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The Dogs of War (1980)

6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 5,535 users  
Reviews: 49 user | 31 critic

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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Title: The Dogs of War (1980)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Colin Blakely ...
Hugh Millais ...
Endean
...
Derek
Jean-François Stévenin ...
Michel (as Jean François Stevenin)
...
Jessie
Robert Urquhart ...
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

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | 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:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Legendary international arms dealer Sam Cummings was the founder of International Armaments Corporation shortly after WWII. Cummings is mentioned in the book "The Dogs Of War" by Frederick Forsyth, on which this movie is based. But these mercenaries don't have the money, or need the large quantities of arms, to try to do business with Cummings. He is way above their class. So in the book AND the movie they have to skulk around doing business with small-time arms dealers, who are indeed a dangerous bunch. Interarms, as it was known, had the initials IAC. These initials appeared continuously on all of Interarms' packing tape. So a shipment from Interarms read IACIACIACIACIA, which obviously appears to be CIA over and over. This was intentional. See more »

Goofs

When Shannon meets with Endean and Bobi, in subsequent shots his necktie moves from the left to right side of his shirt. See more »

Quotes

Drew: [the mercenaries are caught in the middle of a fire fight] What happened to us just providing tactical and logistical support?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

When It's Springtime in the Rockies
(uncredited)
Music by Robert Sauer
Lyrics by Maryhale Woolsey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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