CANNON MONTH: Avenging Force (1986)

Originally a sequel to Invasion U.S.A.Avenging Force got horrible reviews upon release but why shouldn’t it? It’s a Cannon action movie made for people who wanted to watch and rent action movies. It’s also absolutely berserk in the best of ways, made by a dream team of director Sam Firstenberg (Ninja III: The DominationBreakin’ 2: Electric BoogalooAmerican Ninja), writer James Booth (Pray for Death) and stars Michael Dudikoff and Steve James.

Dudikoff is Captain Matt Hunter, a retired Secret Service agent who has retired to his family’s cattle ranch with his sister Sarah and grandfather. After meeting Matt’s old military friend Larry Richards (James), he discovers that his friend is planning to run for senate but has had numerous threats on his life, which show up at a parade during which Larry’s son is killed.

Hunter traces the murder to the Pentangle, a far-right group that is devoted to gun rights and controlling immigration. If this movie feels a little too close to reality for those of us who have lived through the last decade, well, the Pentacle also has a hunting club where its elite members can hunt down human beings.

The Pentangle has five members for each point on the star and is led by Professor Elliott Glastenbury (John P. Ryan, the warden from Runaway Train), who wants to get Hunter to join. Somehow, they think that will happen after they kill his grandfather, Larry and his wife and take his daughter. Oh yeah — they also shoot him in the leg and execute Larry’s other son in front of him, so there’s no way he’s joining up. I mean, they plan on auctioning off his super young sister as a sex slave. Seriously, I’ve never seen a more horrible group of villains in my life. It’s like the filmmakers kept saying, “What if we really made them sleazier? And then they wore slasher costumes when they hunted people down?”

Hard Target is pretty much the same movie, when you think about it, but the villains in this are, again, the absolutely worst human beings that have ever lived. Avenging Force doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. It’s over the top lunacy in the best of ways and it feels good to watch Dudikoff wipe out a mansion filled with guys who definitely want to make America pretty, pretty good again.

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