P.O.W. the Escape (1986)

POWTheEscapePosterEverybody goes home! With these three simple words, David Carradine’s character (Colonel Jim Cooper) ensures that P.O.W. the Escape is one of the great movies of our or any time! Films that dramatize the bravery, honor, respect, and ass kick of our boys who are still over in Nam and the gutsy bastards who go back to bust them out of their tiger cages are the only reason that America tolerates the otherwise disgusting and unpatriotic practices and beliefs of liberal Hollywood

That’s one of the hitches in this whole democracy thing. You’ve got to put up with a certain amount of filth from anti-American longhairs in order to showcase the unwavering courage of the men who make it possible for these hippies to run down Jesus, the Flag, and families. It doesn’t make sense to me either, but that’s why we have to keep saying “love it or leave it!” It might eventually sink in!

Incredibly, one of Cooper’s soldier buddies tries to tell him that “everybody goes home” is just a slogan and not a religion and Cooper responds just like any one of us in his situation would: “speak for yourself!” And then Cooper goes out and proves it when in the middle of rescuing one batch of POWs he gets word that a bunch of our boys are pinned down by Charlie over on Radar Hill!

What does Cooper do? Call in an airstrike? Send for reinforcements? Say a little prayer for the soldiers? Are you a fifth columnist or something? Cooper marches through the jungle to Radar Hill to bring some of that old time Everybody Goes Home religion to the masses. Oh, and he does it by his freaking self!

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Before Cooper does any of that though, he’s brought in to rescue some POWs before the cease fire takes affect. Once the war ends, the POWs become MIAs and will disappear forever! He has to free them before that happens and get them to the coast where choppers will fly them to sweet freedom!

But instead of the stealthy plan he favors, the brass orders him to hit Charlie’s camp loud and proud to send a message! And that message is of course, “we’re coming to liberate POWs! Please set a trap for our noisy asses!”

Cooper gets captured and tossed in with the guys he was supposed to be busting out. Cooper has to immediately beat the piss out of guy named Sparks who doesn’t respect Everybody Goes Home. He’s just looking to escape with another guy that night!

Cooper also has to match wits with the evil Captain Vinh who runs the camp. Vinh repeatedly tries to get Cooper to cut a deal where he’ll help Vinh escape to America, but have to leave all his brothers in arms behind! Uh, do you know that you’re talking to Everybody Goes Home himself? Why don’t you just ask the sun to stop shining!

Carradine is pure American awesome as he unleashes a lethal combination of sneers, grimaces, and squints throughout the film! And as with all guys who have total faith in their religion, Cooper is unflappable no matter the situation.

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When Vinh threatens to kill him, Cooper advises him to do it because if he doesn’t, Cooper will kill him instead! When Vinh threatens to kill one of his men unless Cooper agrees to leave without them, Cooper stands impassively as Vinh shoots!

And am I the only one who was reminded of Moses going up to get all those commandments when Cooper walked off to Radar Hill? Sure, lots of Americans got themselves killed while Cooper was on his rescue mission, but they just didn’t believe enough in Everybody Goes Home!

Everybody Goes Home (EGH) wouldn’t be the major religion it is today if it was just about grizzled dogfaces running around shouting it at the top of their lungs while Charlie was chasing them in jeeps. A significant component of EGH is the active proselytizing that goes on. And by that, I mean all the shooting, neck snapping, impaling, exploding, and other enthusiastic displays of EGH that tends to happen in Filipino jungles dressed up like early 1970s Vietnam!

Scientific research has shown that we actually “killed” more Vietnamese soldiers and destroyed more bamboo huts in POW movies than in the actual conflict itself! But that’s going to happen when EGH dudes like Cooper are pushing humongous fuel tanks done mountains right smack into a big Charlie nest!

You should have seen the beatific look on his face when explosions that rivaled the fires in the pits of hell itself went off as he was cruising away from the scene with the rest of the freed POWs!

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Like all great religious stories, P.O.W. the Escape also demonstrates how even those who rejected EGH from the beginning can be redeemed when the chips are down! Remember the self-centered Sparks who fought Cooper and wanted to do things on his own?

His life was one of not caring about his fellow soldiers, stealing gold, and bailing out when it suited his own needs! But after some tequila and an encounter with a whore, he finally started flashing back to what a piece of garbage he had been!

Perhaps finally realizing that he could never really “go home” unless everyone did, he raced on his stolen motorcycle to save the guys he abandoned with an act of self-sacrifice that even amazed the normally robot-like Cooper! We’ll see you in heaven, kid!

Cooper’s unyielding faith in EGH inevitably wins over all who run with him! Just when it seems like all hope is lost on Radar Hill and the machine gun that Cooper’s been hauling around and cutting swaths through the enemy jams on him, his soldiers, lead by the late great Steve James (American Ninja, Avenging Force), rolls up to pitch in and do a bunch of killing! But don’t worry, Cooper still settles up personally with Captain Vinh, making good on his earlier promise!

P.O.W. the Escape is a brutally fast-paced 90 minutes of the toughest Nam action you could ever desire! There isn’t a second in this movie that isn’t desensitizing some part of your brain with violence!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

3 thoughts on “P.O.W. the Escape (1986)

  1. Always amazed me how David Carradine could be considered a “action movie” icon. His most memorable role as Caine in Kung Fu wasnt that of a violent guy, quite the opposite. He wasn’t proficient in martial arts or even had a great physique (in fact, he looked quite flabby and dumpy in most of his movies). And he wasn’t even a very good actor, either.

    I guess people had more the impression of him being a badass than him actually being one.

  2. I was going to say that they couldn’t get away with that today, but then I remembered all the absurd action movies starring Liam Neeson, whose tough guy cred seems to be that he’s a surly sixty-something British guy.

    1. Good point. Though I like Neeson and IMO the first Taken was a good movie, the second and particularly third installments were terrible.

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