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Avenging Force
USA | 1986 | 104 min | 35mm
narrative | section: Restorations and Rediscoveries
Premiere Status: Special Presentation

directed by: Sam Firstenberg
writer: James Booth
cinematographer: Gideon Porath
editor: Michael J. Duthie
music: George S. Clinton
producer: Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus
cast: Michael Dudikoff, Steve James, John P. Ryan, James Booth
One of the greatest pieces of action schlock cranked out by Cannon Films, the kings of 80s exploitation, Avenging Force is the ultimate vehicle for Cannon superstar Michael Dudikoff. The American Ninja star plays the ironically named Matt Hunter, a retired military intelligence officer who is now full-time caretaker for his little sister, Sarah (an oddly dubbed Allison Gereighty). Matt decides to help out as security for his pal Larry (Dudikoff’s American Ninja co-star Steve James), a black senate candidate who’s been receiving death threats from a racist, fascist group calling themselves the Pentangle. After tragedy strikes and Sarah is kidnapped, Matt finds himself as prey in the Pentangle’s semi-regular manhunt. But the Pentangle has tangled with the wrong Hunter! Pre-dating the John Woo/Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner Hard Target by seven years, this Cannon classic shares that film’s New Orleans locations and a screenplay inspired by Richard Connell’s oft-ripped off short story, The Most Dangerous Game. The fun cast also includes Zulu star James Booth (he also wrote the script!) and, as the blood-thirsty Pentangle head, character actor John P. Ryan (Runaway Train). Ryan gives a fantastic, foaming-at-the-mouth turn as the not-so-threateningly-named Elliot Glastenbury and, in his final mano a mano showdown with Dudikoff, Ryan’s performance is equally matched by his be-wigged stunt double.

- Jim Healy
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