From the decade of action films – that is, The '80s – the Missing in Action series is a trilogy of action films (one a prequel and the other a sequel of sorts), each starring Chuck Norris in the role of Colonel James Braddock, a Vietnam veteran.
Not to be confused with Never Found the Body, the actual missing-in-action trope.
Films in the series:
- Missing in Action (1984)
- Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985)
- Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988)
These films provide examples of:
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- Artistic License – History: The series, along with Rambo: First Blood Part II, popularized the myth that American prisoners of war were deliberately left behind in Vietnam , but covered up by both the American and Vietnamese government.
- Beard of Evil: General Trau's aide, the NVA officer who tortures Braddock in MIA 1 and General Quoc in MIA 3.
- Big Bad: General Trau in MIA 1, Colonel Yin in MIA 2, and General Quoc in MIA 3.
- Colonel Badass: Braddock holds this rank, and is indeed a certifiable badass.
- Dirty Communists: The Vietnamese.
- Dynamic Entry: Braddock does a magnificent case in one of the films, as he flies down from a tree.
- Every Helicopter Is a Huey: So much that even the PAVN and French drug dealers use them. Averted in the third film.
- More Dakka: Especially in the first film, courtesy of Braddock's M60
- Rated M for Manly: As any movie with Chuck Norris in it.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: Rambo: First Blood Part II WITH CHUCK NORRIS!
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Braddock.
- Title Drop: Several times in MIA 1 and 2.
Missing in Action
- Action Prologue: The film begins with a Dream Sequence where Braddock relives his experiences in Vietnam.
- Affably Evil: Trau is spiteful towards Braddock and is intentionally covering up the existence of America POWs, but he is unfailingly courteous to the other diplomats that come with Braddock to Vietnam.
- Blatant Lies: General Trau declaring there were no American POWs left in Vietnam. If he were telling the truth, there would be no film.
- Disc-One Final Boss: General Trau was killed 35 minutes into the film. From then on he is replaced by an unnamed general.
- Fanservice with a Smile: Braddock hooks up with an old army buddy in Thailand, leading to plenty of gratuituous fanservice involving totally naked bar girls. One notable scene has Braddock talking to a bartender; as he walks offscreen a beautiful naked Thai girl is placed on the bar for no apparent reason (security for a bar tab?).
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: "The answer you give me will decide whether you live... or die".
- Jumping on a Grenade: Braddock is so badass he jumps holding a couple of grenades, surviving the subsequent explosion without loss of limbs.
- Note: It was just a nightmare Braddock had, not an actual event.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The premise of the film, as with the film it ripped off (Rambo: First Blood Part II), was inspired by a conspiracy theory - widely believed in the 1980s - that there were many American soldiers from the Vietnam War who were still being kept prisoner and tortured by the Vietnamese. After several Congressional investigations into the matter in the decades since, it's now generally believed to be a myth.
- Never Found the Body: The POWs who were declared MIA.
- Non-Action Big Bad: General Trau is the only villain in the series who doesn't fight Braddock.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Gen. Trau dies when Braddock lands his knife into his stomach.
- You Shall Not Pass!: Tuck takes over the gunboat when its previous owner was killed by a patrol boat. The outcome is exactly as one might expect.
Missing in Action 2: The Beginning
- And This Is for...: Happens at the end in which Braddock puts the beatdown on Colonel Yin for killing Nester (with a slight neck snap) and Franklin (belly punch and grabbing his stomach). And finally finishes him off by detonating a bomb in the cabin, blowing him up. "And this is for me."
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: Colonel Yin.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: An Australian spy sent to take photographic proof of the presence of POWs in Vietnam bluffs about being a pointman of a major rescue operation. Subverted, as it ultimately fails.
- Black Dude Dies First: Of Braddock's squad, only Franklin and Nester die. Both are black.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Happens to Francois in MIA 2. He is killed by Yin so the latter could take over the former's cartel.Yin: They needed a new leader after they heard that you had died.
- The Dragon: Dou Chou, the skinny moustache wearing guard.
- Faux Affably Evil: Col. Yin always refers to Braddock by his rank and speaks to him in a courteous manner, but it's clear he enjoys tormenting Braddock and his fellow POWs.
- French Jerk: François.
