A hugely entertaining, Dirty Dozen-style combat film about a group of Asian American ex-con GIs, dropped into postpullout Vietnam to destroy a cache of weapons the Yanks forgetfully left behind. ("Why are foreigners so stu... more »pid?" wonders a puzzled Chinese officer.) Director-star Sammo Hung slimmed down to play the tough-as-nails platoon commander and turned in a world-class action-star performance, charismatic and tightly focused. As a director Hung displays great sweep and inventiveness in the staging of action; there are combinations of martial arts stunt work and camera angles here that are like nothing you've ever seen before. The fighters practically leap into your lap. The movie is basically crisp hard-boiled entertainment, but it also gets into the tensions between the various Asian nationalities involved in the mission--native Chinese, Chinese American, Vietnamese, Cambodian--and into everybody's mixed feelings about the U.S. --David Chute« less
"As mentioned already, this film is loosely based on the classic American war film The Dirty Dozen, except there's only 10 (i think) individuals and it's a half martial arts (MA), half war movie. Sammo actually lost a lot of weight for this role and he and Yuen Biao were just awesome in this movie. The story is simple, the best prison inmates are given a chance to earn money and freedom should they accomplish a secret mission. They will not know anything about their mission or where they are going until they are at the goal. Sammo is one of the inmates alongside director Yuen Kwai and choreographer Yuen Wo Ping. The latter 2 provide some comedy to the film. The Dirty Pack soon realize that they're in Vietnam to destroy nuclear weapons that the Viet Cong have yet to know about. The premise here is if the Viet Cong find out about it, they'll use it. The rest of the film displays some really cool acrobatic warfare tactics. There is also shooting involved as expected in a war film. Yuen Biao and Sammo showcase some very awesome moves; I'm talking wicked and fast attacks. I must mention that this is the kind of film that builds up to be better; the beginning is not all that impressive, but later on into the movie is great MA. The end fight is as should be the best...wow and ouch...This must be seen because some of the greatest fighters are here doing some great stuff. Yuen Wah is the leader of the Viet Cong platoon out to get the Dirty Pack, and he shows some of his awesome kicking abilities, this guy is so agile and fast. The well known Thai-boxer Billy Chow (the superpowerful general from Fist of Legend) also has a part as once again a bad guy. He has an extremely brutal fight with Sammo that'll make you cringe. Chow and Wah are very highly overlooked. Biao does some crazy moves in the final fight as well...this just has to be seen...this last fight alone surpasses the worth of purchase. I only have 2 complaints: I wanted to see more, the fights here are all classic and awesome, but short. One hard hit and it was over...don't get me wrong, this looks very realistic, but I just wanted to see more of it. Also, Lam Ching Ying did not do any MA at all, and this guy is [amazing], you gotta see him in Prodigal Son. All in all, a very rare and classic HK martial arts/war film. The best version of dvd comes from the Hong Kong Legends distributors. You'll need an all-region dvd player to play their region 2 PAL dvds though, but they are known for remastering video and sound and providing awesome extras in their rereleased HK films. If you can't have the privelege of the dvd player, then stick with the Fox version above because the DTS track rocks. At least check this film out if you don't intend to buy, it's one of a kind. Check out my other MA reviews too, thanks for reading."
Entertaining Hong Kong war movie in a sparkling DVD edition
Brian Camp | Bronx, NY | 01/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While it's not flawless, this Fox DVD edition of EASTERN CONDORS is clearly the best we've ever seen of this 1987 Hong Kong action classic. Sammo Hung, the star and director, had graduated from old school kung fu films to contemporary stunt-filled action comedies with his Peking Opera classmates, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, and then a new direction (minus Jackie) with his all-star action comedy, MILLIONAIRES' EXPRESS in 1986. EASTERN CONDORS borrows liberally from THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967) and THE DEER HUNTER (1978), while injecting massive doses of kung fu, acrobatics, gunfire, black humor and tragedy into its tale of Asian and Asian-American military prisoners ("the Condors") sent on a dangerous mission into Vietnam in 1976, a year after the American withdrawal.
The Condors' mission in Vietnam is to find and destroy an underground cache of American weapons to keep it out of Vietnamese hands. When they get to Vietnam they hook up with a trio of female Cambodian guerrillas (led by fighting femme Joyce Godenzi) who act as guides, but have an ulterior motive of their own. The group also picks up a local Cantonese-speaking black market dealer who's expert in kung fu (Yuen Biao). Thanks to a spy in the group, the Vietnamese army follows the Condors' every move.
The nonstop action is quite cleverly staged, although some of it is a bit far-fetched. The characters and their relationships are generally quite interesting and we tend to feel sadness and grief when a member of the group dies (or is seriously wounded or maimed). Partly filmed in Canada, with outdoors action shot in the Philippines, the film offers a spectacular climax staged in an underground weapons complex designed and built to resemble the sets Ken Adam built for so many James Bond films.
The film's expert cinematography is finally given a transfer that allows us to appreciate it in widescreen with 16:9 enhancement. However, both the English-dubbed and Cantonese language tracks are slightly but noticeably out of sync. The English dub is pretty awful. The subtitles for the Cantonese track are not the original ones we saw in earlier editions of the film. They're "dub-titles," transcriptions of the English dub dialogue which is far less interesting and dramatic than accurate translations of the original dialogue. So don't discard your earlier copies. "
Sammo did it again as usual!! *S*
Dragon Man X | 12/03/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"well, another great sammo flick!!! i think you'll love this hong kong remake of the dirty dozen, its filled with a great cast including yuen biao, yuen wah, and joyce godenzi!!! the gun battles are great and watch for the scene in the vietnam jungle when sammo and yuen biao take out a platoon of men one at a time, the last 10 minutes are classic with yuen biao facing yuen wah, and sammo facing billy chow, and then sammo facing yuen wah!! a great classic movie in its own right!!! order this one!!!! if not its your own loss!!! *L*"
Exellent martial arts, acting and plot.
phyed-rautha | 05/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story of a few chinese fellows that the american goverment releases from prison in order to send them to a cetain-death mission in vietnam due to mistake in retreat from there. Samo hung, Yuen biao and yuen wah give wonderfull fightscenes,in a true Hong kong matial arts\action clasic."
A Good Asian War Movie
Grigoriy Shevchenko | Las Vegas, NV United States | 11/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If looking from the war side, I'd say go and rent Bullet in the Head (a great war movie by John Woo). But if you want to see good fight scenes, this movie is for you. One of Hung's best works, includes great appearances from Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, and Dr. Haing S. Ngor. However, I still don't understand why Joyce Godenzi was in it. I bet because she was Hung's girlfriend. Anyway, I think that the usual version is cut short because, after seeing an Asian preview, I noticed that there are supposedly more scenes in the American prison. But despite all of these negative factors, the movie is just great to watch. If you are a true fan of Asian cinema, you won't be dissapointed."