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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 (102 customer reviews)

Price: $39.49 & FREE Shipping. Details
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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 (102 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005O06P
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,360 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Dogs of War" on IMDb

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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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 50 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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20 of 20 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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16 of 17 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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27 of 31 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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11 of 11 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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22 of 26 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 ' but he was much better in the much earlier 'Anderson Tapes' and the...
Fans of Chris Walken will watch it just for the CW swagger (which is in abundance) but, even for early Walken performances, it's just ok. Read more
Published 5 days ago by DAH
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good movie
Published 6 days ago by Robert D Hall
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad story. Some parts defy credulity but overall
Was Christopher Walken ever this young?
Not a bad story. Some parts defy credulity but overall, it is an action picture with lots of things being blown up.
Published 8 days ago by RBK2
3.0 out of 5 stars Warriors 70's Style
Not your typical Hollywood war movie. Kind of neat to see this as a 70's period piece. Funny how the physical attributes of a warrior have changed over the years. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Ronald H. Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars Great old school mercenary movie
Great old school mercenary movie, like The Wild Geese. Christopher Walken is really good here as the lead mercenary Shannon and the rest of the cast do a good job with their roles... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Peter Trem
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent flick!
It is a decent movie and worth watching on a rainy day. Christopher Walken strikes me as one of those actors that often portrays a character that is easy to dislike. Read more
Published 11 days ago by JNMNR
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 11 days ago by joe vazquez
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Not as good as the book, but a decent movie. It is a little dated.
Published 11 days ago by michael h smith
4.0 out of 5 stars action flick
very good action movie taken from a true story. very good actor with chris walken good plot. well planned out stragerty
Published 20 days ago by nancy viscariello
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent from novel to silver screen adaptation
Classic Christopher Walken movie. Excellent from novel to silver screen adaptation.
Published 21 days ago by Mr RTGARCIA
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