Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Missing In Action 2: The Beginning Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
During a rescue mission in Vietnam, Colonel Braddock (Chuck Norris) and five of his men are captured and placed in a torturous work camp ruled by a ruthless, maniacal warden. But like a cunning tiger waiting for the right time to pounce on his prey, Braddock seizes an opportunity to spring into action... and becomes a one-man fighting machine deadset on freeing his men at any cost. The movie stars: Chuck Norris, Soon-Tek Oh, Steven Williams, Bennett Ohta, Cosie Costa, and Joe Michael Terry.

Chuck Norris Fact: Chuck Norris doesn't play "hide-and-seek." He plays "hide-and-pray-I-don't-find-you."

Film (3 out of 5 stars)

The first two Missing in Action films were originally filmed back to back but they released the second movie first because Cannon Films was worried that because they basically stole the plot from Rambo: First Blood Part II that they would be sued if they didn't release it before that movie came out.  So even though this is technically a sequel it actually tells us what happened before the events of the first movie.  During this film we see how Colonel James Braddock (Chuck Norris) was captured by the North Vietnamese and put into a the prisoner of war  camp that he escaped from in the first film.

The movie starts with Braddock's helicopter going down which ends up getting him and the rest of his men captured.  They are taken to a prison camp run by the sadistic Colonel Yin (Soon-Teck Oh) who takes much delight in having them tortured in every way possible.  Colonel Yin is determined to have each of the men sign a a confession admitting to war crimes against the North Vietnamese but Braddock steadfastedly refuses and serves as an example to the rest of his men.  Not everyone is as strong however, as one of his men Nestor (Steven Williams) decides to collaborate with Yin in exchange for better treatment for himself.  

Yin's brutal methods include letting one of the Americans die painfully from malaria by giving him an overdose of opium instead of the antibiotics like said he was going to offer.  Braddock is tied up and a bag with a ravenous rat tied to his head.  Yin also uses the men's personal lives against them as he tells Braddock that his wife has divorced him and remarried while Mazilli (Cosie Costa) is left depressed since he's never seen his child.  Yin even has one of the men's pet chicken get killed just to make a point that they aren't in control and that he can kill anyone or anything on a whim.

Of course, Braddock is only going to take so much of this kind of treatment and he manages a daring escape and starts killing the guards one by one through guerrilla warfare.  That change of fortune unhinges Yin even more than usual and he takes it out on the remaining prisoners and even on his ally Francois (Pierre Issot) who is his partner in their opium empire.  Of course, it will all come down to a fight between Braddock and Yin in a one on one fight to the death.

I liked this movie a lot more than Missing in Action as it had a better plot, it was more interesting, had a good villain, and there was more acting involved in it.  Even Chuck Norris put in some effort on this one which is a rare departure from his usual trademarks of a scowl and his fist.  Soon-Teck Oh is everything that a good villain should be - he sneers, he's abusive, he raises the stakes, and he's slightly unhinged.  The final fight between him and Norris is better than the entirety of the first movie and it was good to see Norris get back to using martial arts instead of a gun which was one of my biggest complaints from the first movie.  This movie was a lot more dramatic than the first one and I would recommend it over the first one with no hesitation.

Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Missing In Action II: The Beginning looks pretty good on Blu-ray as this 1080p (1.85:1) transfer offers some nice detail and some realistic colors.  Close ups offer a pretty sharp picture but the transfer does have some dirty looking scenes and there's also some moderate grain present.  It's not enough to be distracting but   it is noticeable and it's obvious that there is no sign of any heavy-handed noise reduction here.  All in all, this is a decent transfer for a catalog title.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

For a DTS-HD Mono track this one sounds better than I expected it would.  The dialogue is clean sounding and understandable with no audio defects like hiss, distortion, and the like.  The sound effects sound good and have a little power behind them too.  The score is mixed well with the dialogue and the various sound effects and this mix while not one for the record books, does the job well enough for an older movie.

Extras (1 out of 5 stars)

The only extra on here is the theatrical trailer which will bring down the overall score.

Summary (3 out of 5 stars)

This is no Best Picture contender and I'm sure that there's many people unhappy with the characterizations in this movie, but it is better than the first movie and it actually has a story.  Norris seems more invested in this movie and the action is pretty good after forcing the audiences to witness a lot of torture and raising their desire to see some revenge enacted on the North Vietnamese.  This Blu-ray offers some pretty good picture and sound quality but it is lacking extras which is a shame.  If you are a fan of Chuck Norris then you should pick this movie up at this price!

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