Missing in Action 2: The Beginning Reviews
This follows Braddock (Norris) as he's captured during a rescue mission in Vietnam in 1972, before moving quickly on 10 years later, it's now 1982 & Braddock & his men are still M.I.A.
The plot dips significantly in quality, the direction is sloppy and the performances are terrible. The highlight sadly is the cruelty Braddock & his men are put through.
The film features decent performances from Norris & Soon-Tech Oh, but the rest are just horrible. The film is enjoyable though & although its predecessor is the better film this is my favourite of the series.
"Missing in Action 2: The Beginning" (1985) was filmed back to back with "Missing in Action" (1984), and was supposed to be released first. However, when the producers realised the second film was the better of the two, they released it first and called it "Missing in Action 2: The Beginning" a prequel. This is of course a B-movie actioneer as the first one, but here we actually deal with the hardship of POW captives and the atrocities they suffer while in the camp during most of the running time, before Chuck falls into his classic action hero role and saves the day. Chuck is not as wooden as he normally is until he breaks out of the camp, which is a relief to see. This is an 80s no brainer action movie and you get exactly what you expect to get.
A hugely forgettable post Vietnam war prisoner action movie from Cannon that sits in the shadow of the much more effective Rambo: first blood 2. Overall there's very little to actually enjoy here as we've seen all this has to offer before only done much better, while Chuck isn't as totally badass as he usually is, and the writing is poor at best. It's not an awful watch, but hardly worth tracking down, or paying more than a few buttons for the privilege.
The thing that made Missing in Action good was the fact that it was a relentlessly patriotic action film which was very over the top in an attempt to capitalise on the success of Rambo: First Blood Part II, but Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is not of the same calibre. The film is about characters stuck in an illegal POW camp dealing with the drama of being forced to stay there. It's more of a prsion film than an action one, and nobody looks at a film like Missing in Action 2: The Beginning and says "I want to see the film for its dramatic virtues". Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is a film where viewers would want action, and the word action is even in the tit;le. But the quantity of it is just insufficient. Aside from about 10 seconds worth of gunshots at the start of the film, there are actually no real action sequences in the film until an hour into the running time, and by that point it is likely that viewers have decided that the film is a bad one. Missing in Action was bad in parts, but the action scenes and the fact that it was such a patriotic Chuck Norris film is the thing that made it entertaining enough. With Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, its doesn't even seem like the filmmakers were really trying. All they had to do was stage a lot of explosions and guns blazing, but instead they attempted to make Missing in Action 2: The Beginning a deep film. In case director Lance Hool didn't realise it, Missing in Action was a shallow action film which took ideas from Rambo: First Blood Part II and made itself all about the action. Maybe if Missing in Action 2: The Beginning was released before Missing in Action like originally intended it could have been better because then the film could have built its own legacy as a Chuck Norris drama. But since the expectation is a lot of action, viewers should set themselves up to be disappointed by Missing in Action 2: The Beginning. There is little action, and what there actually is proves to be awful. Aside from the fact that it has next to none of the iconic traits of action from a Chuck Norris film, it is just packed with lame stunts and a distinct lack of any fun. That is the real problem with Missing in Action 2: The Beginning. It has no fun whatsoever, and is just boring as hell because it attempts to be a drama which it never had a chance of succeeding as and because it all feels so artificial.
In one scene where a character gets shot through the side of the head in slow motion you can actually see how pathetically fake it all is, and in most of the physical confrontation scenes you can see lame movements poorly disguised as acts of violence with lacklustre editing and terrible acting. Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is an example of essentially nothing but wasted potential, with one example being the fact that the scenery is great. Everything in Missing in Action 2: The Beginning has the appropriate look to actually seem like a Vietnam war prison film, but it ends up being too focused on the cheaper elements which actually do nothing for the film whatsoever, and so the colour of the film ends up driving itself into being nothing but a dull visual experience.
