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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's the villain
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...
Published on October 5, 2005 by sand-da-man

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cry havoc...
The Dogs of War is part of that subgenre of war movies that briefly blossomed in the late-sixties and seventies but found little favor in subsequent years, the story about the ageing mercenary who suffers a crisis of conscience (Dark of the Sun, The Wild Geese, Savior etc). It was also the last significant attempt to turn Christopher Walken into a mainstream leading man...
Published on February 16, 2008 by Trevor Willsmer


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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's the villain, October 5, 2005
This review is from: The Dogs of War (DVD)
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. Walken's performance is compelling, bolstered by an excellent supporting cast (including an unexpectedly good showing from Tom Berenger). Fine direction of graphic action scenes ensures that the tempo does not drag, but balanced against that is insightful and sensitive dialogue. It thus succeeds at several levels and, while disturbing in tone, still makes for great entertainment.
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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
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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
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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
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David Baldwin (Philadelphia,PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dogs of War (DVD)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific action adventure film about mercenaries in Africa., October 27, 1999
By A Customer
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
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dogs of War (DVD)
"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. During recruitment and planning, Jamie finds himself beginning to question the motives of his employer and rediscovering some values of his own. Jamie Shannon is a ruthless and efficient hired gun, but he begins to see that what he has spent his life becoming may not be want he wants, after all. The movie ends with a nice, violent twist. Although satisfying, we're still left uncertain if Jamie will be able to break out of his way of life.

I thought this movie kept things moving very well, even during the obligatory development of Shannon's back story and the time spent establishing his relationship with his ex-wife. Christopher Walken, looking very young, carries off the role with style and feeling. He has already perfected that slightly off-kilter stare, plus he's a fine actor. Tom Berenger plays his buddy, Drew, whom Shannon recruits to be his second in command. Nice jobs are turned in by Hugh Millais, who plays the multi-national corporation's amoral, can-do representative, and by Winston Ntshona as Dr. Okoye, a prisoner Shannon encounters in the Zangora prison after he's caught during his first visit. It's a small part, but the role is a major pivot point for the movie.

On balance, I think this is a very good adventure movie with a cynical edge and a fine Walken performance. The DVD picture looks just fine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cry Havoc and Buy `The Dogs of War', July 17, 2007
By 
C. Chow (Leesburg VA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dogs of War (DVD)
`The Dogs of War' is a cold warrior classic forgotten.

I still remember the frightening sight of the VHS cover, a painting of Walken's frightening face gripping a revolving grenade launcher, greeting me at the video store. I never saw it, always assuming it was merely Vietnam War backwash resulting from `The Deer Hunter.' I was completely wrong, sand deeply regret missing `The Dogs of War' all these years.

Based on Fredrick Forsyth's best selling cold warrior novel of the same title, `The Dogs of War' focus on a single great raid battle with wide reaching elements of drama. Mercenary Shannon (Christopher Walken) is hired by British industrialists to overthrow a stereotypical African dictatorship. 75% percent of the film involves the planning of a single great victory. The planning is filled with excitement as Walken and co mercenaries, including Tom Berenger and Ed O'Neal scavenge Europe of equipment. Their arsenal includes Uzis, rocket launchers, claymores, and new unique on unforgettable revolving grenade launchers. An advanced weapon still only now 27 years later making it to the battlefield.

The climactic battle is one of the most memorable blitzkriegs in movie history.

Christopher Walken's performance takes us back to when his frightening face and demeanor were used for fear, not comedy. Yes, some comedians like Walken and Leslie Nielson started out as action heroes.

`The Dogs of War' effectively combines Walken's acting, cold warrior cloak and dagger, and all out modern action.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Footage Restored, November 21, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dogs of War (DVD)
I was suprised to find that the VHS edition was missing over 10 minutes of footage, which is restored in the DVD edition. The restored footage serves to fill some gaps in the VHS edition storyline.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE DEFINITIVE MERCENARY FILM, August 26, 1999
By A Customer
This film is one of the best. It is unique in demonstrating, that for those directly involved in this sort of thing, money is secondary. Justice is paramount. Neo-Nazis need not apply.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still good after twenty some years, January 2, 2002
This review is from: The Dogs of War (DVD)
Can only add to the other accolades. Whooped it up when I spotted the 'guide' in the bird-watching sequence as the same actor (Christopher Asante aka Gyearbuor Asante) playing the parish minister in "Local Hero" (what a change in roles) and that a much younger and thinner Jim Broadbent of "Topsy-Turvy" and "Moulin Rouge" has a negligible part as a cameraman. You'll also see Paul Freeman, George Harris, and Eddie Tagoe in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" made the same year. A good shoot'em up and the price is right. What a pity that the lovely Maggie Scott apparently never graced other films!
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The Dogs of War
The Dogs of War by John Irvin (DVD - 2001)
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