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The Dogs of War
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The Dogs of War More at IMDbPro »

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40 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Not for children

Author: nonconformist from Texas
1 April 2004

That is, not for those with child like tastes. If you require non-stop action ... move along. The characters are set up nicely and Walken is just too cool, I think it's his best performance. Most of his fans don't know about this movie but it's a gem. There are a few scenes I would have left on the cutting floor but they can be overlooked. There's a scene with his doctor that is worth watching the whole movie over. But there's plenty more. There's good dialog, nice scenery, some action and some characters you actually care about. This is not an assault on your senses; you will have to pay attention to enjoy it. But it will be worth your time. If you are a fan of Christopher Walken, then it will be well worth your time.

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29 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Quite interesting…

Author: Righty-Sock ( from Mexico
20 June 2008

Shannon (Christopher Walken) is a mercenary war who accepted for the sum of 15,000 dollars to fly to a fictional country in West Africa on a survey mission to procure military information concerning the stability of a dictator's regime, his position strength, and if there is any chance for a coup?

Posing as an American naturalist—especially in native birds—Shannon landed in Zangaro and gathered all the facts he needed but after suffering a brutal beating from the guards for taking pictures of one of the mistresses of the dictator's in front of his compound…

When he's offered a large amount of money to gather a well-equipped mercenary force and go back to Zangaro and lead a military takeover, he reluctantly assents…

The assault has authority, power and unexpected... consequences. So don't miss it!

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28 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps A Difficult Novel To Adapt For Cinema

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
25 January 2005

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

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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Existential mercenaries go to war for war's sake. One of best of breed.

Author: Albarino from United States
13 November 2005

Lean, pared down to action, efficiently told story of a mercenary band with a code of honor worthy of Hemingway's life maxim "grace under pressure." Walken's performance is truly riveting, simply acting the truth without embellishment, this is professional soldier whose purpose --- loyalty to his fellow soldiers and dedication to his task --- is clean and spare: get in, win, get out, come home has been rarely topped in movies. A modern day samurai with fatalistic existential details all pass with utter credibility and uncluttered and unremarked on. Chillingly well told. Once it grips you, you will not be released until the end credits. Cuts to the bone. Jack Cardiff's cinematography is a textbook of low budget, maximum effect visuals. Walken seems skinned by combat; you never doubt this is a peak experience for him, there are no alternatives.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A good match for the times

Author: inspectors71 from Fly-Over Country
7 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I tried to read The Dogs of War when I was in high school in the mid 70's and got bored; yes, I had the attention span of a gnat and Forsyth's novel was both dry and clinical in its careful examination of the platinum-driven purchase of an African nation.

I saw the movie on cable in the early 80's and, thanks to its prudent editing of what I perceived as the book's excesses, I gave Forsyth's story my own inconsequential (in the grand scheme of things) stamp of approval.

I finally read the book in 2000; somewhere along the way I picked up a used full-length attention span! I've seen TDOW about five times (the last was yesterday; Superbowls generally bore me worse than dry, clinical novels) and I have to say that this is a rarity, a movie better than the book. Whether it was Christopher Walken's jerky, paranoid performance, the superbly shown squalor of the capitol of the country about to be taken, or the pathetic, teary fear in President Kimba's eyes, I was both hooked and pleased by the film version.

The Dogs of War isn't a great film or a well-known one, but it was both entertaining and diverting. All a viewer needs on Superbowl Sunday!

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19 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Anybody want to buy a Coup'?

Author: Ghenghy from Charlotte North By God Carolina
5 September 2002

The best of the "hired killers takes out a bassackwards third world African nation in ten minutes or less" genre. Christopher Walken fans will love this one as he occupies the camera for about 98% of the film and does an admirable job playing ringleader to a small band of mercenaries hired by London's Enron branch to take down some dude with a Gucci sword named Kimba, the benevolent ruler of Okka Bokka Boo. The pace is a little slow for my tastes but they threw in my favorite girl next door, JoBeth Williams, as Walkens ex-wife just to keep me occupied while the guns were being shipped in from Switzerland or somewhere. All I can tell you is the climax is worth waiting for. It's outstanding actually. The DVD is a little disappointing. 2ch sound and no widescreen. See if you can spot Ed O'Neill from Married With Children fame. 7 hand grenades/10

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A role made to order for Christopher Walken

Author: albates from Roi-Namur, Marshall Islands
5 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Semi-spoilers ahead... Pretty faithful to the Fredrick Forsythe novel; not so much a war movie as a suspense movie; the short "war" at the end is the result of patience and careful planning - lots of international wheeling-dealing and intrigue. Walken plays the perfectly stoic aging mercenary who's beginning to wrestle with the moral aspects of his profession, and in the end decides to do the "right" thing instead of just what he's been paid to do............Well worth watching. Watch for Ed O'Neill in an early film role.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Solid tale of murky financial enterprise and it's violent muscle

Author: garyjpurcell-1 from United Kingdom
11 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Frederick Forsyth's novels always lay firm ground for a screenplay adaption and next to Fred Zinneman's 1973 Day Of The Jackal this is the finest of the batch. It is not by any means perfect film-making as much of the sequences move along in a very by-the-numbers fashion, though never clumsily. Director Irvin seems more adept at the handling of his cast. Walken is solid as the coldly pragmatic soldier-for-hire, one of his best suited roles. And he has very convincing support all round.

There is very much the sense that the mercenary soldiers involved are bottom of the food chain in the greater and greedier scheme of things, and the money being offered for jobs risking life and limb seems pittance at that. The loneliness of the Walken character who seems to walk the land of the dead on civie street and only find his zest in combat is nicely emphasised. Most of the bureaucrats and tyrants are played perfectly for their complete lack of consideration for humanity. There are few if any obvious moral dictations in the narrative and this remains faithful to Forsyth's approach. We are, after all, not playing with children here. This is a most violent and unscrupulous underbelly of the political world. The violence is matter of fact, only stylised in one particular brief scene of torture with a shard of glass that this viewer found to be one of the most painful from any film.

The ending is certainly worth the wait as Walken's small fish turns the coup at the heart of the overall plot into a coup of his very own. In this there is something noble amidst the entire desolation of things and it is apparent that the man who wields the gun is always in charge.

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A gritty and hard-boiled adventure.

Author: mhasheider from Sauk City, Wisconsin
12 July 2001

Sent to checkout the political situation in the Africian nation of Zangaro, Shannon (Christopher Walken in a solid performance), a tireless and money-hungry American mercenary, get caught spying by the president's secret police and nearly beaten to death before sent back to the States. Determined to strike back, Walken urges a few of his friends (Tom Berenger and Ed O'Neill being a few of them) to join in the mission and get the necessary weapons. Director John Irvin ("Hamburger Hill", "When Trumpets Fade") plays his cards right in saving the best stuff, which is the raid and how the scenery is displayed by veteran cinematographer Jack Cardiff is also great. The film was based on a novel by Frederick Forstyh ("The Day of the Jackal").

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Gritty and violent motion picture in the debut theatrical feature for director John Irvin.

Author: ma-cortes from Santander Spain
26 August 2013

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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