Jan 23, 2011

Dog Bite Dog


Surely inspired by the success of Danny the Dog aka Unleashed, Soi Cheang created the hard-boiled Hong Kong thriller Dog Bite Dog with extreme prejudice towards the Hong Kong Police Force. I had first viewed this film several years ago fresh off the shelves of its Dragon Dynasty release. I wouldn't consider it a blind purchase though. I had first caught wind of the film in the guise of a broken DVD shell in a friends trailer, complete with CATIII warning and printed box art. I had previously reviewed this film but was distressed with how unsatisfying my words had been. That seems to be the way with most of my dated entries. Having forgotten though allowed me to rewatch the film and herd some critical brainstorming as to the very violent nature of the two men and just how far gone both are in different respects. Walking a very thin line, the plot is a straight shot of vengeance. A detective goes to all ends of purgatory in search for a feral assassin who has murdered everyone close to him. You'd think the leeway would constrict the movement of the film but defying all odds, Dog Bite Dog remains an excellent resource of novelty cat-and-mouse games.


The differing audacity of Eastern and Western directors to allow police officers to be slain on film really gives the former the upper hand in scheming brutality for the screen. In Soi Cheang's Dog Bite Dog, virtually every character on the "good" team is slaughtered by the dog-like hit man, played by Edison Chen. 2 years after Dog Bite Dog saw release was the infamous sex scandal in which Edison Chen was the key player. What had happened was Edison Chen took to a computer technician his laptop to be repaired. Upon opening his laptop, said technician discovered hundreds of raunchy and lewd pornographic images of several Chinese celebrities. Had this instance unraveled in the U.S., the measures to be taken would have seemed lenient in regards to what officially happened. Sure this situation might not seem to be as heavy as it indeed was, most of the celebrities and singers involved were endorsed for their "squeaky-clean image", catapulting the red carpet district of Hong Kong into disarray. Surely Edison Chen's bad boy image added to the universal appeal of the star but the question begs; was this laughable incident a smear campaign or perhaps something more?


On terms of grim brutality, Dog Bite Dog might as well be a protégé of "Beat" Kitano's Violent Cop. Both films express a sexual deviancy and irresponsible nature towards human life. The crooked tactics utilized by Wai (Sam Lee) eventually rub off on his department which sticks as a fascinating transformation. Just as peer pressure and mass hysteria synchronize, his friends, who once doubted the length of extremes he vaulted, are seen letting loose and joining in on the "fun". Soon after the conflict escalates from childlike Pang attempting to escape to all sorts of turmoil as he "murders" a father living in a landfill who was pulling a "Fritz" and raping his daughter several times a day. After he ensnares the chubby lass with his domineering and firm, assertive behavior, she begins to follow him and dream big with their impromptu honeymoon on a sea-bound vessel towards Cambodia, where Pang was bred into the killer he is today. This introduces one of the very few flaws plaguing the rampage of Dog Bite Dog - the woman. I'm sure by now you're perceptive of my views towards women but this inclusion of romance where romance needn't fit drains the effervescent vitality straight from the vein. The bitch is borderline vegetable, blind to everything but her own gain. I admit the term "damaged goods" comes to mind but this portrayal of such is so flaccid and irritating. Her introduction to the story serves as the sole inciting antagonist towards the script-necrosis that takes effect during the last ten minutes.


Dog Bite Dog is an engaging and visceral experience in Hong Kong action cinema. Much of the effort on the part of Soi Cheang is lost due to these casual mistakes but all is forgivable. Apart from the assorted nitpicking of the incredibly rushed ending, so protruding from the overall flow that it's equivalent to tripping on an upturned stone. To close while reflecting paragraphs past, Dog Bite Dog is a film that withstood much malevolent hate within me these years of it evaporating from my memory banks. Having rewatched it with more of an understanding of the Eastern "filmosophy" I am more keen to the tale of despair it whispers. To rip a withstanding quote from my previous review, "If a film could work as sandpaper, Dog Bite Dog would be a carpenter's choice."


-mAQ

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