Rabble in search of rousing should head for "Missing in Action 2: The Beginning," probably the fastest sequel in the history of the movie business. Why was Chuck Norris so wrapped up with rage in last fall's "Missing in Action"? I'll tell you why! He was tortured by commies!
Which is about all that happens for the first hour or so. After their Huey nosedives behind enemy lines in Cambodia (actually, the resort island of St. Kitts), Colonel Braddock (Norris) and his cadre fall into the hands of the coolly sadistic Colonel Yin (Soon-Teck Oh). He doesn't shove bamboo shoots beneath their fingernails, although he might have. Instead, he beats them, refuses them quinine when they succumb to malaria, and (the clever devil) uses psychology, telling the MIAs that their wives have remarried back home.
As one of Yin's sidekicks, professional wrestler Professor Toru Tanaka adds some spice, employing some of the techniques that have made him legendary in the squared circle. And one of the tortures gets your blood pumping -- a canvas bag containing a rat is strapped around Norris' head, as he hangs from his heels. The bag reddens with blood, the tussle concludes, and when the bag is removed, Norris holds the rat between his clenched teeth. Yet another life saved by Extra Strength Poli-Grip.
But the prologue is superfluous -- we already know these are the bad guys -- so "Missing in Action 2" starts to drone. Finally, in its last half-hour, the movie delivers what it promises -- a lot of explosions and some yahoo fu by karate champion Norris (is this what he learned from Lee Strasberg?). But it's hard to tell what the point of all this patriotic gore is. If this is what the Republicans mean when they say it's morning in America again, well, don't set your alarm.
Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, at area theaters, is rated R and contains graphic violence, nudity and some profanity.