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The Dogs of War (1980)

6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 5,259 users  
Reviews: 48 user | 13 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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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Dogs of War (1980)

The Dogs of War (1980) on IMDb 6.3/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Colin Blakely ...
North
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:

The Dogs of War  »

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "dogs of war" phrase takes its literary origins from William Shakespeare. It appears in Act 3, Scene 1, line 273 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. It reads: "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war". This Shakespearian phrase was actually used as a tagline for this movie. See more »

Goofs

The scene at the railway station is set at London's Liverpool Street, made obvious by the Great Eastern Hotel prominently in the background. However, the station announcement says the train is for Rugby, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Sheffield. Trains do not go from Liverpool Street station to these destinations and did not at the time the film was set. A likelier station for such departure would have been St Pancras. See more »

Quotes

Drew: [Shannon is recruiting men] Count me in; I'll go.
Shannon: Don't you want to know where and what?
Drew: Doesn't matter. My wife's six months pregnant. Wherever we're going, it's gotta be better than sittin' around watchin' her get fat.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries
Sung by Gillian McPherson
Music by Geoffrey Burgon
Poem by A.E. Housman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Pretty intelligent and calm film by John Irvin
8 July 2002 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

John Irvin directed this film, starring Christopher Walken as war veteran mercenary who gets a job by government to travel to Africa and inform the situation that is pretty hot in there. He does it, and sees the violence that takes place there, and when he returns to US and tells about the evil dictator that dominates there, the new job for him is to travel there again and wipe out the incarnation of evil..

This film isn't any action film as many seem to have expected - me included

  • but this is pretty sophisticated, but still also little slow moving (dir.
cut. 15mins longer than the US version) portrait about the state of some countries in the world, and what these dictators can do to people and country. I'm mostly fascinated by the film's atmosphere and calmness as there isn't stupid gunplay or other usual flaws often found in these films. Walken acts greatly in his role of retired war veteran who takes the job only because of money offered to him. At the end, a twist in plot is coming and all the greediness and betrayal in the film gets a new face.

The end is little stupid as it tries to imitate Apocalypse Now a little, by depicting Walken's face and "the horror" as Francis Ford Coppola did, and the gun fights at the end are also little unnecessary, especially when the film managed to be without them for so long. Still the result is satisfying, yet little too long and occasionally may make the viewer feel little tired, but this film isn't meant to be watched when tired. The US distributor cut the original version by over ten minutes, and I saw the original director's cut which includes many important bits of dialogue and things that add to the film. So I recommend the director's cut of the film as it is the directors original version.

Dogs of War is pretty intelligent and interesting depiction of power and dictatorship, and also very nostalgic in its atmosphere and scenery. The gun battle at the end of the film is great looking and also gripping, but as mentioned, also little unnecessary and too traditional finale. 7/10


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