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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Avenging Force (Blu-ray)
Avenging Force (Blu-ray)
Kino // R // December 9, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted December 15, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

The Cannon Films action classic Avenging Force got a DVD release in Europe but never got upgraded from VHS in North American for whatever reason, despite the fact that it was and remains a very popular entry in their filmography. Kino-Lorber makes up for past transgressions with this release, a bit of a special edition, really, and it's about time.

Michael Dudikoff (of American Ninja fame) plays a special agent named Matt Hunter in this 1986 action extravaganza from the finest of the Cannon films directors, Sam Firstenberg (American Ninja, Delta Force III, Revenge Of The Ninja to name only a few of his classics!). Hunter's best friend and former secret agent Larry Richards (Steve James, also of American Ninja), is running for senate but a white power group known as The Pentangle don't much care for that idea.

When Hunter and Richards ride a float with Richards' family during a Mardi Gras parade, Pentangle leader Elliott Glastonbury (John P. Ryan of Runaway Train, Delta Force II) sees this as their time to strike and an assassination attempt leaves Richards' son laying dead in a pool of blood. Now, anyone who knows anything about anything knows that it's not a really wise move to be pissing of Michael Dudikoff and Steve James but that doesn't stop these maniacs from trying to force Richards out of the election.

Of course, Hunter and Richards team up to go after the Pentangle members and all is going well until a shirtless and insanely ripped Steve James takes a bullet to the chest. This leaves Hunter on his own to take the racist psychopaths down once and for all, but it certainly isn't going to be easy for him, especially when they kidnap his younger sister and force him into a survival game in which he'll be hunted down like an animal by their elite members in a sick game of sport.

Borrowing very heavily from The Most Dangerous Game, the script from James Booth (who also wrote Pray For Death and who plays one of the bad guys in the movie) starts things off with a bang and keeps the action coming fast and heavy. The film delivers the over the top gratuitous violence that made Cannon Films' output of this era as popular as it is and there are a few stand out action set pieces that really show what a fine eye for directing combat scenes Sam Firstenberg has. Though the Mardi Gras parade doesn't move much, a sign of a lower budget, he manages to make the scene exciting and intense by closing in on the main participants as the shoot out occurs. It's not exactly a new trick, but it works really well in this case.

Dudikoff and James make the most out of the real life friendship that they shared in this movie. Their camaraderie seems genuine and that gives their partnership in the film more believability than other movies of this ilk. While neither of them are what most would consider great actors they do a fine job with the material here, punching, kicking and shooting their way through the Pentangle members with style but without making it look too easy. John P. Ryan is great as the sadistic ringleader; he's malicious and sinister in the best kind of way.

While the movie isn't the most original, Avenging Force does an excellent job of delivering some decent tension, well executed and exciting fight scenes, and unbridled violence. Definitely a product of the eighties, it moves along at a very fast pace and remains an endlessly entertaining shoot'em up regardless of the fact that it has aged a little bit. Dudikoff and James are still a fun team and it's a shame that James' death from cancer at the age of forty-one stopped them from making more films together.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Avenging Force arrives on Blu-ray from Kino in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer from in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85.1. Colors are reproduced quite well here and they look consistently natural, as do skin tones. Some shots are a little softer than others but that would appear to be how the movie was shot. Detail is pretty solid and the image is remarkably clean from start to finish. You'll notice film grain, as you should, but no serious print damage, whatever elements were used were obviously in good shape. Black levels are pretty solid here and there are no problems at all with any edge enhancement or noise reduction. Yeah, this will do. Avenging Force looks very nice on Blu-ray.

Sound:

The only audio option for the feature is an English language Stereo track presented in DTS-HD lossless format. There are no alternate language options, subtitles or closed captions provided. There are no issues here, this track is just fine. Balance is good, depth and range are solid and the dialogue and score both sound quite nice. No issues with any hiss or distortion to note.

Extras:

Extras start off with a commentary track from Dudikoff and Firstenberg, and it's a great listen. The start off by talking about the opening scene, which oddly enough, neither of them were involved with (Dudikoff isn't in it and it was shot by the second unit)! From there they share some really enjoyable stories about some of the co-stars that Dudikoff appeared alongside in this film, shooting on location in Louisiana around New Orleans, the difficulties of making a movie in the middle of a swamp, some of the action set pieces and quite a bit more. Both of these men look back on this film really, really fondly and that comes through loud and clear with this really enjoyable commentary.

Dudikoff flies solo for an eleven minute video interview in which he talks about how he got into acting after his modeling career with a cameo on Happy Days and how he started off with comedic roles before becoming an unlikely eighties action icon. He then talks about his relationship with Steve James and Sam Firstenberg before sharing some stories from the Avenging Force shoot. He comes off as gracious, kind and very appreciative of his career. This is a really nice piece, be sure to watch it. Aside from that, we get a quick video intro to the feature from Firstenberg, a trailer for the feature, static menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

A fast paced and gritty eighties action movie gets a very nice Blu-ray release from Kino-Lorber. Avenging Force may not have ever received the domestic DVD release it deserved by better late than never! The movie holds up really well, a fun action film with some great set pieces and location shooting, and the Blu-ray looks and sounds very nice and features a strong selection of extras as well. Highly recommended for eighties action junkies!

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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