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The Dogs of War (1981)

Christopher Walken , Tom Berenger , John Irvin  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

Price: $28.54 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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The Dogs of War + The Wild Geese (30th Anniversary Edition) + Go Tell the Spartans
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Product Details

  • Actors: Christopher Walken, Tom Berenger, Colin Blakely, Hugh Millais, Paul Freeman
  • Directors: John Irvin
  • Writers: Frederick Forsyth, Gary DeVore, George Malko
  • Producers: Larry DeWaay, Norman Jewison, Patrick J. Palmer
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005O06P
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,856 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Dogs of War" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Academy AwardÂ(r) winner* Christopher Walken (Pulp Fiction) is a brutal mercenary who must fight the ultimate battleagainst his own consciencein this powerful action thriller with a "heart-thumping tempo" (The Hollywood Reporter). The Dogs Of War is a spectacular adventure that brilliantly captures the gloryand horrorof war. Jamie Shannon (Walken) is a cynical warrior-for-hire who feels truly alive only in the heat of battle, and now he's aboutto take on the most challenging assignment of his career: to invade a corrupt African dictatorship and shift control to the "puppet" of a powerful British corporation. To prepare, Shannon masterfullytrains and equips a squad of deadly mercenaries with the latest and most destructive tactics and military hardware. But as their explosive assault begins, Shannon finds himself embroiled in an internal conflict of his own: Will this be his greatest triumph or has he sold his soul along with his battle expertise?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's the villain October 5, 2005
This film stands out because, unlike most action movies, the story drives it. It's a portrayal of the life of mercenaries, pawns in the larger global game of power and profits, seen through the experiences of the character played by Christopher Walken. Its specific focus is a coup d'état in Africa that must be executed by a clandestine force, necessarily commissioned outside the official channels of government. From its earliest stages, all aspects of the mission are rife with mortal danger, a typical reflection of the political forces vying to maintain their own interests. A veteran of similar assaults, Walken's character is contacted to organize and implement the project. It could be just another assignment for him, but this one is different; his most recent experience has left him disillusioned. He is still the grizzled, jaded soldier of fortune who is well-honed for task, but he's now hoping perhaps that this particular job may be his last. We therefore get not only a story of military conflict but one of a personal struggle as well.
The other film's strengths are its aversion to stereotypes and straw men. This is not the stuff of Chuck Norris or Sylvester Stallone. We are not subjected to distorted combat scenes where the hero wins the battle with one hand and the enemy is a stupid, sub-human dreg. Rather, we get a sense of the uncertainty of survival, of the brutal reality of life and death under unusual and exceptional circumstances. Within that context, the lines between good and evil, hero and villain, are blurred. Questions concerning loyalty and principle are posed. Who, in fact, is right? Who should win- and does it matter? Can the employer be trusted or even the other men in the unit?
This is as good a movie as there is in the genre.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A war-movie without heroism or melodrama. February 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This must be one of the most unique movies ever made. Nearly every movie portraying war ends up as being either too melodramatic, using metaphores all over the place ( like Full Metal Jacket ) Or it becomes a hero piece. Dogs of War does neither. Forsyth's rather slow-moving story about a group of mercenaries fighting a private war on behalve of a mining company has been juiced up and stripped of the unnecessary parts. This has resulted in a suspenceful story, that keeps the audience in its grip from beginning to end. With good acting from Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger and excellent directing by John Irving Dogs of War gives an unglamorous and realistic image of war.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Film on Mercenaries December 11, 1999
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Well done film on four mercenaries hired by a corporation to overthrow the brutal dictator of a small African nation. Christopher Walken, the mercenary commander, plays the role very well. The film follows him and his merc partners on their escape from a fallen Central American nation, to their assault in Africa. Walken's character conducts a dangerous reconnaissance in the African country before the assault, barely escaping with his life. The film slows down a bit after the reconnaissance when Walken wants to retire from his profession and settle down, causing viewers to become impatient while they wait for his predictable return to launching the mission. What follows is the interesting process of the mercs planning and preparing for the mission, all while under the threat from a prying reporter, a mysterious observer, and of course the law. Eventually when they conduct their attack, the film provides an exciting battle sequence, all the way from their infiltration to the intense assault on the dictator's compound against a larger force of government soldiers. The film is realistic, brutal, and intelligent.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Crafted Mercenary Tale October 15, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a well crafted story about the otherthrowing of a brutal West African dictatorship through a mercenary run coup d'tat. The film meticulously follows the plot from the reconesance operation to the planning stages through the actual coup. Christopher Walken plays Shannon, the leader of the mercenaries. Walken does solid, but not remarkable work here but he cannot be faulted for that. The film is more concerned with the nuts and bolts of the story and not so with characterization. Shannon's personal life is dealt with perfunctorily, such as his failed marriage, but is quickly dropped. A major character dies in battle but the audience can't really feel for him because we never really got to know him. Covert ops and military hardware take precedence. Gotta love them Uzis and Gats. If you are looking for good storytelling with little or no emotional attachment to the characters this is the film for you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Three films have depicted the African mercenary: Dark of the Sun, The Wild Geese, and The Dogs of War. All are great, but Dogs is by far the most credible. The book, incidentally, is even better than the movie. This is truly Walken's best role and must have been the supporting role that gave Tom Berenger his big break in Platoon. Of course it's violent; what else do you expect from a war movie about mercs?
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Violent, Cynical And Well Done June 10, 2005
"Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war," wrote one of those old, white male Eurocentric writers a long time ago, and this movie shows how it can be done. I think it's a solid, fast-paced adventure story with a nice, jaundiced outlook and a first-rate performance by Christopher Walken.

