Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Braddock: Missing in Action III

I have seen this film exactly twice. Once was back on some random night when TBS aired it in the 10:35 PM slot as, if I recall correctly, the bouble half of a bill with the original Missing in Action. Considering the continuity issues, they do not complement one another. I decided it was an awful movie back then. Flash fordward about twenty years to early this afternoon for the second and final time I will sit through this film. It has not improved with time.

Right from the get go, there is trouble. The film opens during the fall of Saigon. Col. James Braddock, who is supposed to be in a POE camp, is trying to find his Vietnamese wife, who ought to be American and living back in the United States. He mistakenly believes her to be killed in a rocket attack, so he leaves Vietnam mourning her loss. Also unbeknownst to him, she is pregnant.

Fifteen years later, Braddock discovers through a stereotypically cold CIA dolt named Littlejohn his wife survived and he has a son. His kid suffers along with many other Amerasian kids left behind after the war, so Braddock not only his a personal mission to reunite with his family, but save those outcast kids, too. He has his work cut out for him. The villain of the film, Col. Kwoc, is the most cartoonish, mustache twirling villain I have seen in a while. This guy orders an orphanage full of Amerasian kids killed just to prove he is the villain. He also has some history with Braddock, which is odd considering Braddock has been established to have an ax to grind with two different Vietnamese colonels solely responsible for his torment as a POW. Of course, it does not appear he was ever a POW as far as this movie is concerned.

Getting back rto Kwoc..just how evil is he? Even enough to murder Braddock’s wife in front of him in painfully dramatic slow motion, then torture Braddock with the life of his son in the balance. The latter is the most memorable bit of the film, and probably helped establish the Chuck Norris Facts of his unbelievable prowess. Chained with his wrists over his head and the other end hooked to the trigger of a gun pointed at his son, Braddock can stand on his toiptoes forever. Even through electric shock torture, which causes him to merely grunt through gritted teeth. Tough guy, that braddock. If the rat bag over the head torture of Missing in Action II: The Beginning was so inconceivably brutal, one wonders from what depths of a depraved mind the screenwriter must have trolled, this torture seen rockets to the opposite direction, although you are still left wondering what the screenwriter was thinking.

After escaping his captors with his son, Braddock frees the children and heads for Vietnam’s non-existent border with Thailand and safety. Yes, this film cannot get geography right, either. Standard action movie fare ensues--gunfire, explosions, an the occasional high kick. The bad guys cannot hit the slow moving truck carrying all the kids, because they all have to reach the end of the film in one piece. Which is also why every last one of them survives a plane crash, too. Or maybe it is because Braddock was flying it. Say, where did he learn to fly a plane? Fret not. The action does not barrel along without heart. Braddock and his son finally bond over the question ‘Are you okay?” and mutual answers of “I’m fine.”

I am only reviewing Braddock: Missing in Action III for the sake of completion. It is an awful movie, and everyone knows it. Given the inconsistent back story compared with that presented in the first two films, I remain convinced this was supposed to be another movie altogether, but someone decided it was too terrible to stand on its own merit, so the names were changed to make it part of the franchise. Maybe they would be able to squeeze ot an extra dollar or two that way. I hope someone got something out of this mess.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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