And Chuck Norris actually receives way too little screen time for him to be credited as the lead in Missing in Action 2: The Beginning. I mean, the film shows so many characters in the POW without any of them being all that compelling. It is hard even to give a crap about Chuck Norris' character, and when that is a problem you know that a film is bad. In Missing in Action, you see Chuck Norris going guns blazing into the Vietnamese forests to rescue POW's in a perfectly hollow story of patriotism and "America being the heroes against the corrupt Charlies". In Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, you have to deal with nothing but him whining about being stuck in a camp for the entire film, and it is hard to feel any sympathy for him because caring about him is just not worth it at all. Chuck Norris does not put up much of a fight at all in Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, and when he does it rarely rises above being tedious at best. The entertainment value in Missing in Action 2: The Beginning was seriously lacking, below any kind of standard you may have expected. Chuck Norris fans are likely to be disappointed with Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, particularly after the low bar set up by Missing in Action which was still too high for director Lance Hool to reach. I do not actually understand how though because all he had to do was create some good action scenes and get on with his day, but he was too caught up attempting to make it a serious drama film that he forgot he was filming a Chuck Norris movie. Audiences didn't forget it, and they have to suffer through it for 100 minutes of wasted time.
So Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is a boring film which takes the name of Chuck Norris and completely fails to pay it back with enough action whatsoever or any that is of good quality, and it instead spends more time dominated by poor acting, weak plotting and generic melodrama instead of the fun action scenes which made its predecessor entertaining and therefore fails to live up to the name of a blatant rip-off of the second film in the Rambo series.
This film simply tales the tale of how 'Braddock' got captured and held captive in Nam before breaking out and getting to the point we see him in 'Missing In Action'. Its all very straight forward and like the other film, very by the numbers step by step action flick fluff.
Mind you this film is slightly more adult than the first film. Most of the plot takes part within the POW camp and shows us some mildly nasty stuff. The odd bit of torture, beatings, mock executions, real executions, torment, getting burned alive with flame throwers etc...it is a bit harrowing in a semi-harrowing kind of way. Nothing that will make you lose sleep, its not a dramatic epic true to life event flick, but its based on the reality of real Nam POW camps and does offer a touch of emotion.
The evil sadistic POW camp leader is nicely portrayed by Soon Tek-Oh. Much like Drago in 'Delta Force 2' this film is saved by his smooth villainous ways, his almost charming tone of speech, wry smile and merciless manner. His henchmen soldiers are all your standard Vietnam war types if I can say that, they just appear very stereotypical to look at I guess. Same can be said for Chuck's boys, militant and loud mouthed yanks with blonde hair, blue eyes and the token black guy (who dies). As for Norris...well its business as usual with the headband, Uzi and his lumberjack looks. He says little and acts badly while doing it, but we don't ask that of Norris do we, we just want him to grunt stare and kill bad guys tamely.
The film looks better than the first that's for sure but I'm starting to get bored of bamboo huts within green South East Asian jungles. Still we are given some more explosions, bigger ones this time and a more interesting array of deaths for various military personnel good and bad. Its still fun as we see Chuck wear down the evil Colonel and survive his torture tricks. It is more realistic than the previous film but overall it does also feel a bit of an excuse just to see Chuck take out an entire camp of bad guys...again.
Still its on par with the original film in my opinion, the more adult approach is welcome adding some tension, the corniness of the first film has been cut back. Its also funny and hackneyed that when this film was made it was common practice that the goodie black guys all get killed off whilst most of the blue eyed white guys survive to fight another day, old movie cliches huh.
(1985) Missing In Action 2: The Beginning
Second viewing and quite unbearable if it wasn't for the final fight and the reason is the acting by some of it's actors give cringing performances with plenty of ridiculous moments. Some Vietnamese who used to serve in the army even made claims that it's nothing more than a propoganda movie to showcase audiences that they are some of the worst torturers as opposed to the downside of the U.S. flat out denying their existence. Supposed to be a prequel of the first movie made in 1984 centering almost 90% of the movie on the torture tactics inflicted by the Vietamese army as a sadist. The only memorable action scene throughout is the final fight with the leader of the camp.
2 out of 4
also stars Soon-Teck Oh, Cosie Costa, Steven Williams, David Chung, Joe Michael Terry, John Wesley, Bennett Ohta and Professor Toru Tanaka.
directed by Lance Hool.