Director: Sammo Hung
Stars: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Joyce Godenzi, Lam Ching-Ying, Yuen Woo-Ping, Corey Yuen, Yuen Wah, Billy Chow, Phillip Ko, Wu Ma, Melvin Wong, Dick Wei, Max Mok, Ben Lam, Hang S. Ngor
This movie is kind of an amalgamation of The Dirty Dozen and Rambo, with Lam Ching-Ying bringing a group of convicts (Sammo being the leader amongst them) into Vietnam to complete a dangerous mission. Even though there are some attempts at emotion and symbolism sprinkled throughout the movie, the emphasis here is on action. There is just enough exposition to get the the next action sequence, then a bit more story, some more action, and so on. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. I would much rather watch an action movie just be a straight-forward adrenalin fest than yet another Killer wannabe. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the non-action bits. I found the characters quite engaging and enjoyed getting to know more about them, especially Max Mok as the resident wiseass, Wu Ma as the crusty old-timer, and Joyce Godenzi (Sammo's wife) as a Cambodian mercenary. There are also some genuinely moving dramatic parts as well, most notably a Deer Hunter-style game of Russian roulette that involves children.
But, as I said before, the emphasis in Eastern Condors is on the action, and it delivers it in spades. This is one of those rare movies where it's hard to pick out your favorite sequence because they're all so good. Sammo and Yuen Biao do the majority of the fighting (as well as doing some amazing stunts), but most of the cast gets in a few licks during the movie. It was really cool seeing guys like Corey Yuen and Yuen Woo-Ping showing their stuff onscreen, versus the behind-the-scenes work they do now. Of course, most of the guys get killed off until a final confrontation between the remainder of the force and the Vietnamese bosses, which is a stunning fight, and like the rest of this movie, should not be missed by any martial arts/action fan. Eastern Condors is definitely one of Sammo's best films and comes highly recommended.
A review of the DVD can be found here
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This DVD is available for purchase at www.hkflix.com