CANNON MONTH: Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985)

Only with Cannon can you have the sequel be the prequel when it was supposed to be the first movie. The Joseph Zito-made Missing In Action was considered to be the better of the two movies, so this one was turned into the second movie, but everything worked out pretty OK.

This was directed by Lance Hool, who sold the script to Chuck Norris, who was looking for a movie to pay tribute to his brother Wieland, who had died in Vietnam. They took the script to Cannon, who had a Vietnam POW movie in development, so that’s how we got two movies so quickly. Also, I’m amazed that Vietnam movies were impossible to make in Hollywood before Stallone and Norris changed everything.

Years before he freed US POWs in the first film, Colonel James Braddock (Chuck Norris was tortured in a North Vietnamese POW by Colonel Yin (Soon-Teck Oh, who was also in Good Guys Wear Black). He and his fellow soldiers have been forced to grow opium and if they want to be released, Braddock has to confess to war crimes. I mean, it’s Chuck Norris. Do you think he’s going to do that?

Yet that’s exactly what Captain David Nester (Steven Williams, X from The X-Files) believes should happen and he’s joined the side of the enemy as they subject the Americans to torture like guns being shoved in their faces and fired with no bullets. Then, after a fight that Braddock beats Nestor in, he gets a live rat dropped in a bag covering his face while they tell him that his wife thinks he’s dead and has remarried.

That’s also not a fake rat.

Then, to add even more pain, Braddock exchanges an admission of guilt to Yin’s charges of war crimes in order to get medicine for Franklin, a soldier with malaria. Yin overdoses the soldier with opium and burns him in front of Braddock, who escapes from the camp and — as you can imagine — murders every single other soldier, which includes pro wrestler Professor Toru Tanaka.

This came out three months after the first movie but still made $11 million at the box office.

For more info on all three Missing In Action movies, get Austin Trunick’s The Cannon Film Guide Volume 1: 1980-1984.

You can listen to The Cannon Canon episode about Missing In Action 2: The Beginning here.

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