Dog Bite Dog has to be one of the most extreme action movies I’ve seen in the past couple of years. ‘Extreme’ in that sense that it’s a veritable orgy of violence. There are so many stabbings, shootings and ah, blunt instrumentings in this film that it pays not to get too attached to any one character, cos it’s likely they’re gonna croak in the next few minutes…
Pou-Soi Cheang’s film certainly has style. The gritty cinematography and drab colours of Hong Kong are a depressing backdrop to the events, and the action is captured brilliantly in a brutal, no nonsense fashion. The other standout feature of the film is the soundtrack. It sounds like Brad Fiedel conducting an orchestra of pachyderms – and I mean this in a good way. Occasionally reminiscent of Akira it truly adds something special to the uncompromising atmosphere of the film.
It’s a pity the rest of the film is found lacking… for instance, the story. The lack of originality isn’t really a problem, more that there’s no one with which to sympathise. Are we supposed to be behind the violent, witness-beating cop whose actions result in a number of dead bystanders (think Dirty Harry but with less self control), or with the Cambodian assassin trained to kill from an early age (a bit like Danny in Unleashed (Danny the Dog)) on a murder spree? I’m not sure of the answer and I don’t think anyone else in the 2007 Melbourne International Film Festival audience did either. There were quite a few sniggers early on, and outright laughter in the film’s climactic moments.
It’s just so incredibly removed from reality. The assassin’s actions may be (sort of) credible, but the cops are hopeless! They have no control over their fellow officers and spend the entire film many, many steps behind the assassin who seems to be making it up as he goes along… By the time the love story comes around you simply don’t care for the characters; you just wish everyone would stop making each other bleed. And then in the last few moments the film tries to get philosophical… Action movie aficionados may find something they crave in Dog Bite Dog, but they’d really have to turn a blind eye to its other faults.Rating: