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Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988)

| January 22, 1988

It doesn’t take a film scholar to deduce that the title Braddock: Missing in Action III was inspired by Rambo: First Blood Part II.  I first saw this title pop up on a television commercial the other morning while I was getting dressed and I snorted an unexpected bit of laughter that escaped my nose and mouth before my brain could register what had happened.

Watching the movie, I had the same sort of amusement, but I haven’t been as intrigued by this series as I was by Stallone’s lone-wolf series.  Chuck Norris is a good actor, way better than the movies that he is given, although at his best moments, he has a genuine charm and a tough-steel resolve.  As an action tough guy, I’ll give him credit, he has a little more gravity in terms of intimidation.  I’d want him at my back if I were in a pinch. 

Braddock, however, is not one of his great movie tough guys.  Both he and John Rambo are battle-scarred veterans of Vietnam, but Braddock seems more angry about the situation while Rambo seems more deeply wounded.  The Missing in Action movies are not as strong or as full-blooded as the Rambo pictures.  The first movie had Braddock going into the jungles of Vietnam to bring back MIAs still held hostage there (Rambo did that better).  The prequel, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, was a disgusting fable that dealt with Braddock’s time in a prison camp – that movie traded on blood and racism for effect.  This third movie adds the element that Braddock wife and son are still back in Bangkok, being held in a prison camp.

What happens next is not a surprise to anyone who has seen Rambo: First Blood Part II, only it is not directed as well and the comic violence it more unpleasant than thrilling.  What troubles me are the nature of films like this.  What is the point?  With films like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket and the extraordinary documentary Dear America bringing a sober reality to a war that America has been at odds with, why do we need action films like this?  What cause are they pulling for?  Perhaps trying to rewrite history so that the American are victorious?  I don’t know.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1988) View IMDB Filed in: Action