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1976: Because the Americans have forgotten a big missile arsenal
in Vietnam & want it destroyed, but without getting directly involved,
they have one of their American-Asian lieutnants (Lam Ching-Ying) lead a
team of American-Asian convicts (led by Sammo Hung) to Vietnam to blow up
But that is easier said than done, as even when parachuting down over
the rendez -yous points with a few guerilla girls (led by Joyce Godenzi),
the first of them loses his life. Soon afterwards, too, they are found out
by the Vietcong, but can stay one step ahead of them, partly thanks to
Chieh (Yuen Biao), a Vietnamese who has joined them, because they want to
take his buddy Yeung Lung (Haing S.Ngor), a POW who has later been
released because everyone thought him to be a loonie, back to America.
Eventually though, they fall into the hands of the Vietcong, because
one of the guerilla girls has betrayed them, & the POW-camp is exactly
what you would expect from the Vietcong, with the prisoners kept in cages
that are mthree quarters under water, & of course endless games of
However, of course out heroes make it out of the camp & unmask the
traitor, even though the bodycount among their own ranks growns higher by
When they after more battles witht he Vietcong finally make it to the
arsenal, the group has been diminished considerably ... & then the
guerilla girls try to keep the soldiers from blowing up the place at
gunpoint, since they could make good use of the missiles. It ends with
them battling among each other (& Joyce Godenzi losing an arm) before
the Vietcong have caught up, & now even the girls know they have to
blow up the missiles. A long & brutal fight follows, especially since
the leader of the Vietcong, a crazy giggling general (Yuen Wah), seems to
be a master fighter.
In the end though, out heroes blow up the place, but only three of them
survive (Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and a third guy) ...
While the parallels to the warfilm classic The Dirty Dozen are
obvious, Eastern Condors was obviously made to cashi in on the
success of Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985) & the dozens of
Vietnam-films that followed.
That said however, Eastern Condors does not seem in the least
derivative. While Rambo: First Blood Part 2 was little more than an
endless series of unimaginative shoot-outs, Eastern Condors is a
triumph of creative action cinema, almost every action scene seems to have
been invented especially for that movie & is executed with such a
perfection that there seems to be no point in ever redoing it. And yet,
the film seems to never show violence (& war is violent, no matter
wihich way you see it) for the violence's sake, as the mood - with
director Sammo Hung's typical lightfootedness - changes between broad
comedy & heavy drama and back, often all in the same shot. Plus, Hung
always keeps up the pace of his film & never forgets to entertain his
In his career, Sammo Hung has proven himself as a master of action
film-making (even if his merits were often overshadowed by those of his
buddy/classmate/co-star), but still Eastern Condors is probably his