IMDb > The Dogs of War (1980)
The Dogs of War
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The Dogs of War (1980) More at IMDbPro »

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The Dogs of War -- This riveting adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's best-seller stars Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger as mercenaries hired by a shadowy cartel to dethrone an African dictator.
The Dogs of War -- This riveting adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's best-seller stars Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger as mercenaries hired by a shadowy cartel to dethrone an African dictator.


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6.3/10   6,015 votes »
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Up 20% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Gary DeVore (screenplay) and
George Malko (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for The Dogs of War on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
13 February 1981 (USA) See more »
Cry 'Havoc!' And Let Slip The Dogs Of War
Mercenary James Shannon, on a reconnaissance job to the African nation of Zangaro, is tortured and deported. He returns to lead a coup. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Perhaps A Difficult Novel To Adapt For Cinema See more (52 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Christopher Walken ... Jamie Shannon

Tom Berenger ... Drew
Colin Blakely ... North
Hugh Millais ... Endean

Paul Freeman ... Derek
Jean-François Stévenin ... Michel (as Jean François Stevenin)

JoBeth Williams ... Jessie
Robert Urquhart ... Capt. Lockhart
Winston Ntshona ... Dr. Okoye

Pedro Armendáriz Jr. ... The Captain (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Harlan Cary Poe ... Richard

Ed O'Neill ... Terry
Isabel Grandin ... Evelyn
Ernest Graves ... Warner
Kelvin Thomas ... The Black Boy

Shane Rimmer ... Dr. Oaks
Joseph Konrad ... Priest (as Father Joseph Konrad)

Bruce McLane ... Shop Manager

George Harris ... Col. Bobi (as George W. Harris)

David Schofield ... Endean's Man
Terence Rigby ... Hackett
Tony Mathews ... Bank Vice President
John Quentin ... Party Guest
Jean-Pierre Kalfon ... Benny Lambert
Christopher Malcolm ... Baker
Jack Lenoir ... Boucher

André Penvern ... Policeman (as Andre Penvern)
Lawrence Davidson ... Policeman

Martin LaSalle ... Customs Officer (as Martin La Salle)
Maggie Scott ... Gabrielle

Hugh Quarshie ... Zangaron Officer
Olu Jacobs ... Customs Officer
Gyearbuor Asante ... Geoffrey (as Christopher Asante)
Thomas Baptiste ... Dexter
Eddie Tagoe ... Jinja
Kenny Ireland ... Film Crew

Jim Broadbent ... Film Crew
André Toffel ... Priest (as Andre Toffel)
Diana Bracho ... Nun
Ilario Bisi-Pedro ... Kimba (as Ilarrio Bisi Pedro)
Joanne Flanagan ... Godmother
Robert Berger ... Poker Player
William Cain ... Poker Player (as William B. Cain)
Russell T. Carr ... Poker Player
José Rabelo ... Hotel Clerk (as Jose Rabelo)

Victoria Tennant ... Dinner Party Guest
Erica Creer ... Dinner Party Guest
Sheila Ruskin ... Dinner Party Guest
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alan Beckwith ... Mercenary (uncredited)
Mason Cardiff ... Boy in Station (uncredited)

David Mandel ... Long Shoreman (uncredited)

Ángel Ramírez ... Beggar (uncredited)

Directed by
John Irvin 
Writing credits
Gary DeVore (screenplay) and
George Malko (screenplay)

Frederick Forsyth (novel)

