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QT5: Guys On A Mission War Films - DARK OF THE SUN & EASTERN CONDORS... A night of bliss at the movies!

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!!!

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 24, 2001, 2 p.m. CST

    Guys on a Mission night

    by Slaanesh

    Last night was definitely the best night of the festival so far for me. This is my first QT experience and the whole thing has been a blast so far. I didn't think anything could top Martial Arts epic night for me but lo and behold, Guys on a Mission kicked ass. As soon as I heard that Tarrantino was leaning towards a Hong-Kong flavor for this fest, I was praying he'd be showing Eastern Condors. Then I saw the schedule and that there was a Guys on a Mission night for Thursday and I was thinking, "holy shit, now he's got to have Eastern Condors". Thank god. He did. This movie kicks so much ass it aint funny. Quentin's rendition of the action theme was hilarious, especially when the virgins in the audience first heard it as the Lead Guerilla Chick is running in slow-mo (sorry, forgot her name). Definitely one of the best nights ever spent at the Drafthouse in terms of audience reaction. Dark of the Sun was great too. I've always known Rod Taylor as the guy from The Time Machine. Who knew he could kick so much ass! My god, this movie was enlightening. I must see The Liquidator now (they played the preview for it during the pre-movie ordering period). All in all this night was a major rush.

  • Aug. 24, 2001, 2:02 p.m. CST


    by Slaanesh

    Just thought I'd say "kicked so much ass" once more. After reading through my last post I don't think I used the phrase enough. Must remember to not write in a cool-movie induced frenzy next time.

  • Aug. 24, 2001, 2:13 p.m. CST

    FANTASTIC. Fun. Move to Austin today.

    by First

    Dark of the Sun was amazing. We dropped down 60+ bucks on tickets and dinner last night, and it WAS WORTH IT. This was my first QT experience, and it was great. They even played Marty Robbins during intermission. I sat a litle in front of Harry, whom I have never met. I'm sure he won't be bothered by my revealing that he DOESN'T HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE and he has seats reserved for him! Fah! Lucky guy. I would have gone to chat with him, but I had no idea what to say. It really was a great great crowd. And I can't praise Dark of the Sun enough. Why was this forgotten??!? Say what you will of Quentin Tarantino, but he is a guy that is using his celebrity for good. I would have never seen this had I not attended. Thanks! And I probably wouldn't have laid out the dough to attend without Harry's gushing reports. So thanks to him too. AUSTIN IS COOL.

  • Aug. 24, 2001, 2:36 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I had that Navarrone playset!!!!

    by Z-Man

    That was my fave toy! Of course, that was before Shogun Warriors and Micronauts came out, which were the greatest toys ever (except Legos), but those were also kind of bittersweet, because--and other geex my exact age will know exactly what I'm talking about--Shoguns and Micronauts came out just when I was getting...almost too old to play with those, ya know? I had about a 1-yr window in which I could really play with those, but I kept playing with them after that, cause, fuck, they fuckin RULED!!!!

  • Aug. 24, 2001, 3:22 p.m. CST

    The Condors!

    by Bruce Leroy

    Oh,man. Eastern Condors is one of the best Hong Kong flicks I

  • Aug. 24, 2001, 3:45 p.m. CST

    EASTERN CONDORS is one of the greatesy HK movies EVER!!!

    by Cash Bailey

    That finale is so fugging intense, and Sammo is thinner and even faster than ever. Joyce is a Goddess and Yuen Wah is a God. Of course, it was a bomb in HK, but then again so was THE KILLER and Sammo's SHANGHAI EXPRESS. Wow, EASTERN CONDORS on the big screen....sigh.

