6.3/10
7,204
64 user 42 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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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 February 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cães de Guerra 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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tom Berenger once nicknamed the XM18 grenade launcher weapon as "The Mean Machine". See more »

Goofs

When the team is discussing the weapons they will need for their attack, Shannon mentions their requirement for "9 Millimeter Quad" ammunition. "Quad" version of 9mm ammunition goes back to the development of a special 9mm Load by Speer ammunition Co. called the, "9mm +P Gold Dot JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) 124 Gr". Which has a muzzle velocity of 400 Meters per second (1,300 Ft/s). It received its Nickname "9mm Quad", from its Major Parameter: (9mm @ 400 m/s). 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 »

Alternate Versions

Although the cinema version was uncut the 1986 UK video was cut by 5 secs by the BBFC to remove shots of broken glass being forced into the mouth of Endean's man before being beaten up by Shannon. The 2001 MGM DVD restored the film to its original 119 minute UK length, which had additional character development, including an early scene of Shannon attending the baptism of a fellow mercenary's child, a bed scene between Shannon and Jessie, a scene of the raiding party being delayed by a closed drawbridge, Shannon pressuring Hackett to deliver the Valencia shipment, and extensive footage between Shannon and Lockhart where the latter persuades Spanish officials to allow the cargo on to the boat. See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Gritty and violent motion picture in the debut theatrical feature for director John Irvin.
26 August 2013 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

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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