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The Avenging Angel [VHS]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Berenger, Charlton Heston, James Coburn, Fay Masterson, Kevin Tighe
  • Directors: Craig R. Baxley
  • Writers: Dennis Nemec, Gary Stewart
  • Producers: Dennis Nemec, Heather Lowe, Jay Benson, Lee Ann Martin, Moctesuma Esparza
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: April 30, 1996
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303477135
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,162 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Miles Utley (Tom Berenger) is a guerrilla for God, a gun-wielding member of the Danites, the militia wing of the Mormons during the late 19th century. Once the defensive arm of the besieged church, the Danites (dubbed "the Avenging Angels") are now feared by the Utah congregation and Utley is too good at his job: he's become, one accuser says, "A man who murders in the name of peace." After stopping an assassination attempt on the life of Brigham Young (a quietly authoritative Charlton Heston, whose star presence makes the most of a handful scenes), Utley is quickly hidden away and the details hushed up, but as he pulls at a few loose threads he unravels a conspiracy that shoots to the very top of the church. The twisting plot makes for an engrossing mystery and the locations are never less than gorgeous, but the real hook is that this conspiracy film is inspired by a real but little-known bit of Mormon history. Berenger is a natural as a buckskinned, quick-draw Mormon soldier, holding his own in scenes with grinning Western icon James Coburn as Utley's easygoing but ruthlessly dedicated mentor. As the mystery winds up, the more interesting dimension of Utley's crisis in faith is transformed into showdown heroics, which makes for a rousing old-fashioned conclusion if a disappointing character study. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

The DVD was in good shape.
Jane Pennock
Tom Berenger & James Coburn chew the scenery, and Charleton Heston is perfect as Brigham Young.
Raymond J. Braguglia
This is a very good movie about that very theme.
Leo Younglowe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 31, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While this movie is written as fictional, it has so much historical accuracies that except for a few of the names being made up, this could easily be categorized as Historical and factual. Tom Berenger is OUTSTANDING as Miles Utley, the Avenging Angel. James Coburn was also up to the task in what was one of his last films. He portrayed the TRUE to life Avenging Angel, Porter Rockwell. Violence in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' early history is all too often overlooked or ignored completely in our history books. But, the Mormons(a nickname placed upon the members of the LDS Church) were treated horribly for the first 25 years after their founding. Porter Rockwell was one of the few people of any faith or persuasion that could and did give his all to protect the Members of his Faith. Berenger portrays an apprentice of Rockwell's but in reality, the movie is really about the Young Orin Porter Rockwell, the original and most love and feared Avenging Angel. I can not recommend this movie highly enough. I waited for a decade and a bit to finally see this movie come out on DVD. The quality of the movie is well done, it's transfer from VHS to DVD is outstanding and were it possible, I would buy this movie by the hundreds just to give away to my friends and family.

This Movie is NOT and expose of Latter Day Saints or the Church, it is NOT an attack piece, it is NOT a movie that pokes and jabs at the Faith of the Members of the Church, Church Leadership nor was it done to make light of a serious part of our Nation's history. The early days of the Church as has been portrayed only a few times throughout celluloid history was a very violent and deadly (to it's members) and extremely turbulent time.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of those stories that is fiction but with just enough historical fact thrown in to either make it interesting and entertaining or infuriating. Kind of like "Hogan's Heroes".
The story is set in Utah of the 1870's with the Mormon theology as it's backdrop. It's has as accurate fact that Brigham Young (played excellently by Charleton Heston) was president and prophet of the Church, Porter Rockwell (also played well by James Coburn) was a roguish gunfighter/protector of the faith, that the culture was relatively closed, paranoia existed (for good reason, the Mormon Church up to that time was severely persecuted, including it's first president murdered), and Utah is a pretty place. The fiction in the movie is the Tom Berrenger character, the conspiracy against Brigham Young by church leaders and a few other notable historic errors throughout.
That said, the movie is well done and interesting. The Tom Berrenger character is complex, trying to justify his gunfighting actions with his beliefs. He is a man driven by his faith and it's refreshing to see a strong Western character with that motivation (instead of the more typical genre motivation of revenge) and Berrenger plays it well.
The other parts of the movie plot are fairly standard: gunfights, horseplay, ropin', good guy overcoming the odds and numerous hired guns, etc. Yet I found the setting to be interesting and the movie to be enjoyable.
If not taken on it's historical merits, then it's a film to be recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 29, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Whether or not this movie was based on fact or fiction, or both, it was very well done, very intense, with an excellent cast, and for those of us who believe in God, it is a movie well worth spending the money and time on to watch it, many times over. I only regret that it has not yet been released on a DVD, as that would make it even that much more enjoyable! DVD's are fantastic, and usually have so much extra information added to them, that they are worth investing in!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Quebec on April 28, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This movie, along with "Rough Riders", is another fine example of Tom Berenger's (& TNT's) talent for taking a historical setting, fictionalizing it (in a realistic way), putting in some subtle social/political commentary (disguised in a historical setting, kind of like the way science-fiction writers do it), & adding entertaining elements (in this case, rousing action sequences & romance to boot!) to make a story that both entertains & educates at the same time.
Most people who wouldn't be able to sit through a history class would, at the same time, enjoy movies like this. (I'm a history buff, but my friends aren't. However, when I had them over for a "movie-night" get together at my house, they really got into the conspiracy murder plot & they loved the action sequences & love story, as well as seeing Coburn & Heston in their roles as real-life historical figures.)
Berenger, as producer & star, knows how to choose a thoughtful subject for a film. This movie, in a historical context, is really about religious faith & the different levels of belief. His character, Miles Utley, is devoted to the Mormon church, which is both his strength AND his weakness, since he kills an innocent man at the beginning, in the name of God. As the film progresses, he uncovers a plot to murder Brigham Young (Charlton Heston, the former "Moses" from "The Ten Commandments!") by subordinates who wish to take over the church, in order to "save" it, according to their own beliefs & purposes.
With today's events & headlines concerning both "The War on Terror" & the Catholic Church abuse scandals (and cover up), this movie's theme is especially poignant today.
Historical dramas serve the same purpose as science-fiction stories. They make the audience think about current issues without preaching.
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