Produced by
Larry DeWaay .... producer
Norman Jewison .... executive producer
Patrick J. Palmer .... executive producer (as Patrick Palmer)
Original Music by
Geoffrey Burgon 
Cinematography by
Jack Cardiff (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Antony Gibbs 
Production Design by
Peter Mullins 
Art Direction by
Bert Davey 
John Siddall 
Costume Design by
Emma Porteous 
Makeup Department
Ramon Gow .... hairdresser
Richard Mills .... makeup artist
Neville Smallwood .... makeup artist
Production Management
Lois Kramer Hartwick .... unit production manager: New York (as Lois Hartwick)
Ted Lloyd .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Gerry Gavigan .... second assistant director
Lewis Gould .... second assistant director: New York
Terry Madden .... second assistant director
Michelle Marx .... first assistant director: Miami
John Robertson .... second assistant director: Miami
Candace Suerstedt .... first assistant director: New York (as Candace Suerstedt-Rehmet)
Anthony Waye .... first assistant director
Art Department
Roy Carnon .... illustrator
Fred Carter .... set dresser
Harry Cordwell .... set dresser
Tony Graysmark .... construction manager
Dave Jordan .... property master
John Roberts .... lead scenic
Tom Jung .... poster artist (uncredited)
Tom Jung .... poster designer (uncredited)
Sound Department
Don Banks .... sound camera
Graham V. Hartstone .... dubbing mixer
Nicolas Le Messurier .... dubbing mixer
Archie Ludski .... dubbing editor
Gordon K. McCallum .... chief dubbing mixer
Ivan Sharrock .... sound mixer
Lionel Strutt .... adr mixer
Ken Weston .... boom operator
Les Wiggins .... dubbing editor
Special Effects by
Lawrence J. Cavanaugh .... special effects (as Larry Cavanaugh)
Michael Collins .... special effects (as Mike Collins)
Rudy Liszczak .... special effects (as Rudi Liszczak)
Joe Lombardi .... special effects coordinator
Steve Lombardi .... special effects
Jay Amor .... utility stunts
John Ashby .... stunts
Alex Brown .... stunts
Lincoln McSweeney .... stunts
Roy Scammell .... stunts
Eddie Smith .... stunts
Eddie Stacey .... stunt coordinator: Europe
Marvin Walters .... stunt coordinator: Africa
Ray Woodfork .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Richard Blanshard .... still photographer
John Cardiff .... additional photographer
Irving Deutch .... director of photography: New York
John Elton .... director of photography: Miami
Frank Heeney .... gaffer
David James .... still photographer
Colin Manning .... camera grip
Peter Norman .... camera operator: New York (as Peter D. Norman)
Bill Pochetty .... best boy
Danny Shelmerdine .... second assistant camera
Robin Vidgeon .... first assistant camera
Chic Waterson .... camera operator
Ron Zarilla .... first assistant camera: New York
Casting Department
Jane Feinberg .... casting: USA
Mike Fenton .... casting: USA
Susie Figgis .... casting: Europe
Julia Pascal .... location casting
Dee Miller .... extras casting: local (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Keith Denny .... wardrobe master
Editorial Department
Terry Busby .... assistant editor
Peter Honess .... assistant editor
Other crew
Barbara Allen .... production coordinator
Pamela Allen .... assistant to producer
Yvonne Axeworthy .... script supervisor (as Yvonne Axworthy)
Peter Bennett .... location manager (as Peter D. Bennett)
Charles Cannon .... production accountant
John Downes .... location manager
Cassian Elwes .... production assistant
Terry Needham .... location manager
Gregory Palmer .... production assistant
Mike Russell .... unit publicist
Alan Beckwith .... stand-in: Christopher Walken (uncredited)
Jeremy Coote .... production runner (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
UK:118 min | USA:102 min | USA:104 min (TCM print) | Finland:114 min (cut) (1988) (video release) | Finland:105 min (cut) (1981) (cinema release)
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M | Brazil:16 | Finland:K-16 (cut) (1988) | Finland:K-16 (heavily cut) (1981) | Finland:K-16 (heavily cut) (1980) | France:-12 | Iceland:16 | Norway:16 (1981) | Singapore:PG | South Korea:18 | Sweden:15 | UK:15 | USA:R | West Germany:16
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

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 »
Factual errors: 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 »
Shannon:[about his mercenaries] Everybody comes with me, goes home.See more »
Movie Connections:
Edited into Stealth Fighter (1999)See more »
Epitaph on an Army of MercenariesSee more »


What military units do the mercenaries belong to?
Is any of this based on real events?
-How does the film differ from the book?
See more »
25 out of 33 people found the following review useful.
Perhaps A Difficult Novel To Adapt For Cinema, 25 January 2005
Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland

The great thing about reading a Fredirick Forsyth novel is that you're educated while being entertained . He gives you facts and details on everything from modern jet fighters to Ukrainian history . The problem with this though is that the info tend to hold up the narrative which makes a Forsyth novel difficult to successfully translate to screen and to be honest the original THE DOGS OF WAR novel isn't really a book that will appeal to a cinema goer who's into no brain action shoot them ups . I can forgive this since I know what to expect from a Forsyth story but would Mr action fan ? I can just imagine a disappointed Arnie/Bruce/Sly fan slagging the movie off for having only two battle scenes , one at the start of the movie and one at the end , so let me point out that if you're expecting to see DIE HARD IN AFRICA it's maybe not you're kind of movie

If there's a problem with the movie it's mainly down to the structure of the novel with much of the running time taken up with planning the coup , getting the equipment , hiring the boat etc . I also noticed the dialogue was a bit iffy " Which one of your men do I kill to make way for mine ? " . Things like structure and dialogue don't matter too much on the written page but tend to leap out at you on the silver screen , but as many of the commentators on this page have pointed out it's an action film/political thriller with a brain . It's perhaps not as enjoyable as say THE DARK OF THE SUN or THE WILD GEESE but there's certainly entertainment to be had trying to spot the actor before they were a well known face

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (52 total) »

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