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Review Eastern Condors a.k.a. Dung fong tuk ying (1987): Sammo Hung's Dirty Dozen!

genre: action, war, martial arts

A group of Chinese-American prisoners are put on an important mission in Vietnam. Like in The Dirty Dozen they are promised freedom and top of that a decent amount of money. However there is a reason why these people are picked. You guessed it they are expendable. 

Unlike The Dirty Dozen there is very little to no exposition on these prisoners. Only through the dialogue and the dynamics are you given an idea of who they are. In all honesty these people could have been anybody and it would have not made that much of a difference. As with most missions in films things don't go according to plan but this group of soldiers are determined enough to follow through. Most of the people in this group are immensely likeable. They are comrades from start to finish and have good chemistry between them. Comedic moments are interchanged with serious ones in such an effective way that you care for these characters even when you barely know them.

The group of soldiers are led by Lieutenant Lam played by Lam Ching-ying (Mt. Vampire) and Ming-Sun Tung played by Sammo Hung.Other notable members are Corey Yuen and Yuen Woo-Ping. They get assistance from three Cambodian guerrillas featuring Joyce Godenzi. Later on Yuen Biao and Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields) join in as well. At the very end Yuen Wah pops up as giggling villain whose role might be brief but very memorable. Actually the whole cast do a good job of making events believable. Although it is Godenzi who really impresses. With Sammo Hung at the helm as director you just know that the action will be top notch. But on top of that he was able to build up tension and suspense in the quieter scenes which made the action more exciting. The action itself is a wonderful blend of martial arts and heroic bloodshed. Personally I would have preferred if he would have forsaken martial arts and went full John Woo. But then Eastern Condors would have been too similar to Heroes Shed No Tears. So it's fine as it is.

Eastern Condors hasn't lost it's strength at all. It holds up quite well and still impresses today. While there are a few slow downs there isn't a single boring second in this film. It's also one you can watch over and over again and never get tired of. So in short Eastern Condors is a classic. 

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