VHS Vault: The Truth About ‘Missing in Action 2’

Chuck Norris. That should be enough to make any action hound jump up in joy. It’s a sequel that’s a prequel so we should be in for a wild ride here. We don’t learn much about Chuck other than he is bad ass (which we already knew) but we learn a little more about his surroundings and the reason he is a bad ass in part one. Okay, you want more plot information, well here you go. Chuck plays Colonel James Braddock, a mostly quiet, reserved guy keeping an eye on his troops. You see, it’s just after the Vietnam War and these poor soldiers have been held captive by the evil Colonel Yin for 10 years.

This is all because Yin wants to break Braddock. It’s not going to happen as Braddock is rock hard (come on, he is played by Chuck Norris, what do you expect?). Braddock has and can take anything he throws at him. And that’s pretty much it plot wise, which is enough for me.

The UK VHS cover is absolutely stunning. Just look at it and admire it for a second. You would be proud to have this framed on your wall (Well… I would). Look closer though. Does it remind you of another piece of art? Go pop Airplane into your DVD player and skip to the scene where Ted Striker is painting in the hospital. This picture looks almost identical to the cover of Missing in Action 2, minus the baby and the leg around the head.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough, right?

I like the fact that the font used on the VHS sleeve is the same font used in the starting credits of the movie, a nice touch. Good font too, has a sense of grittiness and macho posturing which works ideally for this movie. Moving on to Colonel Braddock now, he looks intense. I mean, if this guy was running towards you there would be a serious accident in the trouser department. He looks a bit rough compared to films like Invasion USA when he is a clean mean fighting machine. The green head band is only worn once as far as I know but it’s a good look for Chuck and it’s different from the standard red head band that Rambo copy cats always wear.

The problem I have with Braddock here is he actually looks a little too clean. Now this may sound weird, but bear with me on this. In the movie he gets put through the ringer. He is stuck in a dirty pit, kicked to the ground, spat on and punched about all for giggles. He gets dirty pretty darn quickly. Now I don’t want to seem too pedantic but this uniform looks like it’s an advertisement for the best washed uniform. The cleanness of it is blinding. This seems stupid, but for me it gave me a different impression of the movie. I thought it was going to be more like your standard action flick, all gung ho and ass whopping, which is what the cover suggests. But it is actually quite dark in places and messed up to watch.

There are some nasty bits in this picture too. People burnt alive, people shot in the head close range in full close up, and the prisoners threatened with death until they break down and cry and then are left alone, are just a few of the scenes on show. I know it’s a Vietnam flick but most of the time these kind of action movies are slightly more light-hearted, even cartoon-like in their violence. These brutal scenes surprised me. The best scene in the film has to be when Braddock is hung upside down, and a bag with a hungry rat put over his head. The bag starts seeping blood. Colonel Yin is well chuffed [Ed. Note – this apparently means very pleased] with himself for causing Braddock some pain, and removes the bag only to find the dead rat in Braddock’s teeth! These nasty scenes do help make the payoff later on work better when the good guys get free.

The explosion in the background is pretty accurate. The film loves its explosions. The VHS cover slightly lies to you however, as the impression is given that there is some kind of night time escape with the tormentors blown to kingdom come and the guys escaping. It does not exactly play out that way. Most of the guys do escape but it’s mainly done one at a time until the attack at the end and then Braddock insists he goes it alone. There are no explosions at night at all. In fact the night time covers some of the more sensitive moments where the soldiers reflect on what is happening to them and if they will survive. The big whopper of a lie in this is Braddock running away from an explosion. Chuck Norris characters never run from explosions. In fact, when the explosion goes off that destroys the base, Braddock stays entirely still and does a macho action pose while the place lights up behind him. It’s no problem really, as there are loads of awesome pyrotechnics. The booby traps in the forest are my favorite, and man, does it look great to see those bad soldiers fly up into the air!

To the left we have Mazilli (played by Cosie Costa) who is in the movie quite a bit and has a pet chicken. He gets put through the wringer too with his chicken being slaughtered in front of him. He has a much cleaner cut of facial hair on the film cover though and again he suffers from clean shirt disorder. In the film he sports an amazing grizzly bear style beard. To the right of Braddock is Opelka (played by Joe Michael Terry). Wel,l I think it is him, as on the VHS sleeve he has the honor of having the massive 2 from the title of the movie slapped all over his noggin. He is not as prominent in the film and as such is pretty dull as he seems to just mope around a lot. There are a few people that have been left out however, and it would have been the icing on the cake for me if they had popped up somewhere on the cover. The big guy called Lao is played by Professor Tour Tanaka. He does not do much in this movie other than smack around a few people, but you will recognize him from his better starring role as Sub Zero in The Running Man. Steven Williams pops up as Captain David Nester, who essentially has to suck up to Colonel Yin 24/7. He is good in this but he is much better in the role most fanboys and girls would recognize him from, the informant for Mulder on The X-Files.

The next is the main villain Colonel Yin played with relish by Soon Tek Oh. This guy knows that the script requires him to be absolutely shite and he does it with style. He has such an emotionless face until he causes some severe pain. You would almost think he gets off on it, but not in a pantomime way; his performance is a nice mix of low key acting and just plain scumbag-ery. This guy is so evil he kills his business partner because he wanted his playthings (the American troops) killed. He is also selling drugs just to make him that much more of an arse. One of his favorite pastimes is burning people alive. He sets one dying man alight at the start and is responsible for lighting another with a flame thrower. As a villain he is amazing and makes the perfect foil for Braddock. I hate to say it but even though this is a Chuck film I think Yin steals the show, so it’s a shame he only gets a little fight near the end to really show you what he is made of. Also he appears no where on this cover, shocking.

The cover for the foreign release is amazing. Just look at it below. Yeah, this guy kind of does look like Chuck Norris, but its not quite there is it? It keeps freaking me out whenever I look at it; I think it may be his small sad eyes. Also, Braddock does use all this weaponry, but not all at once! He has to break them out separately. I don’t know how this guy is walking with all this armament on him. He is even carrying extra weapons in case all this is not enough. I can’t remember Braddock using a knife in the movie, but with all the explosions going on I’m sure I just missed it. I know for a fact he never stands in front of an exploding chopper though. The whole film is about him trying to get to a chopper to try and escape. Not quite sure why he thought it was a good plan to trash it! As I stated earlier nothing explodes at night but it does on these covers. Maybe its in Chuck’s contract to have a certain amount of night covers for his films. Looking at this cover more, though, I actually think I may have this one framed in my house instead!

For more from the VHS Vault click here!

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