Sammo Hung's epic Vietnam war movie is a three-genre effort that seamlessly combines hard-knuckle martial arts action with battle shoot-outs and typical Chinese comedy. It's a great, fast-moving film with plenty of action to recommend it for genre fans; all of the Vietnam movie clichés are present and correct, and used to good effect. From underwater cages to jungle warfare and a bridge that needs to be traversed, Hung is in his element and the result is an eminently rewatchable film that stands as a minor classic.
Hung famously lost a load of weight for this role and he's never been better as the lean, mean, death machine, and the machete seems to be his weapon of choice this time around – lopping heads and limbs is par for the course for Sammo in this movie. He's supported by an exquisite Yuen Biao, acting at the peak of his career, and both men are top-notch in the many martial art fights that punctuate the movie. An effective supporting cast fleshes out the rest of the roles, from Lam Ching-Ying as the heroic colonel to Haing S. Ngor (straight from THE KILLING FIELDS) as a village idiot. Also on hand is Yuen Wah as the scene-stealing giggling general; he's a particularly nasty piece of work in this one, and enjoys punishing people's muscles and bones (when you watch the film, you'll see what I mean).
The plot is taken straight from THE DIRTY DOZEN and there are some great tragic deaths that would benefit any war classic. The violence is also a lot harder than usual for a Hong Kong flick, with some truly cringe-making moments. Lots of people are shot, lots of buildings are blown up, and the twists and turns in the movie's plot are endless, so you can never predict what's going to happen at any one time. As is typical for a Hong Kong flick, the finale is a huge set-piece in a munitions warehouse, featuring Biao and Hung battling it out with the ubiquitous Dick Wei, Billy Chow, Yasuaki Kurata, and Yuen Wah's surprisingly sprightly mega-villain. EASTERN CONDORS is a perfect treat for action fans and really can't be bettered.
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A motley group of Asian prisoners held in the US are given one chance for freedom. They are to go deep into Vietnam and destroy a secret depot of missles that the US left behind during the pull-out. The group, led by Lt. Lam and convict Tung, hook up with a trio of female freedom fighters and a happy go lucky martial artist named 'Rat'. The entire group is captured by the VC because one of them is a double agent, but they escape, cross an un-crossable bridge, and get to the secret base just ahead of the VC. By this point nearly all of the original group is dead, and it's up to Tung and Rat to fight the VC's leader, a bizarre giggling man who's lightning fast with martial arts.
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