Chuck Norris should have played GI Joe. I say that not because of his toughness or soldierly instincts, but for the fact he is around 8 inches tall in real life.
Put another way and trying to tiptoe around stereotypes – Missing in Action is set in SE Asia, where there aren’t too many Yao Ming’s, and Chuck seems at best the same height as most of them.
He is tough though, there’s no denying that. Even his face looks like a cutting board that has been used for a lifetime of carving roasts. In one scene Chuck uses a Kevlar boat that is able to stop bullets, even that makes it only the second toughest thing in the film. Chuck is tuff.
The Vietnam war is over. Chuck (his name is Braddock but he’s still Chuck to me OK) is now back in tha worl’, a worl’ he is not right for any longer. Chuck wiles away the days drinkin’ and reminiscin’. He knows that the US forces left men behind, but has almost moved on… that is until the entire concept of missing US soldiers is thoroughly debunked, this leads to an infuriated Chuck delivering the longest dialogue filled speech of his cinematic career:
“This is Braddock… I’ll go.”
Now in Vietnam, Chuck finds that he is little more than a patsy meant to deflect interest and stop any talk of a cover up. The Vietnamese (lead by James Hong in a “we need an Asian actor – any Asian actor” role) continue to debunk the “myth” and in turn accuse Chuck of perpetrating war crimes against their people.
Later that night Chuck takes a knife and a quick walk. At the conclusion of his night out he knows exactly where the POWs are being held and off he goes! First though he must convince the US representatives that he wont be heading off to do anything silly, in another example of the genius of Chuck he manages to fool them by cleverly saying:
“I’m not going to free them.”
But guess what? He must have had his fingers crossed because that is exactly what he then goes on to do. The brilliant mind behind the mullet.
So Chuck goes to Thailand where he looks like he permanently lives in his own cigarette commercial, he renews acquaintances with another ex-serviceman so he has someone to talk to – or at least grunt at periodically – and off they go.
Chuck proves he is the master of the last second turnaround, narrowly avoiding numerous punches and thrusts, he dons a headband for the finale to prove he is serious now and shoots a bunch of Vietnamese soldiers, who are patrolling constantly for some reason despite the fact that the war has apparently been over for 8 years.
Look I don’t know how well Missing in Action came across in the 80s when it was released, obviously well enough to justify at least two sequels I know of. As an action film it is OK, as a work of cinema it is pretty dodgy. In my eyes this is little more than a Van-Damme movie with Chuckles on the poster, it sets very low expectations and then meets them.
For that I will begrudgingly admit that the film somehow works.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. Seems clichéd now. But if you like Rambo you wont be too upset here by the Chuckster’s work.