Missing In Action is a pure action thriller of its era that heavily relies on Chuck Norris’ star power. Produced in 1984 by Golan-Globus Productions, its story resembles a lost entry to the Rambo franchise.

Colonel James Braddock (Chuck Norris) is a former American POW that ended up being held for seven years after the Vietnam War ended. Haunted by his experience once he escapes to America, Braddock decides to go back to Vietnam and wage a one-man war to rescue the friend he left behind in the Vietnamese prison camp.

This is not a great movie by any stretch, but worth a viewing. The plot never builds a convincing sense of danger to the hero but the action is realistic. Chuck Norris plays Braddock as an unstoppable force of nature with one purpose, to exact revenge on the people responsible for the prison camp and put a stop to it.

Braddock is a man of few words and the script is threadbare outside of setting up the villains. Action fans will welcome the variety of locales, as much of the lead-up takes place in the urban areas of Saigon. That sets up Chuck Norris for some interesting stealth action. Only the last act includes the familiar marsh fields of Vietnam, seen in so many other movies.

The conclusion is rarely in doubt, but the compelling action scenes have their own charisma that rates this ahead of lesser B-movies. This is competent entertainment, particularly for genre fans that don’t mind the tamer standards of pyrotechnics and warfare on film from the eighties. Fans of Chuck Norris should definitely check it out, while others might want to be more cautious.

Movie ★★★☆☆

Missing In Action is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen ratio on a BD-50. The AVC video encodes averages an extremely high 35 Mbps that produces no compression errors. Unfortunately that figure does not obscure the rough film elements used to produce the transfer. It definitely delivers a cinematic experience with little added processing, but the low-budget production becomes incredibly grainy and murky in night and interior scenes.

While it’s nice no digital noise reduction or edge enhancement was applied to the transfer, there are moments when the clarity is little better than a DVD. Budgetary limitations in the original cinematography negatively affect the picture quality, particularly as Chuck Norris sneaks throughout the night in his best imitation of  a ninja.

The scenes set in the jungle look the best with better contrast and detail. The color palette is fairly neutral but looks dull compared to a transfer made from a camera negative. It’s obvious the film print used for the transfer was given no special treatment.

The image has no depth or dimensionality to it and visibly worsens in darker shots. Resolution varies wildly over the course of the movie from mediocre to average. Some viewers will be unhappy with the coarse grain that permeates much of the film. A few scenes in the beginning have very poor black levels due to shoddy cinematography.

Video ★★☆☆☆

The main audio option is a DTS-HD MA 1.0 soundtrack. The mono audio struggles to keep up with new movies in terms of punch or fidelity, but does the basics well. This is not the disc one is going to use to demo your surround setup. Dialogue is understandable and mixed appropriately with the effects and score.

The score sounds dated and the mono track does not help in that regard. Music comes off as strident and somewhat unpleasant to hear at high volumes, particularly the Pop songs heard in the background. The frequent hail of bullets and explosions sound better and more typical for an action movie of the era.

Audio ★☆☆☆☆

The sole extra feature provided is the movie’s theatrical trailer. It looks in much worse shape than the main feature itself.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆

12 thoughts on "Missing In Action Review"

  1. Matt Stevens says:

    Your review is, frankly, a bit absurd. This film looks exactly like the 35mm prints it was released on. I actually have a 35mm trailer for this film and put it onto the slide scanner, I see it and the BluRay are very similar. This release deserves praise for having it done right,. NO NOISE REDUCTION which would have removed the grain AND the detail.. 

    1. gamereviewgod says:

      A trailer will be many generations from the actual source. That’s not a positive comparison to make. Just because there’s no noise reduction doesn’t warrant a positive score either. Low resolution scans (which is certainly what it looks like to me; I was the one taking the screens) don’t benefit anyone either. I’ll let Christopher take it from here though since I’m not the one who watched it.

    2. Christopher Zabel says:

       I’m not exactly sure what you consider absurd in the review. I agree the transfer has little additional processing beyond the scan of the master itself, as I noted. It’s unlikely any DNR was used, but that alone doesn’t guarantee a high score for the video portion of the review. If I had to guess, MGM used whatever available film print they could find for this disc. The lack of overall detail to the image indicates the use of secondary film elements for this transfer, or a movie that simply was shot very poorly to begin with.

      The two stars for the video review portion is taking into account other movies of similar vintage on the format and how they look. I believe M.I.A. could look better on BD if more care and attention had gone to securing a higher quality source for the transfer.

    3. Marty McDee says:

      Keep your bullshit to AVS, Stevens.

  2. Christopher Zabel says:

    Here is the full BDInfo report on the Blu-ray, with exact specifications:


  3. Robin Løvli says:

    Looking at this comparison: http://www.caps-a-holic.com/hd_vergleiche/comparison.php?art=full&cap1=11863&cap2=11858&cID=1131&lossless=1&image=0#auswahl

    I think the BD looks much better than the DVD. Even if it wasn’t newly restored, it can’t be that bad?

    1. gamereviewgod says:

      DVDs shouldn’t be much of a comparison, especially with the obviously altered color timing and ridiculous early MPEG-2 artifacting in those caps. “It looks better than the DVD!” should never be taken into consideration simply because Blu-ray as a format can host such a dramatic increase in quality.

    2. Christopher Zabel says:

      Those screenshot comparisons from caps-a-holic cherry-pick the better looking shots from the film. As I said in the review, whatever film elements MGM used for the transfer don’t look in great shape. Yes, the Blu-ray retains grain better than the DVD and has more actual resolution, but there were simply too many problems with the film’s cinematography to ever present the movie in great video quality.

      My critique of the picture quality was aimed as much at the original production as it was at this particular Blu-ray edition. The movie looks lower budget than all the other Chuck Norris’ movies of its era.

  4. Robin Løvli says:

    Ok, all i know is, that i would rather watch this BD than the lousy DVD. I think i will be happy with the BD when i watch it later.Perhaps i don’t expect as much as you do to these low-budget action films from the 80’s.

    1. Christopher Zabel says:

      Fans of the movie itself will still probably want the Blu-ray edition over the DVD, that is correct. My admonitions against the BD were more a warning to newcomers of the film, expecting a big-budget Hollywood spectacle from the 1980s.

      Given the economics of the Blu-ray format, MGM/Fox is never going to issue a better Blu-ray of Missing In Action. There is no budget for any type of extensive film restoration the movie probably needs at this point.

    2. gamereviewgod says:

      I think you WILL be happy, and that’s great. Enjoy away. For our purposes though, consider a time when Fox either decides to do a full remaster, or maybe a smaller distributor picks it up and does the same. We have to consider that it CAN look better, with better scans, clean-up, etc. Our job is to know when something isn’t being presented in the best possible manner, because left’s face it, if Alien 2: On Earth – a cheap Italian knock-off – can get a full 4K restoration for Blu-ray, so can a Chuck Norris actioner.

  5. Robin Løvli says:

    Ok, i see. I enjoy reading your reviews here and that you comment each screencaptures quality. Even though i don’t always agree with them, but if we all liked the same thing it would be boring.

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