Jamie Shannon (Walken) is a pay-for-play mercenary who has reached the point where he's just seen too much. His private life has disintegrated. His wife has divorced him, although he, in his own way, still loves her. He lives in a worn out New York apartment where he keeps a revolver in the refrigerator and the black and white TV on all the time. He's hired by a big, multinational company to check out Zangora, an African country rich in resources and ruled by a brutal but wily and slightly insane dictator. The question Jamie is asked to answer: Are the conditions ripe enough for a coup to succeed? Jamie goes there, but is caught and beaten within an inch of his life, then deported. On his return, his answer to the company is simple: A coup isn't possible; the army is corrupt and second rate, but they still are loyal to President Kimba. The company then asks Jamie: How about the chances of success for a well-financed, well supplied overthrow led by a first-class group of mercenaries, led by Jamie Shannon? After some angst involving an unsuccessful attempt to reconnect with his ex-wife, Jamie says it could work and he'll do it.

The middle of the movie shows us how to recruit our own group of mercenaries, get arms and money out of one country and into another, and then plan and carry out a meticulous and violent attack against a poorly led and larger army. And it does it with economy and a surprising amount of tension and interest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
no comment
Published 18 hours ago by Jay R
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blu Ray Dogs of War
A great performance from Christopher Walken in this Frederick Forsyth thriller. This is finally coming to Blu Ray on 9th September 2014 in a limited run (3000 Copies Only) from... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Richard Warren
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie
This is a classic that shows Tom Berenger and Christopher Walken in their early years. Not overly realistic having just a handful of guys overthrowing an African country; however,... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Durable
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Action!
Good action movie!
Published 15 days ago by Bob
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A really great movie. Good story. Action is great. and the special effects for a move made in the 80's compared to today really believable. and Christopher Walken.
Published 17 days ago by alan grenier
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Trained Killer
Can't go wrong with Christopher Walken in a military role.
Published 23 days ago by Keyman
5.0 out of 5 stars Action adventure Must-See.
Masterfully told story by Frederick Forsyth. Christopher Walken is at his best as soldier of fortune undertaking a coup-d-tete in Africa.
Published 25 days ago by Paul Stevens
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
it was a good overall show for that era, but wish it would have been more realistic.
Published 26 days ago by Earl G. Challans
3.0 out of 5 stars War dog!
It's an ok movie, not the greatest, but ok for it's time.
Published 1 month ago by Dan lee
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