Jean Claude Van Damme was one of the stuntmen for this movie. His name appears in the credits under Stunts Performed by as J. Claude Van Damme. This was before his breakthrough performance in Bloodsport (1988).
Filmed simultaneously with Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985), from June until October 1984, this was supposed to be the sequel. However when the producers realized this film was the better of the two, they simply renamed them and made the other film a prequel to this. This explains why Steve Bing receives a credit for "characters" because he wrote the screenplay for what became the prequel.
In his autobiography, Chuck Norris stated that he made this film as a memorial honor of his younger brother Wieland, who was killed in the Vietnam War in 1970.
The superficial plot similarity to 'Rambo - First Blood Part 2' isn't entirely coincidental. When Sylvester Stallone was trying to raise production funds for that film he approached independent production company Cannon Films with the basic premise to see if they would be interested in backing it. Cannon were eager to work with a big international box office draw like Stallone but found the scope of the film he was wanting to make to be way outside their usual production budgets of 2 to 4 million dollars and were not able to stump up the $30 million + Stallone was looking for his film so had to pass. However they liked the concept of the film and had it retooled into a movie for Chuck Norris, a far less expensive action star, and B movie director Joseph Zito, who had experience of making horror films on tight budgets. Cannon would eventually get their chance to make two relatively expensive glossy films with Stallone, those films being 'Cobra' (1986) and 'Over the Top' (1987) after they had entered into a production deal with Warner Brothers.
This was the first film in Chuck Norris' five film contract with Cannon Films which paid him a million dollars per film which was agreed to by Menahem Golan against the wishes of his cousin, Yoram Globus.
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