(US - 1986)
Directed by Gideon Amir. Written by Jeremy Lipp, James Bruner, Malcolm Barbour and John Langley. Cast: David Carradine, Mako, Charles R. Floyd, Steve James, Phil Brock, Daniel Demorest, Tony Pierce, Steve Freedman, James Acheson, Rudy Daniels, Ken Metcalfe, Kenneth Weaver, Jim Gaines, Eric Hahn, Henry Strzlkowski. (R, 89 mins)
"He's got one rule that's never been broken: everybody goes home!"
Released by Cannon in the spring of 1986, the Namsploitation outing P.O.W.: THE ESCAPE isn't a MISSING IN ACTION sequel but it might as well be. It shares one MISSING IN ACTION co-writer and its plot has quite a few surface similarities with MISSING IN ACTION 2: THE BEGINNING, but instead of Chuck Norris as Col. James Braddock, we get David Carradine as Col. Jim Cooper, a military legend and Pentagon strategist who volunteers for One Last Mission. It's 1973 Vietnam, five days before the cease fire, and the US is launching a last hurrah raid on a known POW camp out of concern that the men will be forgotten after the cease fire and declared MIA. Cooper's rule is "Everybody goes home!" but that's not the case when the small unit accompanying him is wiped out in a chopper explosion waiting for Cooper, who went back to save the injured young Teague (Kenneth Weaver), whose fate was sealed the moment he kissed a cross on his necklace and declared "I got my own insurance right here." Instead of freeing the men, Cooper ends up captured with them in a camp run by the ruthless Capt. Vinh (THE SAND PEBBLES Oscar-nominee Mako). Vinh is informed that Cooper is now the highest-ranking American in captivity and his commanders want him taken to Hanoi for a sham trial before being executed, but Vinh has another idea: he wants Cooper to take him to Saigon, where Vinh will renounce his allegiance to North Vietnam and defect to the US to join relatives in Miami.
THE AMBASSADOR and MISSING IN ACTION, and co-writing AMERICAN NINJA before Menahem Golan gave him a shot at making his own movie. Amir does a serviceable job and keeps the film moving, but there's a couple of hiccups, namely a bizarre moment when a nighttime Jeep chase just abruptly ends and cuts to the next morning. Amir has only directed one other movie to date--1989's ACCIDENTS--but remains active in cable and streaming TV shows, most recently as a producer on Amazon Prime's CARNIVAL ROW and DC Universe's DOOM PATROL.
AMERICAN NINJA 3: BLOOD HUNT, he was still saddled playing second fiddle to new American Ninja David Bradley, when simply handing the franchise over to James would've been a much smarter decision. P.O.W. seems more interested in making a star of "Charles R. Floyd," who had appeared on the last few years of the long-running daytime soap THE EDGE OF NIGHT under the name "Charles Grant," and who, according to Amir in a newly-shot interview on the Blu-ray, was seen by Golan as "a new James Dean." Not quite. Not helping Floyd/Grant--either an aspiring actor or the least cooperative person in witness protection--was the fact that he acted in three different Cannon films under three different names. He's "Charles R. Floyd" here, he was "Charles Floye" in THE DELTA FORCE, and he was credited in RAPPIN' as "Charles Flohe." Following P.O.W., he found consistent work on more daytime soaps like ANOTHER WORLD, SANTA BARBARA, and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, reverting back to his "Charles Grant" name.
P.O.W.: THE ESCAPE opening in Toledo, OH on 4/4/1986