Eastern Condors

Sammo Hung's interesting homage to the war film, The Dirty Dozen. It has some terrific action scenes and a couple of great performances, but unfortunately the characters of most of the crew were not developed in the least bit so that when they start to finally bite the dust one by one you don't really care very much. The characters are not only underdeveloped, but often very silly and bogged down with some dreadful dialogue. These were the weak points of the film to me. But, there were some very strong action bits on which the reputation of this film rests.

The time is 1975 and the USA has withdrawn from Vietnam, but left behind a huge cache of weapons hidden in the countryside. So a select group of Asian-American prisoners are chosen to go into Vietnam and blow up the armaments. They are parachuted in country and fight their way across Vietnam to their destination. Along the way there are some great moments and terrific performances from Sammo (looking pretty lean and very tough) , Yuen Biao as a slightly loony Vietnamese peddlerSammo and Yuen meet that joins up with the group and Joyce Godenza as a fierce Cambodian guerilla helping the crew. Also showing up is Lam Ching-Ying (Mr. Vampire) as the group commander and in one of the strangest casting decisions the great Dr. Haing Ngor (The Killing Fields) as the crazy Vietnamese.

The scene of Joyce coming out of the water Joyce Godenza - current Mrs Sammoto attack the gunboat and killing them all with a knife is a classic. The look on her face is unforgettable. Another great scene is Sammo and Yuen silently killing an entire platoon in the jungle with various methods (my favorite being the lethal projected leaves from Sammo!). There is a lot of gunplay throughout, but in the finale everyone conveniently runs out of ammunition and we get Sammo, Yuen and Joyce facing off against Yuen Wah (for some reason playing a Vietnamese commander as fey as possible)Don't make fun of his fan - Yuen Wah, Dick Wei and Billy Chow. Some incredible acrobatics from Yuen that never fail to amaze me. Godenza who has since become Sammo's wife says very little in the film, but burns with intensity and made me a fan of hers.

Some weaknesses in this film, but it grows more on me every time I see it and it is worthwhile for many classic moments. And I didn't even mention the decapitated hand, which is a shock to the system. Needless to say not too many of them survive.

My rating for this film: 8.5

 Click for wedding picture of Sammo and Joyce Godenza