Soi Cheung's ultra-violent "DOG BITE DOG" is the antidote for people who are a bit tired of the usual stylish "bullet ballet" action films from Hong Kong. At first glance, it may remind you of Jet Li's "Unleashed"; but the premise is done with more realism and brutal graphic violence that it really earns its Category III (NC-17) RATING.
A young Cambodian assassin named Pang (Edison Chen) arrives in Hong Kong to kill the spouse of a judge. After completion of the dire deed, he is pursued by the local police force partly headed by Inspector Wai (Sam Lee) who has his own demons to combat. Like a caged animal, fighting and fleeing like a cornered beast, Pang wipes out all of Wai's men. Along the way, he comes across a girl named Pei-Pei (Weiying pei), who is being abused by her stepfather. He rescues her from her ordeal; the chase goes to overdrive with an obsessed Inspector Wai...
Intensely brutal, gritty and seedy, director Soi goes for the throat and pulls out all the stops when it comes to very, very graphic violence. No style, almost no fight choreography is shown as the two protagonists pummel, bludgeon, and beat each other with everything but the kitchen sink. (I think there was a scene that they did use a kitchen sink) They even bite each other as the title suggests. Unrelenting violence is the lure of this film; it seemed to me that Soi has found his true calling in filming very dark, seedy and depressing thrillers.
“Dog Bite Dog” may turn off some viewers; the pessimistic portrayal of humanity and the lack of characters seeking redemption. There are no heroes of any kind here, even the emotional scenes have a feel that it is ready to implode on itself with unexpected violence. All the characters are "victims" of the challenges of life. However, I am certain that this film will find fans with its dark, unrelenting violent nature and movie-cults will be glad to say: "Not a Family Movie". The main theme of the film is; SURVIVE, by any means necessary.
The set designs are awesome. Soi does a tremendous job portraying the dark, dank alleys of Hong Kong as another character in the film. The set designs are well-designed; the dump sites look so real that I could almost "smell" the dirt and grime. The music has that depressing feel with almost a "sense of death" Edison Chen and Sam Lee do a decent job in their portrayal of Pang and Wai. I still had some issues because I still look at them as "teen idols". The film is NOT perfect, it has its faults (I didn't like the final act), but thankfully, the great direction by Soi overshadows its shortcomings.
Dog Bite Dog is a harrowing account of the darker side of man. It is not for the faint of heart, it is a world that everything just doesn't work out and is so pessimistic that "Cute Stuff" collectors should stay away. It is over the top and dare I say, a bit nihilistic a lot of times. This film will not disappoint fans of this type of movie. Highly Recommended! For those who love challenging violent cinema. It is ANYTHING but cute! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
VIDEO/AUDIO: Anamorphic Widescreen. The transfer is intentionally shot with a grayish hue, colors are a bit dull but the contrast is extremely sharp. Black levels are solid. 5.1 Dolby/5.1 DTS Cantonese track with very good English subtitles.
This review was originally posted in amazon.com August, 2007
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