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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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


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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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

The original Manville Gun was designed in 1935 by Charles Manville as a 12gauge multi-barrel shotgun (24 shot capacity). However, the XM-18 in DOW is based on an updated 1936 design as a 25mm grenade launcher with an 18 shot capacity (hence the "18" in XM-18). The movie version was still considerably more powerful than WWII era 25mm grenades were capable of. Unable to interest the military in his design, Manville's company stopped making the weapon. Ironically, in the early 1980's, the movie Dogs of War served to generate some interest from the military. Utilizing updated manufacturing processes and materials, the XM-18 type grenade launcher has actually seen some military service as a 25mm (18 shot) or 40mm (12 shot) grenade launcher. It is used by US Special Forces as well as some South American and African countries. With a range of between 150-350 meters, and with modern explosive technology, the 25mm grenade is fully capable of causing as much or more damage as was portrayed in the film. The 40mm grenade version uses the same projectile as is used in the Mk 19 grenade launcher which is widely used in the US Army. The current manufacturer is the Hawk Engineering Company who makes it under the designation MM-1. 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?
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Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Norman Jewison (1999) 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

Good detailed film, though faulted in its battle scenes
6 March 2000 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

The entire beginning and middle of the film are utterly engrossing. It was a nice change to see a film that showed the amount of planning and attention to detail and contingency plans that goes into preparing a military operation, even a quick raid like the one planned here. The final raid however is a disappointment though, especially because of the realistic and detailed nature of the film to that point. These are serious professional mercenaries in a gritty realistic film and in the final battle, logic and realism go out the window as these "professionals" walk slowly in the open firing from the hip like they were in a Rambo film. Had they fought like that in real life, they'd have all been killed in the first few seconds. I don't think the director understood the nature of combat and that's too bad because otherwise, this film is a gem.


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