Picks and Pans Review: Missing in Action

updated 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

Chuck Norris films used to be known for murky cinematography, disjointed plot, nebulous character development, thudding dialogue and bad acting. Missing in Action is no Citizen Kane, but it is a professional effort and, for grind-'em-up fans, Norris' best vehicle to dateā€”an Uncommon Valor without the pretensions. As a retired Army colonel, Norris is consumed by his nightmares of the Vietnam war and the eight years he spent as a POW. When he returns to Ho Chi Minh City with a Senate committee investigating the issue of MIAs, he soon waxes indignant at the behavior of the Vietnamese representatives. Soon old Chuckles is decimating battalions of rotten Commies, and he has never been more menacing. Director Joseph (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) Zito, incorporating frequent flashbacks, keeps combat in your face throughout. The supporting cast is erratic. M. Emmet (Cannery Row) Walsh, as the booze hound Norris recruits to help him, plays a stereotype, not a real person. Newcomer Ernie Ortega looks much more like a delinquent from East L.A.'s barrio than he does a Vietnamese commandant. The film's ending seems anticlimactic too. Whatever else it's lacking, however, one thing this film is definitely not missing is action. (R)

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