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 Re... more »porter). 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?« less
Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY Reviewed on 9/9/2009...
WEre Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger ever so young? We liked this movie very much and plan to watch it again.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Who's the villain
sand-da-man | Chicago, IL United States | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film stands out because, unlike most action movies, the plot 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'etat 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 several similar assaults, Walken's character is contacted to organize and implement the project. For him, it should be just another assignment, but this one is different. We see a grizzled, jaded soldier of fortune who is well-trained and honed for the task, but who is nonetheless hoping that this particular job may be his last, providing just enough of a pay-off to enable him to leave the life and pursue a more normal existence. Through the course of events, we therefore get not only a story of conflict but one that is personal 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 this genre. Walken's performance is compelling, bolstered by an excellent supporting cast(including an unexpectedly good showing from Tom Berenger). Fine direction of vivid action scenes ensures that the tempo does not drag, but balanced against that is suprisingly cutting, insightful and sensitive dialogue. This film thus succeeds at several levels and, while disturbing in tone, still makes for great entertainment."
Well Crafted Mercenary Tale
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 10/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Violent, Cynical And Well Done
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 06/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""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."
Terrific action adventure film about mercenaries in Africa.
David Baldwin | 10/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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?"