6.3/10
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56 user 39 critic

The Dogs of War (1980)

Mercenary James Shannon, on a reconnaissance job to the African nation of Zangaro, is tortured and deported. He returns to lead a coup.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Hugh Millais ...
Endean
...
Derek
Jean-François Stévenin ...
Michel (as Jean François Stevenin)
...
Jessie
...
Capt. Lockhart
Winston Ntshona ...
Dr. Okoye
...
The Captain (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Harlan Cary Poe ...
Richard
...
Terry
Isabel Grandin ...
Evelyn
Ernest Graves ...
Warner
Kelvin Thomas ...
The Black Boy
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Storyline

Jamie Shannon is a soldier of fortune -- a mercenary who will stage a coup or a revolution for the right price. He is hired by British mining interests to scout out Zangaro, a small African nation with rich mineral deposits but a brutal and xenophobic dictatorship. Arrested soon after his arrival, Shannon is imprisoned as a spy, badly beaten, and tortured. While in prison he meets one of the country's leading intellectuals, Dr. Okoye, also imprisoned by the regime. Eventually released, he returns to London and is subsequently offered to opportunity to secretly invade Zangaro's capital and lead a military coup. Shannon accepts, but quietly has his own agenda to pursue. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Cry 'Havoc!' And Let Slip The Dogs Of War


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 February 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cães de Guerra  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print) | (cut) (1988) (video release) | (cut) (1981) (cinema release)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie's Director of Photography, Jack Cardiff once directed another movie about mercenaries in Africa entitled Dark of the Sun (1968), also based on a novel (by Wilbur Smith). That movie was also known as "The Mercenaries". See more »

Goofs

When the team is discussing the weapons they will need for their attack, Shannon mentions their requirement for "9 Millimeter Quad" ammunition. There is no such thing as a "Quad" version of 9mm ammunition. See more »

Quotes

Shannon: [to Endean and Bobi, who have arrived after the fighting is over] You're late!
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Connections

Referenced in Beauty (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries
Sung by Gillian McPherson
Music by Geoffrey Burgon
Poem by A.E. Housman
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Gritty and violent motion picture in the debut theatrical feature for director John Irvin.
26 August 2013 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

The "dogs of war" (this phrase takes its literary origins from William Shakespeare) is an exciting as well as interesting action/war film . It concerns a military coup in an African country and stars Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger , though he has said in interviews that around half of his role was omitted from the final release print . It deals with mercenary James Shannon (Christopher Walken) , on a reconnaissance job to the African nation of Zangaro, is tortured and deported . He returns to lead a coup and tangles with an Idi Amin-alike dictator. As various soldiers of fortune (Tom Berenger , Paul Freeman , among others) , used to be the best of friends give a toast : ¨Long live death, long live war, long live the cursed mercenary" (this is an adaptation of the original Foreign legion toast) and all of them battle side by side in hellhole Africa .

This war film packs adventures , large-scale blow-up , thrilling plot , and lots of action for the most part , but also contains too much dialogue . It's a good mix of action-packed , adventure , thriller and warfare genre . Overly somber rendition based on Frederick Forsyth's novel , in fact , while researching the novel in the early 1970s, author pretended he was actually financing a coup d'etat in Equatorial Guinea , the pretense allowed Forsyth access to a number of underworld figures, including mercenaries and arms dealers ; Forsyth has since commented that the arms dealers were the most frightening people he has ever met . Frederick is a famous author best-sellers whose novels have been successfully adapted to cinema and TV such as ¨The day of Jackal¨, ¨Odessa¨ and ¨The fourth protocol¨ . Fine support cast who realize professionally competent interpretations , some of them with no more than a line or two to say such as Colin Blakely , Paul Freeman , and brief interventions from JoBeth Williams , Robert Urquhart , Ed O'Neill , Jim Broadbent , Jean Pierre Kalfon , Victoria Tennant , Pedro Armendariz Jr and first cinema film of David Schofield.

Good cinematography by Jack Cardiff , who also shot a movie about mercenaries in Africa titled ¨The mercenaries¨, it was filmed on location , as African and Central America sequences were filmed in Belize City, Belize in Central America . The motion picture was well directed by John Irvin , though it was originally going to be directed by Norman Jewison. John had previously filmed amidst real life battles when he worked in a television news crew in Vietnam during the 1960s. Irvin once said: "Unlike most young film directors, I've been in battle. Throughout the sixties I went to various war zones and I met numerous mercenaries in Algeria and South East Asia, so I had my own personal strings to draw on. I would say our depiction of mercenaries is pretty accurate. We talked to a lot of mercenaries and were able to get a lot of information from them about how they would have handled the operation". As the movie's major battle sequence was directed by director John Irvin and not the Second Unit Director . Rating : Nice picture , better than average . Worthwhile watching .


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