Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Missing in Action


   I seriously tried to watch Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines. I tried to watch it for a whole week. It just wasn't engaging on any level. I watched some other movies during the tail end of last month, but couldn't bring myself to review any of them because... well... Fallout 4 happened to me. Anyways, I decided to treat myself to a documentary today about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the two 'shlockmeisters' behind Cannon films. One of my favorite names in 80's movies. The whole thing was a weird nostalgia trip for me and now I couldn't help but dive into their 'canon' of movies I've never seen before. It was a no-brainer to start with a Norris flick- and it was almost going to be Invasion U.S.A. but the VHS copy I had bought of it last year (a hobby of mine) was completely destroyed. So Missing in Action was the obvious next choice.

   I grew up on Rambo flicks to be honest, and out of the corner of my eye, these movies always just looked like ripoffs. Why would I watch these when I could just rewatch Rambo: First Blood Pt.II for the umpteenth time? Well, the Cannon brand is so popular with me personally that I eventually felt I was going to have to watch em sooner or later. The Delta Force was awesome, and is to date the only other Chuck Norris movie I've ever seen- so I really had no excuse to hold a bias against the Missing in Action movies at this point. Not to mention that documentary, Electric Boogaloo, made them seem real fun. Well, not five minutes into this one and it was already a blast- albeit a really dark one. 

  No matter how cheesy or ridiculous your movie is, seeing American soldiers die is never anything short of unnerving. This movie wastes no time killing off Chuck's comrades, a shorthand route straight to something resembling an emotional core. This movie is really no different than Rambo: First Blood Pt.II- except it has to it than just rooting around in the jungle. There's a decent section of the flick devoted to Chuck's character, Col.Braddock, looking for help and procuring the right gear- preparing for a heroic rescue mission. There's some smokey locales, lots of nudity, and some action packed hijinks along the way. No matter how heavy the topic is in this movie, it inevitably boils down to explosions, slow motion, and steely stares. 

  Not that I have any problem with that sort of thing. If I did, I wouldn't be watching this. It's exactly what I expected, and then some. The explosions are massive, the shootouts are aplenty and there's also some great standout crazy/badass moments. You can't really gauge the quality of a movie like this based on things like acting and script- so long as it's serviceable enough to take moderately serious, and you can follow the plot from scene to scene, there's no reason to hold it to any sort of higher standard because you never come to a Cannon film for those things. It's all about the action. Missing in Action doesn't disappoint on that front. There's a copious amount of martial arts, and lots of shootouts as well. 

  I won't lie, I laughed when M. Emmett Walsh showed up as Braddock's old war buddy. He seems to always show up in movies like this to tag along with the big bad hero and complain about shit along the way. "I'm not doing ______!" and of course, ten minutes later he's gosh-darning it, and doing _______ anyways. This happens several times, so there's no need to be specific. It's fun though in a nostalgic way- Red Scorpion with Dolph Lundgren instantly came to mind as well. Anyway, while watching Electric Boogaloo, I found out that this movie was actually made as a sequel to Missing in Action, but the powers that be felt this was a much better movie than the first one, so rather than release a sub par movie first- and dash their chances of people wanting to see more, they released the stronger of the two first- and let the sequel cash in on it's success. 

  I gotta say, I'm glad they did it that way. I've no desire to sit through a crappy movie all the while people are telling me the second one is better. I'm also too damn linear to skip a movie in a franchise. Which is exactly why I couldn't watch Death Wish 3 (which I had owned) without watching Death Wish 2 first (which I couldn't find for the life of me) so I'm pretty happy that the stronger flick was released first. Though, having sat through plenty of other crappy Cannon movies and still had a blast (see: Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. Or... don't see it. You'll be better off.) I'll probably see Missing in Action II: The Beginning sooner or later. I've become quite the sucker for namsploitation flicks. 

  Most of these are just patriotic wish fulfillment. As Rambo himself asked at one point, "Do we get to win this time?" That's all these movies are. The 'happy' ending we never got in real life. The wars we win get to be reflected on dispassionately, but 90% of Vietnam war movies are just wish fulfillment- and that's the war we lost. That says something about our mentality as a nation back then in the 80's. It's no wonder that Rambo became an action figure, and most silver screen action heroes had to 'win' this war at one point or another in their career. There's not much to dislike about these flicks if they are in fact what you are looking to see. Brash, loud, violent wish fulfillment. Good guys rescuing imprisoned friends, and fighting cartoonishly evil villains. Pass the popcorn, please.

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