In honor of Chuck Norris's 75th birthday, I decided to watch one of his most famous movies. Chuck plays Colonel Braddock, who was captured in battle during the Vietnam War, held in a P.O.W. camp, and managed to escape. Flash forward to the '80s. Braddock is plagued by nightmares about his ordeal and very vocal about the fact that American military personnel listed as missing in action are still being held in Vietnam.
To prove it, Chuck flies to Vietnam with a senator to testify in front of the Vietnamese government. Needless to say, Vietnamese officials do not appreciate that Braddock is speaking out because his allegations happen to be true. They do their best to keep Braddock from finishing his testimony. Braddock eludes them and finds his old Army buddy Tucker is living in country. They take Tucker's boat, which is even less seaworthy than the Orca, upriver to liberate the camp. There's lots of shooting, explosions, karate bad-assery, and shots of Chuck showing off his manly chest hair and sculpted abs.
I wanted to like this movie, I really did. Chuck Norris was a hero of mine growing up because of Walker, Texas Ranger. His performance in Missing In Action leaves a lot to be desired. The action sequences and stunts were good. I'm also a big fan of Vietnam War movies; Platoon ranks high on my list of all-time favorite movies. The plot of Missing In Action reminded me a lot of another '80s action movie set in postwar Vietnam, Uncommon Valor. That movie starred Gene Hackman as a retired Marine on a mission to find his P.O.W. son and costarred Patrick Swayze. Uncommon Valor had memorable characters, which is an element that seems to have been left out of Missing In Action.
Nevertheless, I have to give Missing In Action credit for being popular enough to spawn a prequel and a sequel. The prequel Missing In Action 2: The Beginning deals with Braddock's experiences in the P.O.W. camp and how he escaped from it. This sounds like it has the potential to be a much better movie, as the events in it could explain why Braddock is so emotionless in the original. Judging from the plot summary alone, Braddock: Missing In Action III sounds like it was just slapped together to cash in on Chuck's popularity.