6.3/10
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69 user 47 critic

The Dogs of War (1980)

Mercenary James Shannon, on a reconnaissance job to the African nation of Zangaro, is tortured and deported. He returns to lead a coup.

Director:

John Irvin

Writers:

Gary DeVore (screenplay), George Malko (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Walken ... Jamie Shannon
Tom Berenger ... Drew
Colin Blakely ... North
Hugh Millais Hugh Millais ... Endean
Paul Freeman ... Derek
Jean-François Stévenin Jean-François Stévenin ... Michel (as Jean François Stevenin)
JoBeth Williams ... Jessie
Robert Urquhart Robert Urquhart ... Capt. Lockhart
Winston Ntshona ... Dr. Okoye
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. ... The Captain (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Harlan Cary Poe Harlan Cary Poe ... Richard
Ed O'Neill ... Terry
Isabel Grandin Isabel Grandin ... Evelyn
Ernest Graves Ernest Graves ... Warner
Kelvin Thomas 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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The toast given by the French member of the mercenary group is "Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive le sacre mercenaire." ("Long live death, long live war, long live the cursed mercenary.") This is an adaptation of the original French Foreign Legion (in French, "Légion Etrangère") toast, "Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive la Légion Etrangère", which makes a lot more sense. 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

Shannon: Anything that starts with "d" I didn't get yet?
Dr. Oaks: Yeah... DEAD!
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are several versions of this movie. In the UK a 118 min version was released, in the USA a version of 102 minutes. There are versions released in some countries that have a length in between those two. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Heaven's Gate: Part 2 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Perhaps A Difficult Novel To Adapt For Cinema
25 January 2005 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 February 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dogs of War See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$5,484,132

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,484,132
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Juniper Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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