If you think this year’s elections are messed up, just watch Avenging Force and see what happens when two martial artists run against each other for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Steve James plays Larry Richards, a former military commando who is now running for the Senate in Louisiana. His opponent is Wade Delaney (Bill Wallace), who is described as being “the South’s youngest senator” and who is also secretly one of the world’s greatest martial artists. Wade is a member of Pentangle, a Neo-Nazi cult that is made up of wealthy businessmen and other politicians. When Larry and his family are invited to ride a float in the most sedate Mardi Gras parade of all time, the Pentangle attempts to assassinate him. While Larry escapes injury, his oldest son does not.
Larry’s best friend, Col. Matt Hunter (Michael Dudikoff), is also in town and Hunter just happens to be another one of the world’s greatest martial artists. (This film leave you wondering if there’s anyone in Louisiana who isn’t secretly a ninja.) Matt tries to protect Larry and the remaining members of his family from Pentangle. Matt fails miserably. With Larry and the entire Richards family now dead, Matt goes deep into the Louisiana bayou, seeking both to rescue his sister (who has been kidnapped and is set to be sold at some sort of Cajun-run sex auction) and avenge Larry’s death.
As you probably already guessed, Avenging Force is a Cannon Film and it’s crazy even by that company’s fabled standards. It’s not often that you come across a movie about a U.S. Senator who is also a neo-Nazi ninja who spends his spare time stalking people through the bayous. What makes this plot point even more memorable is that no one in Avenging Force seems to be shocked by it. Matt isn’t surprised in the least when an elected official suddenly lunges out of the fog and attempts to drown him in swamp water. Of course, Senator Delaney isn’t the only villain in the film. In fact, he’s not even the main bad guy. That honor goes to Prof. Elliott Glastenbury (John P. Ryan), who lives in a huge mansion and who sees himself as a real-life version of The Most Dangerous Game‘s General Zaroff. He not only wants to secretly rule the world but he also wants to hunt human prey in the bayou. When Matt shows up at Glastenbury’s mansion, he is greeted by a butler who complains that Matt hasn’t bothered to wipe the blood off his shirt before showing up.
Avenging Force was originally planned as a sequel to Invasion U.S.A., with Chuck Norris reprising the role of Matt Hunter. When Norris declined to appear in the film, the connection to Invasion U.S.A. was dropped and Michael Dudikoff of the American Ninja films was cast in the lead role. (Of course, they didn’t bother to change anyone’s name in the script so the hero of Avenging Force is still named Matt Hunter, even if he’s not meant to be the same Matt Hunter from Invasion U.S.A.) What Dudikoff lacked in screen presence, he made up for in athleticism and Avenging Force features some Cannon’s best fight scenes. The plot may be full of holes but the idea of ninjas in the bayou is so inherently cool that it carries the film over any rough patches.
The critics may not have loved Avenging Force when it was first released but it holds up well as a fast-paced and weird action film. It is perhaps the best Cajun ninja film ever made.