QT5: Guys On A Mission War Films - DARK OF THE SUN & EASTERN CONDORS... A night of bliss at the movies!
Published at: Aug. 24, 2001, 12:55 p.m. CST by staff
QT5: Bunch of Guys on a Mission War Movies
Well, this night would be our first glimpse into what Quentin Tarantino considers "Bunch of Guys On A Mission War Film" which is important, because we know that the project immediately after KILL BILL is GLORIOUS BASTARDS, which Quentin has described as being in this genre.
Going into this night I had never even heard of DARK OF THE SUN, though I had seen EASTERN CONDORS on video (not the best way to see it). So I was very eager. I woke up this day, sick as a dog. Sitting atop a porcelain throne for most of the day like a drippy/running faucet. I was majorly dehydrated and really did look like death warmed over. That in combination with my back injury made getting to the Drafthouse this day… A matter of sheer will and that I had in spades. There was no way on this Earth that I would miss this or any other night of the fest. And the results of this night just confirmed my belief in that all the more.
Quentin took the stage, a bit redder than normal, probably a result of tubing down the Guadelupe River with Robert Forster today, but he was charged about the night.
Quentin’s relationship with this film began in that medium known as Vinyl… That’s right, those strange circular pieces of grooved asphalt. While going through a bin of vintage LPs one day he came across the record for DARK OF THE SUN. His interest was instantly captivated by the art of Jim Brown and Rod Taylor facing off against a horde of would be attackers, all in that gritty cool 60’s Action Movie Poster art… Then 3 years ago he picked up a print of the film, "I’ll buy anything with Jim Brown in it!" He watched the film utterly enthralled when suddenly at the end… the last two violent encounters were… edited. So for 3 years he’d been searching for a print to bring to Austin and everytime he would find one, it was ‘edited for television’. Then, 3 weeks ago there was a print of DARK OF THE SUN for sale under its alternative title THE MERCENARIES. He decided that only a leap from the lion’s mouth would prove his worth, so he bought it and prayed to the God of Prints that it be whole.
Lo and behold it was a gorgeous LPP (that’s good) uncut print!
"Now this isn’t a World War II film, this isn’t even armies… This is a film about Mercenaries on a mission through the African Congo." Well, that’s interesting I thought. "This movie will deliver, I’m telling you that, this movie will deliver," he said nearly possessed. He told us this print was so mint that this was probably the print’s "Second to being Virgin exhibition" "I’m happy as a clam to be bringing you this movie tonight!"
Then he told us that the director was Jack Cardiff, who is better known as a cinematographer, than director. Well Quentin says, "I’ve seen AFRICAN QUEEN and didn’t find anything particularly grand about the cinematography! FUCK THE RECORD, Cardiff was a better Director!" Now, while I’m quite a fan of Cardiff’s work as a director… THE RED SHOES and BLACK NARCISSUS are perhaps two of the most beautifully shot films in history and are a testament to the power of what the motion picture camera can capture. Just my opinion.
To back up Quentin’s statement he ran through a list of Cardiff’s movies like THE LIQUIDATORS, THE MUTATIONS and THE LONG SHIPS. "THE LONG SHIPS is my favorite Viking movie ever, with Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier… Poitier plays a Moor and it’s about the battles between the Vikings and the Moors… Sidney Poitier is the fucking man in that movie!"
Next he moved on to talking about Rod Taylor, "Now most of you probably know Rod Taylor from THE TIME MACHINE or THE BIRDS or the voice of Pongo from 101 DALMATIONS, he’s the daddy dog in that. Actually one of my favorite voice performances in Disney history! Well Rod Taylor was the Russell Crowe of his time. He was an Aussie and played the same sorts of roles as Crowe! You should really check out 36 HOURS with him and James Garner. Rod Taylor is one of the few guys on the planet that I could believe could whup Jim Brown."
Then… Oh man…
"Now, I’ve heard a story. A tale I once heard from an old Playmate, not one of mine, but one of Hugh’s. Now I’m not saying I believe this, but if I could believe it about anyone, I’d believe it about Rod Taylor. But this old Playmate told me about a party that Hugh Hefner had back in the day, might have even been while they were working on this film, where Jim Brown and Rod Taylor were both at the Mansion and got into it. Apparently they went out to the part of the Mansion where your car pulls up and went at it. Rod Taylor and Jim Brown actually fought. Now this sounds impossible, but as the story goes, Rod Taylor apparently beat Jim Brown. Now I know… But that’s how the story goes…"
"Like I’ve said, I’ve waited 3 years to show this movie to y’all, and make a few Rod Taylor fans in the evening. So here we go…. DARK OF THE SUN!!!! THUMP!!!!"
No trailers, just straight into the film… Quentin had edited his DARK OF THE SUN titles to the front of the print, because he wants DARK OF THE SUN to be the title, not THE MERCENARIES…
Folks, there are times when I wish the Drafthouse held 5 million seats and was a screen a mile and a half wide with sound the likes of which only Gods wield, because this is a movie… a screening that I dearly wish with every ounce of my immense girth, that you were at. Each and everyone of you.
There are very few times in the course of a year of filmgoing where a film can give you afterglow. Afterwards, this movie confirmed my entire belief in watching films that noone has heard of… Of digging through the annals of time for those titles that all have seem to have forgotten. DARK OF THE SUN is an immense film.
