Missing in Action

Senator Porter: "You are a damn embarrasment, Braddock."
Braddock: "That's why I'm here, senator."

release year: 1984
genre: action/adventure
viewing setting: home Bluray, 3/31/17 and 5/22/13

synopsis: A diplomatic effort to look into American POWs in Vietnam brings along a former soldier who's determined to do his own looking, the right way.

impressions: I hadn't seen this movie in so long, it wasn't in my review file. I'm guessing I caught it on HBO in the mid-1980s. Anyway, it's actually pretty good. You have to realize that this movie came before Rambo: First Blood part 2 and that fact invalidates any accusations of this movie copying that one. Chuck Norris brings us Braddock, who's tormented by memories of the war and the guys left behind. He reluctantly goes along on the diplomatic mission, puts up with all sorts of lies set up to make him look bad, realizes that the U.S. group is going to just sit there and not really do anything, and then he goes into action. Braddock just does what needs to be done: the first night, he sneaks out of his hotel, infiltrates the home of the evil enemy politician and forces him to confess about the POWs, then sneaks back into his hotel just in time to evade suspicion. Not long after these antics, he's planning his mission to singlehandedly go find and rescue the POWs. At that point, I realized what I should have known all along: Braddock didn't give a damn about the diplomatic mission, he just used it as a way to get where he needed to be so he could launch his own mission and get shit done. There are plenty of the tough-guy moments we'd come to expect from Braddock/Chuck: he downs a couple of beers and throws someone through a window, both staples of his movies. When a pimp tries to push Chuck, he stares the guy down until he flees. When there's negotiating to be done, he does it from behind a loaded M60. When he finds his way to the boat blocked by gun-toting enemies, he just hops in a truck and rams their cars into the river. He also kills one bad guy with an axe blade. When trapped in a tower and under heavy fire from another tower, he calmly jakcs a grenade into his grenade launcher and takes out the other tower, the way you or I would brush our teeth. Best of all, just when you think it's over, he's rescued the POWs and is leaving...trucks full of enemies show up to be slaughtered by Chuck. This is good stuff. The ending is funny too: as the Vietnamese politicians make a statement to the world about how there aren't and never were American POWs being held...Chuck and the rescued POWs burst in, exposing the lie. If only this had happened in real life.

asses kicked by Chuck Norris: 11

body count: 77 (53 by Chuck Norris, 24 by others)

random trivia: a pre-fame Jean-Claude Van Damme was a stuntman in this movie (I saw it in the credits)

acting: Chuck Norris does a fine job as a haunted military veteran who finally decides it's time to make things right. M. Emmet Walsh is an old friend who helps him. James Hong is an evil Vietnamese leader.

final word: Little-known and underrated Chuck Norris action classic.

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