Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985)
By: Devon B. on April 26, 2013 | Comments
MGM | Region Free | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 1.0 | 96 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Lance Hool
Starring: Chuck Norris, Soon-Teck Oh, Steven Williams, Professor Toru Tanaka
Screenplay: Arthur Silver, Larry Levinson, Steve Bing
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
As most will guess from the subtitle, Missing in Action 2 is a prequel to Missing in Action. It's not the same "The Beginning" that was shown via flashback in Missing in Action, but rather a different part of "The Beginning" than "The Beginning" that was shown at the beginning of Missing in Action. I'm also not sure where the part of "The Beginning" shown in Missing in Action occurs, because at the beginning of Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, Norris only has a moustache, but then when he's missing in action and doesn't have access to shaving equipment he sprouts his standard beard. However, in Missing in Action he has his beard during that "The Beginning", so that must've happened after the events of this movie. Or maybe his beard was annoying him so he shaved it, then grew it back after he became a POW, but I don't remember any characters asking him about his smooth new look, so I don't think that's the case. It's important questions like this one about facial hair that Missing in Action 2 never broaches, which is a shame.

The film starts with Norris and company on a helicopter. One of the guys mentions that he's expecting a child soon, but he strangely doesn't get shot seconds later, but the helicopter does end up going down and the group get captured. There's a bit of laboured set up and explanation of their situation, and then most of the movie is a POW drama as the men try to survive in the camp. One of the Americans, played by the bounty hunter guy from Jason Goes to Hell, betrays the others which makes things very tense. So tense that people have to discuss the situation ad nauseam. This talky section is a ploy to lull the viewers, because Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is just saving all the excitement for its action heavy final third.

Because so much of the movie is poorly done wartime drama, this film will be a challenge for action fans. Bad movie fans will enjoy the first hour for its unintentional hilarity, but the overall quality of the film vastly improves for the last half hour, so they may get bored at that point. Really, to get the most out of this one the viewer will need to be a well-rounded connoisseur, one that takes pleasure in both the so-bad-it's-good and blow-stuff-up-good genres.

This movie is even more overblown and jingoistic than its predecessor, which is quite an achievement even if it isn't a noble one. Adding to the pro-American feel is new cover art with the American flag in the background, but I don't like this art because I still fondly remember the awesome original poster so whoever put together this lame patchwork image deserves to be fired. Any movie that has a reverential clip of Ronald Reagan explaining policy is going to be right-wing, and Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is really goddamn right-wing. This just leads to more unintentional comedy, like when the boo-hiss bad guy says America is reviled worldwide and the American audience is clearly meant to think that's a lie, but in a lot of ways it isn't far from the truth.

Norris is as subtle as ever, giving a performance so wooden it seems he took acting lessons from Bruce Lee's nunchaku. Like the first film, Norris doesn't get a lot of opportunity to showcase his martial arts prowess, but at least this movie ends with a hoo-ha showdown so people who want to see Norris literally kick ass have that to look forward to.

Professor Toru Tanaka, who actually made his film debut in Norris' An Eye for an Eye, has a bit part as one of the guards. I like the Professor, but I think it's cool that he kept turning up in things connected to James Hong. He doesn't actually co-star with Hong this time around, but Hong was one of the baddies in the predecessor, so there's a connection. It's a shame the Professor's dead because Hong probably could've got him a part in Kung Fu Panda 3: Rise of the Machines.

Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is not exciting from frame one, but eventually the action kicks in and when it does it's in a cavalcade. I would've preferred more hand to hand combat, but I like seeing stuff explode too, so I was happy with the movie all things considered.

MGM haven't yet released Braddock: Missing in Action III, but those that can't wait can import it from Germany. It's been released there by Ascot Elite Home Entertainment, the folk what brought us the Ninja trilogy on Blu-ray.
The Disc
There's a bit of edge enhancement, grain can occasionally be heavy and there are a few spots, but this is mostly a clean and clear transfer. Detail is good and the film even pops sometimes. There's a little crush in the darker scenes and the colours waivered as few times, but this is another solid transfer of a Norris film from MGM.

The audio is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix, and like other films in this Norris line this is a good, clear presentation of the film's original audio. It's not Earth shattering by any means, but I prefer the original audio to tacky or pointless 5.1 remixes, so I've been really enjoying these MGM releases. The sound does bam things up during the last third, and I did like the massive crackle created by the flamethrower. There's also a lossy French dub, and the fact that there isn't a lossless French track may be why this is the one Blu-ray of the five MGM Norris titles that wasn't picked up for distribution in France.

Extras? The trailer!
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
It's less action movie than a POW drama, but as an unintentional comedy Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is more entertaining than its predecessor, and as an action movie more stuff gets blown up than last time. These no-frills Norris Blus may not top a lot of Year's Best Releases lists, but I've been really pleased with them.á

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