  • Aug. 24, 2001, 4:08 p.m. CST

    Another QT ripoff?

    by QTBLOWS

    QT has been accused of plagurizing obscure foreign films in the past, is it possible that the same is the case with "Glorious Bastards"? In 1977 there was a Dirty Dozen-ish behind the lines movie from Italy called the "Inglorious Bastards" (can't remember the Italian title but it was directed by the great Enzo G. Castellari ) I loved this piece of pulp when I was a kid and caugt it on TV in all its dubbed badness. Look it up on the Imdb and tell Quentin I'll be scrutinizing his script.

  • Aug. 24, 2001, 5:47 p.m. CST

    "Dark Of the Sun" rocks!

    by Uncapie

    Once again, Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimuex team up in an action-packed flick! Taylor is a man's, man! Jim Brown was giving Rod some shit on the set one day, so Rod knocked him on his ass royaly! Brown respected him after that and never gave him anymore lip. Great score from the film. Plus, a sidenote, there are no Mig's in this movie as displayed on the poster, but it still looks cool and where else can you see a psycho, ex-Nazi with a chainsaw fight Rod Taylor who only relies on his wits and fists to beat this guy?!

  • Aug. 25, 2001, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Eastern Condors is simply the best film ever made!

    by HarryKnuckles

    That is all.

  • Aug. 25, 2001, 7:48 p.m. CST

    Jesus Christ, Harry! Chinese people's last names come FIRST!!!

    by Cash Bailey

    It's Yuen Wah, Yuen Woo Ping and Chow Sing-Chi, not Wah Yuen, Woo-Ping Yuen or Sing-Chi Chow. Granted, it's not an irritating and inexplicable as your beloved '...' stopping sentences in the middle of them and then starting new ones, but for a 'head geek' you sure seem to know jack about the machinations of the HK film industry. Besides that, though, great reports. Wish I was there.

  • Aug. 26, 2001, 12:21 a.m. CST

    believe me, QTBLOWS

    by CerebralAssassin

    Quentin is fully aware of Inglorious Bastards (aka Counterfeit Commandos, Deadly Mission, G.I. Bro, and Hell's Heroes). So are many people. It's not as obscure as you might think. I would consider the name of his upcoming flick an homage. But, if he puts Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson in it, I WON'T complain. I'd like to point out the Quentin lost some major points with me when he dissed on Jack Cardiff's lensing skills. He is considered one of the BEST cinematographers innovator in the use of color. Most of you fanboys probably haven't heard of The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, or A Matter of Life and Death, but they're the reason he got an Oscar last year...not because he directed silly B-flicks like The Long Ships.

  • Aug. 26, 2001, 8:10 p.m. CST

    Cerebral, don;t forget Michael Powell's directing either.

    by Uncapie

    He was the other half of that great team. Then again, I agree that most of these fanboys are more interested in who's starring in the next "Terminator 3" rather than learning about the classic films that Cardiff and Powell did.

  • Aug. 27, 2001, 8:36 a.m. CST

    Harry, don't confine your enthusiasm to QT marathons...

    by heywood jablomie

    ....when you write this passionately and infectiously about great old movies, it makes me think you just start writing stuff about your own favorite neglected classics. There are a lot of wet-behind-the-ears so-called film geeks on this site who were born after FERRIS BUELLER came out. Teach them! Show them the way! Point them toward the path of righteousness! Anyway, it's way more fun to read you getting ecstatic over these great films than having to pick over TOMCATS or RAT RACE or SUMMER CATCH.

  • Aug. 27, 2001, 11:56 p.m. CST

    Dark Of The Sun

    by ShogunAssassin

    I must have seend this movie about twenty times when I was a kid growing up in South America. The scene with the guy getting his head stuck bellow the locomotive's wheel has stuck with me for the last twenty years or so. Defenetly a cool movie and to know that I saw it two decades before that cocksucker Harry did warms my heart to no end.

  • June 22, 2011, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Dark Of The Sun

    by Albert

    I'd be interested to know where QT found an uncut print of 'Dark Of The Sun'. Warner Bros couldn't find one. They've just released the cut version on DVD because they say it's the only version available.