Eastern Condors (1986) Eastern Condors

Eastern Condors Director: Samo Hung
Starring: Samo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah


As I've seen this movie a couple of times already I'll just give a brief summary of the plot. The story is familiar to anyone who has seen the movie the Dirty Dozen as it involves prisoners being sent on a secret mission to destroy a cache of weapons (including "Samo" bombs), although this time it involves destroying a US arms cache in Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1976.

What I like about this movie is that even though it has all the usual plot devices in a Vietnam war movie, it doesn't take itself too seriously. One of the best things about this film is the characters including the 'flash as a rat with a gold tooth' salesman played by Yuen Biao (whose fringe keeps getting in his eyes) and the pasty General (Yuen Wah), who has a silly laugh and wears a suit.

The Cambodian guerrillas are also well played and have some great lines (the woman with the plaits is Samo Hung's wife that he met during this film.) Even though you would expect their characters to be killed off fairly quickly, they get to show their stuff in some great action scenes and get some great lines.

For trivia buffs, this movie contains one of the only on-screen appearances of Yeun Woo-Ping (martial arts choreographer in the Matrix movies.) He plays the stuttering member of the team who has trouble counting down during the parachute jump.

What makes this movie really great is the chance to see Yuen Biao and Samo Hung working together at the peak of their abilities. Outside of a few Jackie Chan movies, this is very rare to see.

There are also many inventive action sequences, such as when Samo Hung's character kills soldiers in the jungle with weapons improvised from the environment.

Some things in this movie can't really be taken that seriously however. The 'mad' performance of the MIA soldier is a bit over the top and seeing Samo bounce his way to an enemy machine gun position (with sound effects) is very strange.

I thought the final fight in the weapons bunker was really great though. The General turns out to be a really good fighter who is more than a match for our heroes and each of the characters must make their final stand.

The 'Goddamn America.' quote at the very end of the movie is the subject of some conjecture. It elicited huge cheers from the Australian cinema audience I saw it with, but it would not be the same everywhere. For the record it is not Samo Hung's character that says it as some people have wrongly said.

I would recommend this movie to fans of war movies and those who want their action movies to be non-stop and polished as possible.

Rating: 8/10

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