Published on October 16th, 2012 | by Chris0
Missing In Action (1984)
I was going to watch this as part of the ongoing Worst War Movies Challenge, but you know what? This isn't actually all that bad of a movie. I'm being serious.
Missing in Action is not without its flaws. A lot of them. It can get predictably cheesy at times. It suffers from the 1980's "A-Team" action-itis where everything explodes when shot with a couple of bullets and does so in the biggest fireball possible. The pacing suffers, the direction and editing at time is a bit, I don't know, difficult....
...but at its core there's something there. And believe it or not, its Chuck. I mean, Mr. Norris, sir.
Back to the movie, though. We find one retired Col. James Braddock (Chuck Norris) brooding in a hotel room over the realization that there are still American POW's in Vietnam. He's burdened with the knowledge that he was once one of them, and should have done more to help the rest. He still can, it turns out, as the government has been trying to get him to go along on a fact finding mission. Back to Vietnam. You know how this is going to play out already.
He returns to Vietnam, and through his Chuck-like ways, finds out where the POW's are being held, and concocts a plan to get them out. Rummaging through the very convincingly portrayed underbellies of Saigon and Bangkok, he finds his old friend, Tucker (M. Emmett Walsh) and together they go on a FUBAR mission to rescue some American POW's, and the result is one of the better movie endings in 1980's war movie history. Oh, and along the way Braddock gets his revenge on the NVA officer who tortured him during his imprisonment.
Here's the thing (well things) actually that lead me to not trash this movie. 1) It actually isn't all that bad. Not compared to a lot of other recent efforts I've witnessed. In particular I found the portrayal of Saigon and Bangkok to be just about everything I've ever heard it was from those who were there. 2) Chuck quite convincingly pulls off the role of a troubled, guilt-ridden, anger-harboring Vietnam veteran who has unfinished business. From the hotel room scene right up through the scene at the press conference, Braddock is totally believable here. (Although, dude, its always hot in Vietnam. Always. Leave the leather jacket at home, man!) 3) That final scene is just a finger-in-the-eye and a great vindication for a lot of people watching, especially when it was released. Recall that at the time there was a very big Vietnam POW movement, and a lot of "cashing in" on that.
Of course, I haven't gotten to the sequels yet. So my opinion of the entire Missing in Action franchise will have to wait until that. Stacked up against its very similar contemporary counterpart Rambo: First Blood Part II, and the more serious, but also quite similar Uncommon Valor, it really holds up quite well. As a product of its time, that is. A couple of short years later, Oliver Stone would raise the bar significantly with Platoon, (and it was a very big deal) but remember that until then, this is what we had.
I have to give Missing in Action a full 3/5. That's probably too high, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much it didn't suck. I was remembering things a lot differently, and I might be remembering the sequels with that, we will see.
Currently the entire film is up on YouTube, but I won't link to it, since I don't know if it will stay that way.
Missing in Action [Blu-ray]
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American servicemen are still being held captive in Vietnam - and it's up to one man to bring them home in this blistering, fast-paced action/adventure starring martial arts superstar Chuck Norris. Following a daring escape from a Vietnamese POW camp, Special Forces Colonel James Braddock (Norris) is on a mission to locate and save remaining MIAs...
DVD InformationBinding: Blu-ray
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Original Release Date:
- Chuck Norris
- M. Emmet Walsh
- David Tress
- Lenore Kasdorf
- James Hong
Summary: Chuck Norris recovers American POW's from the jungles of Southeast Asia, as only Chuck Norris can.