Missing in Action (film)

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Missing in Action
Missing in action (film poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Zito
Produced byMenahem Golan
Yoram Globus
Screenplay byJames Bruner
Story by
  • John Crowther
  • Lance Hool
Music byJay Chattaway
CinematographyJoão Fernandes
Edited byJoel Goodman
Daniel Loewenthal
Distributed byThe Cannon Group
Release date
  • November 16, 1984 (1984-11-16)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million[1]
Box office$22,812,411[2]

Missing in Action is a 1984 American action film directed by Joseph Zito and starring Chuck Norris. It is set in the context of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue. Colonel Braddock, who escaped a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp 10 years earlier, returns to Vietnam to find American soldiers listed as missing in action during the Vietnam War. The film was followed by a prequel, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985), and a sequel, Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988).

Despite the overwhelmingly negative reception from critics, the film was a commercial success and has become one of Chuck Norris's most popular films. It was also Chuck Norris's first film with The Cannon Group.


Colonel James Braddock is a US military officer who spent seven years in a North Vietnamese POW camp, which he escaped 10 years ago. After the war, Braddock accompanies a government investigation team that travels to Ho Chi Minh City to investigate reports of US soldiers still held prisoner. Braddock obtains the evidence then travels to Thailand, where he meets Tuck, an old Army friend turned black market kingpin. Together, they launch a mission deep into the jungle to free the US POW's from General Trau.




Missing in Action received overwhelmingly negative reviews.[3][4] Scott Weinberg of eFilmCritic.com gave the film 2 stars out of 5, writing that "Norris does Stallone... badly" in his review.[5] In a 2003 BBC article entitled "Rambo: Pretenders to the Throne", Almar Haflidason wrote "the runaway success of the Rambo trilogy inspired dozens of rip-offs", citing that the Missing in Action series was the most famous of the Rambo clones.[6]

Derek Adams of Time Out wrote that the film was "so bad that it defies belief. It's xenophobic, amateurish and extraordinarily dull". He also labeled it as "all-gooks-are-baddies propaganda".[7] On AMC's movie guide, Jeremy Beday of Rovi described the film as a "crass, dopey Rambo-esque film that ultimately fails to connect with anything interesting in the realm of fact or fiction" and that its "chop-socky, shoot-em-up, explosion-a-minute action quickly wears thin".[8] Steve Crum of Video-Reviewmaster.com wrote that MIA was "Chuck Norris' best film, and that isn't saying much".[5] The film currently holds a 21% "Rotten" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

Box office[edit]

The film was popular at the box office, one of the most successful ever made by Cannon. It earned over $10 million in rentals in the US[9] and resulted in a profit to Cannon of $6.5 million on the basis of its US release alone.[1]


The concept for the film originated from a story treatment, written by James Cameron in 1983, for the film Rambo: First Blood Part II that was floating around Hollywood at the time.[10][11] This explains the similar plotlines between Rambo and MIA. Representatives from Cannon Group claimed to have been "inspired" by Cameron's script and subsequently produced and released the first two Missing in Action films two months before the release of Rambo,[12][13] in order to avoid copyright violation lawsuits.

Missing in Action 2 was filmed back to back with Missing in Action, and was actually set to be released first before the producers changed their minds.[citation needed]

It is the first of a series of Rambo-inspired POW rescue fantasies themed around the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue that were produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and released under their Cannon Films banner, with whom he had a long relationship. Norris later dedicated these films to his younger brother Wieland. Wieland, a private in the 101st Airborne Division, had been killed in June 1970 in Vietnam while on patrol in the defense of Firebase Ripcord.[14] The film, however, was criticized heavily as being a preemptive cash-in on the Rambo film series.[15][16] The film however was a huge success and Norris became Cannon's most prominent star of the 1980s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p58
  2. ^ "Missing in Action, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1984-11-17). "Movie Review - Missing in Action - SCREEN: NORRIS IN 'MISSING IN ACTION' - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  4. ^ "Missing In Action : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. 2000-07-22. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  5. ^ a b c "Missing in Action Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  6. ^ "Rambo: Pretenders to the Throne". BBC. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  7. ^ "Missing in Action Movie Review". Time Out. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  8. ^ "Missing in Action on AMC Movie Guide". AMC. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  9. ^ Chuck Norris: The Public Has Made Him a Star: FILM VIEW "'Code of Silence' is a first-rate action picture about a two-fisted, two-footed Chicago cop caught in the middle of a gang war." (Vincent Canby) FILM VIEW Canby, Vincent. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 May 1985: H15.
  10. ^ "War Movie Mondays, Missing in Action Movie Review". The Flick Cast. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "Movie Review: Missing in Action Trilogy". WordPress. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  12. ^ "Box Office Information for Missing in Action 2". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  13. ^ "Box Office Information for Rambo: First Blood Part II". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  14. ^ "PFC Wieland Clyde Norris". The Virtual Wall.
  15. ^ "War Movie Mondays, Missing in Action Movie Review". The Flick Cast. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  16. ^ "Box Office Flashback, December 10, 1984". Pop Dose: Pop Culture News, Reviews and Discussion. Retrieved July 7, 2012.

External links[edit]