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東方禿鷹 (1987)
Eastern Condors

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 02/21/2007

Sammo Hung and a cast of thousands head to Vietnam to blow up an ammunition dump the Americans failed to secure before retreating. The original Hong Kong trailer heavily comprised of footage that landed on the cutting room floor could have very well given "Eastern Condors" some much-needed substance. The finished product squeezes the life out of the characters in favor of wall-to-wall ammunition, explosions, and hand-to-hand combat. When someone dies the film doesn't allow you to care, nevertheless, "Eastern Condors" is so much fun to look at it's doubtful you'll be satisfied watching this quasi-"Dirty Dozen" update just once.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/20/2006
Summary: War!

Hype can be a terrible thing. When I finally got to see this film in the mid-90’s after all the rave reviews, I was bitterly disappointed – it was just nowhere near as good as everybody claimed it was. It was, in fact, just a knock-off of just about every western war film ever made, with a bit of good kung fu thrown in. The talk at the time was of Sammo’s great 80’s “trilogy” of unconnected but equally stunning films – Millionaires Express, Eastern Condors and Pedicab Driver. While a great fan of Millionaires Express and Pedicab Driver, I just didn’t get this at all.

Disillusioned, I didn’t watch it again for about five years, when I gave it another go. I’ve watched it again since, and I find myself re-evaluating it every time – for the better.

Eastern Condors is a conundrum. While appearing to be unlike every Sammo Hung film you can think of, it is also so typical of his style that it is impossible to think of anyone else who could have directed it. For a start, there’s (almost) no humour in the film at all – at a time when virtually every action film out of Hong Kong was a comedy this really was bucking the trend. Instead, the tone of the film is unremittingly dark.

On the other hand, you have Sammo’s trademark action. Yuen Biao is, as ever, fantastic as a bike-riding balloon-loving hippy, and Sammo himself is on top form. It’s worth pointing out that Sammo is in incredible shape for this film – I saw a clip of it in the 80’s and assumed it was made in the 70’s, as he looks so good. In fact, he’s in better shape for this film than he was in 1973’s Enter the Dragon – a result of hard training and a strict diet.

Some elements work better than others, of course. As has been said, some of it does feel like a war movie pastiche, and the sick joke with the stuttering man who didn’t open his parachute is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in Hong Kong cinema. But the action and general excitement this film generates makes up for its shortcomings.

It’s hard to believe that none of these films in his great “trilogy” were major hits in his homeland – even now they seem to be only really regarded as classics in the west. If he had been more appreciated, maybe he would have continued to make films on a level with this and really challenged Jackie Chan for the crown of Hong Kong’s greatest action star.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 06/18/2005
Summary: Excellent Dirty Dozen in Vietnam

In a plot very similar to The Dirty Dozen, Eastern Condors is about a group of Chinese prisoners who are recruited to blow up a weapon supply depot in Vietnam during the war. If they succeed, they will be awarded $200,000 and full US citizenship. Figuring they have nothing to lose, the group, led by the tough Colonel Lam (Lam Ching Ying), decides to take a shot. As they are parachuting out of the plane into the jungles below, the Major is told that the mission is aborted and that no back up will be sent to aid them. His men having already jumped, the Major takes the plunge as well, knowing full well that none of them will probably return. Once in Vietnam, they meet up with a group of 3 Cambodian women rebels (their leader, played by Joyce Godenzi, is married to Sammo Hung in real life) who are there to help them accomplish their mission. Along the way they are also joined by Yuen Baio, a smuggler/trader of American goods, and Dr. Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields), who plays his crazy uncle.

This movie takes no prisoners, with graphic violence and some incredible action. The plot, although basic, is entertaining, and the acting is also good. Sammo Hung is always fun to watch, but the star in this film is definitely Yuen Biao, with some nasty fight scenes and unbelievable acrobatics. The movie builds to a great climactic scene with a terrific fight scene between Sammo and Yuen Wah (the leader of the enemy Vietnamese squadron). Eastern Condors is a very enjoyable action movie with a good dose of quality martial arts thrown into the mix.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/26/2003

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.

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/09/2003
Summary: Entertaining B movie.

Great action and ideas, very underdeveloped plot but the acting is good. Kinda of a classic with Brutal fights!

Reviewed by: Wu'xiaBadger
Date: 02/10/2003
Summary: Full Beast, No exceptions

Sammo, Yuen(x2), Corey, Joyce...ahhh. Uniformly excellent performances all around; undoubtably the finest HK war film I've ever seen. Between this and "Moonwarriors", Sammo had proven himself to be a more-than-capable director, and I'm very anxious to find other directorial projects of his. Also some good fighting, great humor and pacing, and a bit of good old fashioned beliggerent action. Sure the plot is predictable, but less so than one might expect. Highly recommended. 10/10

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: foleyisgravy
Date: 04/13/2002
Summary: Features some of the best filmed fight action of all time!

I'm not gonna beat around the bush on this one. It's a fantastic movie that has just about everybody you can imagine from 80's HK movies. Almost like a more serious version of Millionaires Express. You can read about the synopsis of the film in one of the other reviews of this flick. What I want to talk about is the action. The oh so beautiful and brutal action.

The last fight is arguably Sammo's finest hour in terms of his camerawork. Every shot is so good, you cringe whenever a hit connects because it looks so harsh and realistic. Amazing fighting action by Biao and Sammo at the climax. Not to mention Billy Chow, Dick Wei, Yasuaki Kurata, and of course Yuen Wah.

I like this movie a lot and can't really tire of showing it to people who have never seen it before. Take a gander.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 04/13/2002
Summary: Excellent

After veiwing this again, I'm not quite sure why I only rated it as 4, because I found practically no flaws in this, and well deserves a 5.