This film was literally ripped straight from the headlines of the period. The civil wars and warring tribes of the Congo… The hacking deaths, the feeding of nuns to alligators… Death to all… Now I’ve seen a great many "GUYS ON A MISSION WAR MOVIES."
My favorite being GUNS OF NAVARONE… well this is now number 2. It leap-frogged THE DIRTY DOZEN, WHERE EAGLES DARE, ICE STATION ZEBRA, KELLY’S HEROES, CROSS OF IRON, BIG RED ONE, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and on and on and on.
Rod Taylor and Jim Brown are so fucking great in this movie…. Jack Cardiff’s direction is absolutely the definition of perfection. The score… well Click Here To Listen!!! The look of the film, the visceral horror of it all… the emotional hot poker to the eye of the flick… Just absolutely impeccable.
Essentially a film that sets itself up to be a ‘dangerous train ride’ becomes something so much greater than anything of the sort. In many ways I could make a case for this film being superior to GUNS OF NAVARONE, but that film has an emotional place in my heart… (aka I had the playset as a kid and Anthony Quinn is a fucking God) …but I won’t. Ok I will…
DARK OF THE SUN does something that I have seen not enough for in film. The characters realize the consequences of their actions and are willing to face them. This is a film that acknowledges rules of conduct in war, just as in Kubrick’s wonderful PATHS OF GLORY… It has all the horrors of war and humanity of any great war film. And the performances are… Across the board as great as they can be.
This is a film to be rediscovered and heralded!
After the film, I was just glowing, and I turned to look at Patch, and she had that well fucked glow about her as well… and I looked down the AICN row and everyone was in smoke a cigarette mode… This movie was great sex man!
Patch said that she just wanted to go home and curl up with the movie and just bask. AMEN, we were both immensely worried about how the hell there could be a second film on the bill with this movie.
Well Quentin took the stage, "Now when I got this print and decided to bring it down here, I was faced with the dilemma of… How the fuck do I follow DARK OF THE SUN? Not that you can top DARK OF THE SUN, because in my opinion movies just don’t fucking get better than DARK OF THE SUN… But don’t worry folks, I have a film that won’t top it, but can walk in this night hand in hand with DARK OF THE SUN. EASTERN CONDORS. This film is one of the top 5 Hong Kong films ever made in my opinion. Essentially it is Sammo Hung’s DIRTY DOZEN, but he’s breaking all the rules we learned through all those 60’s Guys on A Mission movies. This film was my chief impetus… is that a word… well it’s a word that sounds a lot like that word, but my chief inspiration for wanting to make a GUYS ON A MISSION WAR MOVIE, the film I’ll do after KILL BILL."
He told us that Sammo Hung really got as buff as he’s ever been for this movie. That Yuen Biao does "some fantastic acrobatic shit in this flick, even though he has one of the ugliest hairstyles ever… and we’re talking Hong Kong films so that’s pretty bad!" He told us that Woo Ping Yuen plays one of the crew in this flick (and you guys and gals all know who that is I trust!)
Then he talked about the KILLER CHICKS in the flick. He seemed to be very excited about the Killer Chicks in this film. The guerilla girls that are assigned to help our guys on the mission. And frankly they are immensely bad ass. Then he talked about the use of Hong Kongese and Chinese in the film, and the audience laughed at the phrase "Hong Kongese" so Quentin says, "They’re called Hong Kongese alright, that’s the term AUSTINITES… FUCK OFF!" To which much laughing commenced.
He then talked about how this was essentially a Hong Kong version of THE LOSERS (classic Hell’s Angels on a mission in Nam flick starring the god that is William Smith!) He then returned to talking about how much ass the girls kick in this movie, and then decided to tell us about the "Shit hitting the fan Theme" that begins anytime that our heroes are about to really kick ass!.
And lastly he told us the Dick Wah (aka Wah Yuen) plays the evil General of the film in his greatest villainous performance!
Then again he pre-empted the trailers and went straight into EASTERN CONDORS!
Alright, now while I definitely prefer DARK OF THE SUN, EASTERN CONDORS was a wonderful choice to follow up the first flick with.
There’s more of a sense of fun here. More ‘kickass-ness’ in place… and a better late night flick. The audience cheered every single time the ‘shit hitting the fan theme’ cranked up, and Sammo… well Sammo Hung just kicks ass up both sides of the street.
While I have seen this before, seeing it on the big screen was immensely better. This is a WIDESCREEN experience, and well anything that gets Joyce Godenzi bigger and clearer… ahhhh, she is such a deadly angel!
The end battle is glorious! The scenes where Sammo is out killing Viet Cong… or when he knocks out the machine gun nest or the gun boats… Well… just wheeeee fun! What a joy!
By the time the film ended, the audience was just electric… thrilled to death to have been in the Drafthouse this night. And I have to say, if these two movies are Quentin’s idea of ‘GUYS ON A MISSION WAR FLICK’ then GLORIOUS BASTARDS should be something… immensely cool. We’ll see…. Someday.
Well today is REVENGE NIGHT… and I finally will get to see ROLLING THUNDER!!! BLISS!!!