The Dogs of War

MGM Released 1981


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Movie Summary

John Irvin
The Dogs of War is a 1980 United Artists war film based on the novel of the same name by Frederick Forsyth, written in 1974. Directed by John Irvin and starring Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger, the film depicts the efforts of mercenaries Jamie Shannon (Christopher Walken) and Drew Blakely (Tom Berenger) to stage a coup in the fictional Republic of Zangaro on behalf of a British tycoon who seeks to gain access to large deposits of platinum in the country. Jamie Shannon returns home after fleeing a war-torn country in Central America with five fellow mercenaries. Here he is approached by shady British businessman Roy Endean (Hugh Millais), who pays him to go on a reconnaissance mission to Zangaro. He meets a documentary filmmaker named North (Colin Blakely), and learns more about Zangaro's corrupt military dictatorship led by President Kimba. After Shannon is arrested and badly beaten by the country's security forces, he is soon ready to seek revenge.


Metacritic Score

  • 80

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    It demonstrates the kind of intelligence and thought one doesn't often find in a movie aimed at the action-adventure crowd. This is evident as much in what the film doesn't do and ...

  • 50

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Rick Groen

    Dogs of War takes its title from Julius Caesar but its cue from Julia Child. Based on Frederick Forsyth's novel, the film is meant to be an intimate study of soldiers of fortune. B...

  • 50

    Time Out

    Ten out of ten to Colin Blakely for his cameo (as an itinerant o'booze), but otherwise this is just another weary hack job from a rootless British film industry in decline.

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Military & War