20 December 2007

P.O.W. The Escape

P.O.W. The Escape
a.k.a. Attack Force Nam, Behind Enemy Lines
United States - 1986
Director – Gideon Amir
Video Treasures, Inc., 1989, VHS

As the negotiations are going on in Paris in 1973, Col. Jim Cooper (David Carradine) stomps into his commanding officers office in a rage demanding to know why their rescue mission plans have been changed. Damnit, if Chuck Norris can make four, count ‘em, four POW rescue movies, goddamnit, Carradine wants one too.

Without hesitation, Cooper hops on a chopper with a bunch of green privates and air assaults the purported POW camp, unloading a chopperful of shoot from the hip naivete only to discover that, duh, the camp is abandoned. Or is it! To a rockin’ 80’s soundtrack the North Vietnamese Army start mortaring the camp and the Americans pull back, but true to his motto of “Everyone goes home,” Cooper goes back into the fray for wounded boot, Teague. Narrowly escaping, they are about to get on the chopper when it is rocketed and they are forced to flee on foot into the jungle where Teague soon dies and Cooper is captured.

Taken to an inhabited camp, Cooper meets the rest of the prisoners who include Steve James (American Ninja & several Norris flicks), and the commander of the camp, Maj. Vinh (Mako of Norris’s An Eye for an Eye). Instructed to send Cooper to Hanoi as a bargaining chip, Vinh decides to cut his own deal.

If Cooper helps Vinh get to American lines (with a big sack of gold and cash he’s stolen from prisoners) the two of them can avoid Hanoi altogether and go free. Without the inclusion of the other prisoners, Cooper refuses. After kicking the ass of Sparks, a recalcitrant POW who disagrees with his plan, Cooper stonyfaces Vinh into caving, and they all roll out of camp with the POW’s hidden in a water truck.

Inevitably, the truck is shot up and the guys pile out into some hand-to-hand combat/yelling etc, in which Vinh disappears. Having discovered the sack of loot, Cooper stashes it and Sparks takes off in a jeep thinking he has it. Vinh returns and gives chase in another jeep. Cooper and the remaining guys follow in wooden canoes until they meet up with some other GI’s searching for help for their besieged base on Radar Hill.

With little time left to one up Norris’s Col. Braddock, Col. Cooper goes to the rescue once again, this time all alone until the other guys gung ho into the fray with hoots, hollers a dirtbike and a hole in the chest. Oozing big dumb water buffalo heroics, and frankly, flat out stupidity, all while draped in an American flag, Cooper smashes through the walls of subtlety to reach the inner sanctum of excess.‘Namsploitation is arguably a fun little niche from the video era, but this movie manages to use the entertaining staples of the genre to make 90 minutes feel like 190. I lost count of false endings and secondary and even tertiary characters. The one redeeming characteristic is that despite it’s plentiful use of war violence it refrains from the overt sadism of the Norris MIA series, and if one doesn’t nitpick the inaccuracies and machismo, it’s still pretty ridiculous fun.

Covers for title Attack Force Nam:

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