- Giant Mook: One of the guards is played by Prof. Toru Tanaka, so obviously he's huge.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Dou Chou meets his end when Mazilli sticks a makeshift bamboo spear through his guts.
- Kick the Dog: Col. Yin and his men spend the whole movie doing this, until The Dog Bites Back hard at the end.
- Loophole Abuse: Braddock's first lines of dialogue to Yin is telling him the Geneva Convention forbids having POWs after a war has ended. Yin's response? They're not POWs, but war criminals. He spends a good portion of the movie trying to coerce Braddock to sign a false confession in order to give his abuses a veneer of legality.
- No One Could Survive That!: Said almost verbatim by one of Braddock's men after Yin's cabin is decimated by a pair of grenades. Soon after they leave, Yin emerges unscathed from a trapdoor in the floor. Subverted however, both because they see a body part they believe to be Yin's... and because Braddock stays behind to make sure he's dead.
- Prequel: This film is about Braddock's time as a POW before the events of the first Missing In Action movie.
- The Quisling: Nester. He pulls a Heel–Face Turn at the end.
- Redemption Equals Death: When Mazilli is recaptured, Nester, who had been kissing Col. Yin's butt the whole movie, looks like he's about to execute him. He instead shoots the guards holding Mazilli, and gets killed in response.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Despite working together, it's clear that both Colonel Yin and François doesn't get along well. This ultimately ends with the latter getting killed by the former.
- You No Take Candle: Dou Chou.
Braddock: Missing in Action III
- Artifact Title: Despite this film being called Missing In Action, there are no POWs. In fact, this film pretty much seems to ignore the previous two MIA films, since Braddock couldn't possibly have witnessed the Fall of Saigon if he was being held prisoner by the NVA.
- Attempted Rape: A Viet Cong soldier tries to rape one of the orphan girls held hostage. Since Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil, Braddock dispatches him in the most awesome way possible.
- Badass Boast:Braddock: I don't step on toes, Littlejohn. I step on necks.
- BFG: When assaulting the base where the orphaned children (and his son) are being held hostage, Braddock carries with him a H&K G3A4 assault rifle with a rotary six-shot underslung grenade launcher. It even has a retractable bayonet!
- Big "NO!": Braddock and Van when General Quoc guns down Lin and during their Cold-Blooded Torture.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Gen. Quoc inflicts this on Braddock and his son.
- Crapsack World: As seen in the film's prologue, Saigon during the Fall wasn't the happiest of places.
- Damsel in Distress: Braddock's wife, Lin.
- Disappeared Dad: Braddock was this to his son until his return to Vietnam.
- Establishing Character Moment: When General Quoc first appears, he guns down Lin in cold blood and later tortures Braddock and his son. He gets worse from there.
- Evil Laugh: General Quoc, during his Cold-Blooded Torture of Braddock and his son.
- General Ripper: General Quoc.
- Hellish Copter: You know Gen. Quoc is doomed when he decides to give Braddock and the orphans chase in an attack chopper.
- Kick the Dog: General Quoc, again. He takes Reverend Polaski's mission hostage in an attempt to trap Braddock.
- Just Plane Wrong: The Hind gunship used by Quoc is actually a Sikorsky S-62 that was never used by the PAVN. The American gunship in the movie is also a Sikorsky S-76A instead of an Apache or a Cobra.
- The Lost Lenore: Zig Zagged. Braddock had a wife in Vietnam, whom he thought died during the Fall. She turns out to be alive, prompting Braddock to return to Vietnam to see her again. Then Gen. Quoc murders her in cold blood, fulfilling this trope.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Littlejohn, who tried to persuade Braddock from travelling to Vietnam, leading to the Badass Boast above.
- Recycled Soundtrack: While Jay Chattaway did write an original score for this one, the movie also reused music composed for previous Cannon productionsnote (including Chattaway's scores for the first movie and Invasion U.S.A. (1985)).
- Series Continuity Error: Braddock managed to witness the fall of Saigon while being imprisoned.
- Also, he has a Vietnamese wife he thought dead during the Fall. In MIA 2, it's mentioned Braddock has a wife, but she's not only NOT presumed dead, it's implied she lives in America and Colonel Yin, in one of his numerous Kick the Dog moments, told Braddock she was about to remarry.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Averted. Ron Bloom's song, "Freedom Again," is used appropriately.