- Movie Rating -

Dogs of War (1981)

| February 13, 1981

I guess I didn’t know what to expect.  Dogs of War seemed to come packaged as one of those dumbbell military action pictures like The Wild Geese, but the lead is played by Christopher Walking, so I guess I expected something along the lines of The Deer Hunter.  To my surprise, the movie seems to want to be both and that’s not good. 

Walkin plays Jamie Shannon, a mercenary soldier for hire who is willing to start a revolution or a coup for the right price.  His most recent assignment comes from a British mining interest, who want him to scout out the tiny country of Zangaro that has valuable deposits of rich minerals but is under the thumb of a cruel dictator – the plan is to stage a coup and replace the leader with someone more manageable.  Shannon is captured and tortured.  Once released he is brought back to London and offered a chance to invade Zangaro leading the proposed military coup.

The plot here is open to all manner of ethical issues.  Does a superpower government have the right to take over a tiny country in order to get something that it wants, even if that country is being run by a dictator?  And what do men like Jamie Shannon have to gain from this?  What goes on in their minds as they plot revolutions and coups for profit?

I wish I could say because Dogs of War is a provocative film that never quite gets to the heart of those questions.  The screenplay, based on a book by Fredrick Forsyth, ebbs somewhere between ethical questions and massive action scenes.  The problem is that the film’s third act doesn’t challenge.  It goes for loud explosions and scenes of men hurling grenades.  All of this is, perhaps, given to the expectation of the audience that this kind of movie doesn’t exist without overblown action scenes.  That’s too bad because the movie raises a lot of issues that no one clearly wants to deal with.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized