The Dogs of War
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The Dogs of War

UK:118 min | USA:102 min | USA:104 min (TCM print) | Finland:114 min (cut) (1988) (video release) | Finland:105 min (cut) (1981) (cinema release)
Action | Adventure | Drama | War
IMDB rate:
John Irvin
Country: UK
Release Date: 1981-02-13
Filming Locations: Belize City, Belize
Tom Berenger
Tom Berenger
The Dogs of War
Christopher Walken
Jamie Shannon
Colin Blakely
Hugh Millais
Paul Freeman
Jean-François Stévenin
Michel (as Jean François Stevenin)
JoBeth Williams
Robert Urquhart
Capt. Lockhart
Winston Ntshona
Dr. Okoye
Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
The Captain (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Harlan Cary Poe
Ed O'Neill
Isabel Grandin
Ernest Graves
Kelvin Thomas
The Black Boy
Shane Rimmer
Dr. Oaks
Joseph Konrad
Priest (as Father Joseph Konrad)
Bruce McLane
Shop Manager
George Harris
Col. Bobi (as George W. Harris)
David Schofield
Endean's Man
Terence Rigby
Tony Mathews
Bank Vice President
John Quentin
Party Guest
Jean-Pierre Kalfon
Benny Lambert
Christopher Malcolm
Jack Lenoir
André Penvern
Policeman (as Andre Penvern)
Lawrence Davidson
Martin LaSalle
Customs Officer (as Martin La Salle)
Maggie Scott
Hugh Quarshie
Zangaron Officer
Olu Jacobs
Customs Officer
Gyearbuor Asante
Geoffrey (as Christopher Asante)
Thomas Baptiste
Eddie Tagoe
Kenny Ireland
Film Crew
Jim Broadbent
Film Crew
André Toffel
Priest (as Andre Toffel)
Diana Bracho
Ilario Bisi-Pedro
Kimba (as Ilarrio Bisi Pedro)
Joanne Flanagan
Robert Berger
Poker Player
William Cain
Poker Player (as William B. Cain)
Russell T. Carr
Poker Player
José Rabelo
Hotel Clerk (as Jose Rabelo)
Victoria Tennant
Dinner Party Guest
Erica Creer
Dinner Party Guest
Sheila Ruskin
Dinner Party Guest
Alan Beckwith
Mercenary (uncredited)
David Mandel
Long Shoreman (uncredited)
Ángel Ramírez
Beggar (uncredited)
Did you know?
This movie was originally going to be directed by Norman Jewison.
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The song that plays over the end credits is the poem Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries by A.E. Housman, set to music.
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African and Central America sequences were filmed in Belize City, Belize in Central America.
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When Shannon meets with Endean and Bobi, in subsequent shots his necktie moves from the left to right side of his shirt.
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The scene at the railway station is set at London's Liverpool Street, made obvious by the Great Eastern Hotel prominently in the background. However, the station announcement says the train is for Rugby, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Sheffield. Trains do not go from Liverpool Street station to these destinations and did not at the time the film was set. A likelier station for such departure would have been St Pancras.
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The original Manville Gun was designed in 1935 by Charles Manville as a 12gauge multi-barrel shotgun (24 shot capacity). However, the XM-18 in DOW is based on an updated 1936 design as a 25mm grenade launcher with an 18 shot capacity (hence the "18" in XM-18). The movie version was still considerably more powerful than WWII era 25mm grenades were capable of. Unable to interest the military in his design, Manville's company stopped making the weapon. Ironically, in the early 1980's, the movie Dogs of War served to generate some interest from the military. Utilizing updated manufacturing processes and materials, the XM-18 type grenade launcher has actually seen some military service as a 25mm (18 shot) or 40mm (12 shot) grenade launcher. It is used by US Special Forces as well as some South American and African countries. With a range of between 150-350 meters, and with modern explosive technology, the 25mm grenade is fully capable of causing as much or more damage as was portrayed in the film. The 40mm grenade version uses the same projectile as is used in the Mk 19 grenade launcher which is widely used in the US Army. The current manufacturer is the Hawk Engineering Company who makes it under the designation MM-1.
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Endean: Shannon, get him out of here! This whole country's bought and paid for!
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Shannon: In my jungle, you'd be just another asshole.
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Shannon: [to the other mercenaries] Remember; you have to make it home to get paid.
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What military units do the mercenaries belong to?
Derek's sand coloured beret with a winged dagger badge denotes him as a member of the British Special Air Service (SAS). He is thought to be loosely based on John Peters, a former SAS soldier who served as a mercenary with 'Mad' Mike Hoare during his campaign in the Congo in the 1960s. Michel is a member of the French Foreign Legion parachute regiment, he is thought to be loosely based on famous French mercenary Bob Denard. It is unclear what Shannon and Drew's parent units were or if they were inspired by real life figures.
Is any of this based on real events?
-Famous British mercenary 'Mad' Mike Hoare's attempted coup in the Seychelles strongly resembles the events in the 'Dogs of War'. Bob Denard's attempted coup in Benin is also similar. More remarkable is that it appears to have inspired an attempted coup by former Scots Guards and SAS soldier Simon Mann who led a force of South African mercenaries to overthrow of the dictatorship of oil rich Equatorial Guinea.
What weapons do the mercenaries use?
-In the opening scene in South America the team use CAR-15s, the carbine version of the US Army's M16 assault rifle. In Africa the mercenary force use Israeli Uzi 9mm submachineguns although a few of their troops also employ MAC-10 Ingrams. The also make good use of 66mm LAW (Light Anti-tank Weapon) rockets and Claymore mines whilst Derek seizes an M60 machinegun from the goverment troops and turns it against them. The iconic multi-shot grenade launcher they use is the XM-18
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Photos from cast
Tom Berenger