availability: Avenging Force has only been released on DVD in the UK. But as interest in Cannon and their films increases, we may see this issued in some type of retrospective.