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Blu-ray Review The Dogs of War Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Matt Hough
The Dogs of War Blu-ray Review

A slightly above average mercenary caper film based on an international best seller, John Irvin’s The Dogs of War seems very old school when compared to the bombastic action films of today (The Expendables anyone?), but even with the overlong reconnaissance and mission planning exposition, the final payoff is worth it for action fans. More attention to character development, however, would have enhanced the film’s ability to do more than just get the adrenaline flowing.

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Studio: MGM

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Not Rated, R

Run Time: 1 Hr. 44 Min./ 1 Hr. 59 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

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Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: All

Release Date: 09/09/2014

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 3/5

Mercenary Jamie Shannon (Christopher Walken) is paid $15,000 to find out what he can about the newly formed African state of Zangaro. His reconnaissance identifies it as a military state lorded over by a tyrannical dictator with a God complex, and he barely gets out of the country with his life. After failing to reconnect with his ex-wife (JoBeth Williams) and leave the mercenary life for good, he’s offered and accepts the mission with his team to capture and kill dictator Kimba by businessman Endean (Hugh Millais), working for a large mining company wanting to move into the African country to mine it for platinum by setting up their own puppet dictator. The planning and execution of the mission covers the film’s second half.Gary DeVore and George Malko’s screenplay doesn’t spend much time at all allowing us to get to know much about the members of Shannon’s team or clue us in on the details of the mission (in this regard, martial caper movies like The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare have it all over this film). We do see some of Shannon’s at home existence and the brief sequence with his ex-wife where they clearly have sexual chemistry but no philosophical understanding, but the other team members are basically there to do his bidding without much personality established for any of them (thus, very little rooting interest or sense of loss when the inevitable casualties occur). The reconnaissance scenes that establish the corrupt state of affairs in Zangaro (bribery, open theft, no legal recourse to search and seizure, near-lethal beatings, and the state’s sad economic condition) make the strongest impression and are actually more engrossing in some ways than the climactic firefight to oust the dictator or the surprise twist Shannon has waiting for his employers. That last quarter of the movie with the actual takeover mission in progress is quite a pyrotechnic display (the film begins with Shannon’s team escaping at the last minute from a tense situation in Central America with more fireworks on display) even if the mission hasn’t been mapped out to our complete satisfaction or understanding.Christopher Walken was hot off of his Oscar win for The Deer Hunter, but he’s not the first person one would think of in casting a tough mercenary for this kind of combat picture. He seems often slight of frame and not especially keen with surveillance (though he spots a reporter following him, another spy who’s been trailing him for two days is only discovered due to a traffic accident). Colin Blakely plays a reporter whom Shannon meets in Zangaro, and he shows a lot more vivacity in all of his scenes. Tom Berenger plays Drew, Shannon’s right hand man, who seems to love his work above all else. Hugh Millais is effective as the duplicitous businessman Endean, and Winston Ntshona is quietly powerful as the African intellectual who was pushed aside as President of Zangaro in favor of the despotic Kimba. JoBeth Williams does what she can with the underwritten role of Jessie.


Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Generally sharp with long shots occasionally a bit soft, the transfer’s main problem is with dust specks and debris which appear fairly regularly throughout the presentation. In darker scenes during the mission, the grain levels go way up, and the film takes on a slightly digital appearance. Otherwise, however, color is solid with reasonably natural skin tones and better than decent black levels. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track is present for both the international and the American theatrical releases. The international track is by far the stronger with solid dialogue in the center channel, and music and sound effects offering decent separation into the available speakers. The American theatrical sound mix offers much more subdued dialogue: soft and unfocused within the mix.


Special Features Rating: 2.5/5

International Theatrical Cut: is available from the main menu and extends scenes in important ways making it the preferable cut of the movie.Isolated Score Track: Geoffrey Burgon’s score is offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2,0 stereo.Theatrical Trailer (2:37, SD)MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (2:06, HD)Six-Page Booklet: contains a nice selection of color stills from the film, theatrical poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s enthusiastic essay on the movie.


Overall Rating: 3/5

The Dogs of War is an old-fashioned mercenary mission movie presented in its best ever home video release on this Blu-ray disc. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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