Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Dogs of War (1980)

Director: John Irvin

Writers: Gary DeVore, George Malko, Frederick Forsyth

Composer: Geoffrey Burgon

Starring: Christopher Walken, Tom Berenger, Colin Blakely, Hugh Millais, Paul Freeman, Jean-Francois Stevenin, JoBeth Williams, Robert Urquhart, Winston Ntshona, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Ed O'Neill, Shane Rimmer, Jim Broadbent

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Cry 'Havoc!' And Let Slip The Dogs Of War

Plot: Mercenary James Shannon, on a reconnaissance job to the African nation of Zangaro, is tortured and deported. He returns to lead a coup.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

The only other time I saw this was probably a dozen years ago.  I didn't care for it but it felt like that I should have.  So I thought perhaps I had an off night.  Now that I've seen it again (and for the last time), I was right not to like it then. It's a long film at two hours made longer by spending too much time with Jamie (Walken) and his ex-wife and a lot of the setup to the last hour which begins his recruiting, planning and execution of the raid that closes the picture.  The pacing is pretty slow.  What's more, for as much as I like Walken, he wasn't the right actor for the job.  He feels like he needed more experience to pull off this character.  Jamie could have used more depth.  With a more experienced actor that role could have conveyed a lot more than what took up so much screen time to make up for it...if that makes any sense.  The supporting cast does a fine job and it's great to see a few faces that turn up a year later in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) like Paul "Belloq" Freeman, George "Katanga" Harris and Eddie Tagoe who played Katanga's right hand man aboard the ship.  For fans of RAIDERS this goes a long way in helping get through this picture.  Geoffrey Burgon's powerful theme is great but the score seems too sparse, especially at the end during the battle.  Normally I'm cool with not having music during big action scenes like this but not so in this picture.  There's nothing fun, exciting or compelling about it.  It's just a bunch of explosions and guys killin' other dudes. Talk about anticlimactic.  I'm probably being generous by giving it a 6 out of 10 but there are a lot of actors I dig in it.  It's a shame it's so mediocre. The MGM DVD has a good widescreen print with the sole extra being the theatrical trailer (also in anamorphic widescreen).

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