Anyone not seen it yet? You better go and get it.

New Rating: [5/5]

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: GREAT

A good movie where once again Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao team up together and bring on fighting like nobody else knows!

A war movie, which is half drama, half action. A good story too, not too many HK movies have broken through on an international level from Hong Kong or China as far as war goes, but this was different. One of Sammos best for sure, acting as well as fighting. A good cast too, including Brigitte Lin, Joyce Godenzi (who is underestimated in the movie world), Charlie Chin, Billy Lau, Yuen Wah, Corey Yuen, Yuen Biao (only Jackie Chan was missed out of the Yuen boys list!), even Yuen WOo Ping. There were plenty of cameos too from Wu Ma, James Tin, Billy Chow, Dick Wei, and plenty more. It seems every time I watch it, I see someone else in it! Never have I seen another HK movie with such an impressive cast list!

Rating (of 5): 4
(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

Watched this movie many years ago on VHS when I was just getting into HK movies, so it was interesting to rewatch it now. It's a HK take of Dirty Dozen-style war movies, about a special commando operation in Vietnam after the American withdrawal. Headed by Lam Ching Ying and Sammo Hung, a group of soldiers of Vietnamese-Chinese and HK-Chinese descent are on a secret mission behind enemy lines to blow up a weapons cache left behind by the Americans. They are aided by Yuen Biao playing a local, and Joyce Godenzi as a Cambodian guerilla fighter. Yuen Wah is the VC general opposing them.

The movie is weak in terms of character development (although this may be due to some heavy cuts: the trailer shows some additional scenes set during the initial training that were probably meant to help establish the characters and their relationships - however, these scenes were missing from the final cut on the Universe DVD! I don't know if an uncut version of this movie is available). But it more than makes up for it with exciting action set pieces. Joyce Godenzi has some memorable, intense scenes (and what happens to her in the end is pretty gut-wrenching), and the final confrontation between Sammo, Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah shows all three at their peak. Fun movie (leaving aside the war-glorifying aspects), and the Universe DVD is decent (although the 5.1 sound remix is somewhat flat at times). Recommended.

Reviewed by: Kncklz2000
Date: 07/20/2001
Summary: Great Action but......

That's right. I don't care what anyone says, the action in it was awesome. BUT (that's right, there's a but) the story happened too fast.

The characters were dying out really quick and there wasn't enough history about them. So you have this dramatic moment but you don't really care because the characters haven't been in the movie long enough.

Everyone knows the plot: 10 Chinese prisoners are given a chance to get their American citizenship and $200,00 cash if they go to Vietnam and destroy a missile base that was left by the Americans. Lam Ching Ying is the leader of this operation.

3 Cambiodian females meet and help them on their journey. They have to go through a village to get someone, and end up getting in more trouble then they could handle. Fortunately for them, Yuen Biao has no choice but to join them.

Now there's something I want to talk about: Yuen Biao.

I think his character is so cool. He's like super slcik. And the hair and the earing makes him look so bad-ass.

The fights aren't long, but the action and choreography is there. Believe me, it's great. Also, you got your humor , but it's dialogue humor, not action (well, some action humor in the end).

So basically everyone except for a few people get killed (watch the movie to find out who. Yeah you can guess two of them, but you'd never expect the other(s) to be who he/she/they are).

So you got this fast moving, not really dramatic, war time movie that has great action.

Oh... a note on just a few of the action points. There are about 3 things that are complete nonsense in the action. But The ones that Sammo does, well, he makes it look really good.

Reviewed by: ElectraWoman
Date: 10/28/2000
Summary: 5/10-Yeah! BLOW THAT BRIDGE UP!

I beg to differ about the action scenes were boring. I thought they were great. I liked how Sammo Hung uses a leaf as a killing machine, and Yuen Biao's leap from the trees.

Barring that-there's little characterization, I thought. They were just stock characters-the horny guy, the mad guy, the quiet leader, etc ad nauseum. The over-the-top violence makes it fun to watch, but I thought Sammo could have come up with something better than a no-brainer like this.

Reviewed by: hellboy
Date: 09/13/2000

Eastern Condors is not a kung-fu film. It is a character driven portrait of a desperate group of criminals who are given a choice; prison or a suicide mission. EC has the same initial plot as the Dirty Dozen, as it has often been compared to. The characters range from great to typical. This is probably the only Samo film to have absolutely no humor in it. He doesn't even crack a smile. What he does do is kick VC ass. Samo shed a lot of pounds for his role and he's never looked leaner and meaner for it. The scene with Yuen Wo-Ping and Corey Yuen Kwai waiting for VC to storm the bridge is excellent. The end is a bit contrived but delivers a slam-bang payoff nonetheless. 8/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 12/09/1999

Whatcha got here is a movie that exists for action. There's no deep message or commentary on "the tragedy of war", other than brief mourning scenes every time a good guy bites it. This doesn't automatically make it a bad movie; the problem is, the action scenes just aren't very good. Most of the action is gunplay, for which Samo Hung shows NO aptitude in this film. Good guy shoots, four bad guys flail and fall down. Not too exciting. Then there are the fight scenes, which are short and fairly disappointing. This movie is hardly dull, and is perhaps worth a watch, but just isn't anything special. Two superior movies in a somewhat similar vein are the more cartoony and goofy THE RAID and the Indiana Jones-like BURY ME HIGH.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

About a daring commando raid into Vietnam to destroy a munitiondump left behind by American marines.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

B-minus fare about a troop of Chinese convicts who are promised freedom should they destroy a North Vietnamese munitions silo. High lighted by three jumping, twirling kung-fu commando girls, and equally good acrobatics by Yuen Biao and Samo Hung. If you like explosions, some good stunts, camp humor, and a predictable plot, this one's for you.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 5