Eastern Condors (1987, Hong Kong; filmed in The Philippines and Canada). Director: Sammo Hung. Action directors: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Corey Yuen, Lam Ching-Ying & Hsiao Hou.
Full movie; original English dub
Early in this thread, I posted the final fight, but it was only the last portion of it. It is rare to find the full movie posted on YouTube, and it may get taken down at any time due to licensing issues. It’s also rare to find this movie in original English dub. For lovers of action cinema, this movie is definitely worth seeing in its entirety at least once.
Eastern Condors was an extremely ambitious project for Hong Kong cinema, and for director/star Sammo Hung in particular, who lost 30 pounds for his role. It was clearly inspired by movies such as The Dirty Dozen, The Deer Hunter, and Rambo: First Blood Part II, but with Sammo Hung’s own unique take and penchant for large ensemble casts. Set in 1976, a year after the end of the Vietnam war, the plot is about a huge, secret arsenal of weapons that was left behind by the Americans, who now want to destroy it to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Vietcong. Lieutenant Colonel Lam (Lam Ching-Ying) is tasked with recruiting a unit comprised of Chinese-American convicts to go into Vietnam and destroy the arsenal, and if they succeed, they get a full pardon, full US citizenship, and $200,000 each. They are helped by three female Cambodian guerilla fighters.
Of course, like any action movie, many aspects are contrived (running straight into machine gun fire, gunfire missing easy targets, using knives to climb a tree, using leaves as projectile weapons, etc., etc.). But for pure entertainment value, this is my personal favorite “war movie.”
The movie also features the late Haing S. Ngor, most famous for co-starring in (and winning an Oscar for) The Killing Fields.
Unlike most Sammo Hung films of the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s, this movie is not a comedy, although there are some comedic aspects. In particular, the effeminate Vietcong general with the high-pitched, squeaky giggle, played by Yuen Wah; an affect to create a colorful character that the audience would underestimate. This is also not a ‘martial arts film’ per se, but a war/action movie with some martial arts scenes incorporated into it; however, those martial arts scenes are outstanding.
Yuen Woo-Ping and Corey Yuen, both more famous as directors, also have roles as team members.
Cambodian guerilla fighters (Joyce Godenzi, Elsa Chiu & Ha Chi-Chun) vs Vietcong:
Sammo Hung & Yuen Biao vs Vietcong (with Philip Ko Fei):
Sammo Hung, Joyce Godenzi, Yuen Biao, Corey Yuen, Yuen Woo-Ping, Lau Nam-Kwong, Elsa Chiu, Hsiao Hou, Charlie Chin, & Haing S. Ngor vs Vietcong:
Final battle (From 1:15:20):
Sammo Hung vs Joyce Godenzi; Lam Ching-Ying, Lau Nam-Kwong & Charlie Chin vs Vietcong; Sammo Hung vs Billy Chow; Yasuaki Kurata vs Hsiao Hou & Lam Ching-Ying; Yuen Biao vs Yasuaki Kurata & Dick Wei; Joyce Godenzi vs Dick Wei; Yuen Biao & Sammo Hung vs Yuen Wah: