Missing In Action Blu-ray Review
Being a child of the 80’s, you would have thought I had seen all of Chuck Norris’s action films, but truth be told, this MISSING IN ACTION Blu-ray was the first Norris-led film I had seen. My only other encounter with Chuck Norris was as the bad guy in Bruce Lee’s RETURN OF THE DRAGON. So there was no nostalgia for me while watching MIA and when it was all said and done, I felt like it wasn’t sure if it wanted to take itself seriously or not. At times, it seemed the filmmakers wanted to make a quality statement film about the Vietnam War, ala FIRST BLOOD. At others, it felt like they wanted to make a cheesy action film with an unbelievable tough guy that kills bad guys without breaking a sweat, ala COMMANDO. Unfortunately, MIA lacked the drama of Stallone’s film and the fun action of Schwarzenegger’s.
Chuck Norris is Col. James Braddock, a former Prisoner of War that is asked by his government to return to Vietnam on a political mission to help encourage the Vietnamese government to release more POW’s. Of course, the Vietnamese government denies there are any American POW’s and that’s when Braddock decides to take things into his own hands. I really like the idea of a Vietnam vet going back to Vietnam to rescue some POW’s. Prisoners of war seem to spark emotions in all people, even if they’ve never served or been around a veteran. So sticking an action hero like Chuck Norris in the middle and having him rescue POW’s is a great idea.
Like I alluded to earlier, the film could never decide what it wanted to be. We spent a good five minutes watching Braddock drink a beer in his hotel room while he flashed back to his time as a POW. The goal of the scene is to establish Braddock as being traumatized and angry that there are still POW’s in Vietnam, but for this film, it felt unnecessary and cheesy. There were small things that stood out as well, like the fact that Braddock never put on a helmet, cut his hair or broke a sweat, despite being in the Vietnam. It was the 80’s, I get that. I also liked that one of the Vietnamese political leaders ran the prison that Braddock was at. That gave the film a better emotional connection, but true to the film, they never effectively explored that dynamic and when the bad guys finally bought it, it felt anticlimactic.
As for the action in the film, it was a bit of a letdown. We know Chuck Norris can bust some heads, but in this, he spends most of his time throwing a single punch and the bad guys falling or firing an M-16 rifle and taking out entire armies. I guess that’s where the Chuck Norris jokes come from and admittedly, I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the situations. That doesn’t bode well for the film, but it at least makes it more enjoyable.
I’m not really sure who to recommend the film to, but my guess is that those that liked the film in the 80’s will probably enjoy it now. It needs to be taken with a grain of salt and if you watch it for the cheesiness and the trademarked Norris-isms, you’ll probably have a good time.
Video: For a film originally released in 1984, I have no complaints. In fact, I found myself impressed with some of the clarity in the Blu-ray, especially during the water scenes. Other scenes had their problems, but overall, fans of the film should be very pleased with the transfer.
Audio: The audio is in mono, which is a disappointment given all the bullets whizzing by, but for a mono transfer, it was sufficient.