One of the most nihilistic and brutal films I've ever seen, but also one of the most tragic and moving ones. This is an action-melodrama like the world has never seen it before. Sometimes the plot got me close to tears, while in the next moment delivering shocking revelations like a bone-crunching blow to the guts. Chilling performance by Edison Chen. The story of a HK-Cop and a Cambodian killer hunting each other down, while bit by bit losing their humanity, is a strong one. Featuring very little dialog in favor of haunting imagery and gritty camera-work, "Dog bite Dog" is pure HK-Bloodshed without the Heroism.
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A Cambodian man trained to fight for gamblers in his country is hired as a hitman and sent to Hong Kong. He performs the hit and then has to flee from Hong Kong police, who are wrestling with internal problems involving a model cop and his son, who is also on the force and who'd been told by his dad not to become a police officer. The model cop is in a coma after being shot, and internal affairs suspects him of dealing drugs on the side. The assassin then befriends a young girl who is molested and abused by her father. They both plan to get back on a ship to Cambodia but have to get past Hong Kong police, who are doing everything they can to catch the assassin.
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Dark and violent Thriller-Drama, that exceeds boundaries
Dark, gritty, raw and very VERY disturbing!
It's remarkable and quite praiseworthy how writers and directors continue to make great movies out of one of the oldest and most (over)used story lines in cinema! "Dog Bite Dog" is basically not much more than just the simple story of an lone copper obsessively chasing a brilliant criminal, only Pou-Soi Cheang distinguishes his film from the rest by being extremely violent & relentless. This is unquestionably one of the grittiest and most uncompromising movies I've ever seen, with an atmosphere of constant nihilism and characters that seem to come walking straight out of hell! Not even the installments in Chan-Wook Park's trilogy of vengeance (with the exception of "Oldboy", perhaps) or any other infamous Cat-III film ever released were as sadistic and brutal as some of the events depicted in "Dog Bite Dog". Pang is a young and ruthless Cambodian assassin who lands in the crowded streets of Hong Kong to eliminate the wife of an eminent judge in a restaurant. When the police arrives at the place, young officer Wai sees how Pang hastily flees from the scene of the crime and follow him. The first actual confrontation between the two rabid dogs results in a gigantic blood bath, as Pang mercilessly kills several hostages and even Wai's long time friend and colleague. From then on begins a thrilling and action-packed cat and mouse game between the frustrated cop and the professional killer. The latter also saves a young girl from the constant sexual abuse of her father and stays with her at her shed in the local garbage dump. What makes this routine action/thriller so fascinating (apart from the explicit violence) are the main characters' backgrounds! Pang, the hit-man, is a Cambodian orphan and has been trained to fight & kill for money ever since he was a child. He knows no restrictions, has no mercy and barely speaks a word. Wai, the cop, became particularly ruthless and unorthodox ever since his role-model father (also a cop) lies in a coma after a drug-related incident. Lai doesn't question suspects and witnesses; he yells at them and he's prepared to sacrifice everything in order to stop his brand new nemesis. People with a weak stomach or tangled nerves are advised to stay away from this film, because the cruelty and shocks featuring in "Dog Bite Dog" can easily cause nausea. It's not the type of violence where bloodied heads and chopped off limbs fly through the air, but more like the intense and utterly disturbing type where people attempt to crush their opponents mentally as well as physically. The filming locations are effectively dark and eerie and the extremely sober music makes the already harrowing tone of the movie even more petrifying. The performances are terrific! I wouldn't be surprised if Edison Chen and Sam Lee treated each other like enemies on the film set as well, because their on screen hatred and disgust feels a little too legitimate. "Dog Bite Dog" is a powerful and unforgettable film, highly recommended if you can stomach it. If you fear you can't, just wait a few years for the inevitable American remake which will unquestionably soften the premise a little.
Violent Noir of a Certain Pedigree
Finally we have before us a Category III movie for the summer 2006 season. Made of equal parts cruelty, crime and passion, Dog Bite Dog benefits not merely from an apt title, but also flexible direction, superb cinematography and respectable performances from most involved. Of course there has to be a catch, manifested here in the form of several glaring inconsistencies, yet all told DBD represents the mature spirit we'd love to see more of in the HK mainstream.
It also marks the heralded return of Edison Chen, long absent since the Initial D debacle of a year ago. Chen's reserved machismo does wonders for the movie, yet would have had it rough without opposite Sam Lee, whose knack for alternating between physical comedy (Crazy 'N' the City, No Problem 2) and lunatic menace has culminated in the strongest role we've seen from him since Made in Hong Kong.
Together, the duo makes Dog Bite Dog, and hopefully Edison's going to get an easier break from now on as a consequence: his touch transformed projects from Princess D to the Infernal Affairs saga, and still he remains a rare occurrence.
Mostly upon commencing, DBD showcases some mesmerizing imagery, playing gorgeous tricks with light, shadow and perspective. The soundtrack boosts this atmospheric effect, adding to the overall unreal mood the film purveys. Much of the resultant combination probably has to do with writer Matt Chow, previously engaged in likewise gruesome Three Extremes. Dog Bite Dog retains numerous traits recalled from that horror project, namely rundown urbanscapes and a pervasive air of something eerie lurking round the corner.
Rest assured, though, this isn't a horror movie, instead following a path trodden before by classic One Nite in Mongkok, albeit from a miles more perverse angle. Replacing Daniel Wu's reluctant mainland assassin character we have Edison, playing a nameless killing machine hailing from Cambodia's underworld. Sent Hong Kong-way to execute a single target, the nearly silent assassin takes care of business immediately upon arrival, a process chillingly depicted courtesy of the film's brilliant visuals.
Although weaned from childhood to become a professional killer, Edison's eponymous wild dog still has human weaknesses and leaves a trail, picked up on by a CID team sent to investigate. This assembly features a nice cameo by mob-movie stalwart Lam Suet, and good support from TV star Wayne Lai. However, Sam Lee's renegade officer Wai leads the charge, revealing himself to be a highly disturbed individual but excellent cop nonetheless. We gradually learn Wai's inner-conflict stems from his father's police corruption background, evoking demons handy in the relentless pursuit that ensues.
A minor body count transpires, as Edison seems to consider taking prisoners a no-no. There's quite the violence quotient in store, even though gore per se feels toned down in places, and adult language only makes a token appearance. Once more, no nudity, leading one to conclude Cat III's are being handed these days a bit hastily. Still, DBD's a relatively mature theatrical release, and we applaud its arrival.
In between the fighting, stabbing , hacking and shooting, even a career murderer needs some romance, and just like Daniel Wu had Cecilia Cheung in One Nite, so does intrepid Mr. Chen get a sweetheart, done beautifully by new comer Pei Pei. Her unnamed character (lots of anonymity in this one) meets Edison's at a strangely deserted landfill, abused by her father to the point of repulsive madness and yearning for escape. When the killer ditches HK, he agrees to take her with him, and they go on the run together, love blooming en route. While the movie doesn't linger on lovey-dovey stuff, our hearts go out to Pei Pei's tragic character and her endless suffering. She renders the timid but valiant protagonist amazingly well, establishing that there aren't any good or bad guys here, evinced by the highly sobering finale.
Director Cheang Soi's portfolio includes recent suspense thriller Home Sweet Home and Love Battlefield with Eason Chan, two numbers likely surpassed in most accounts by Dog Bite Dog's sinister demeanor. Cheang manages to keep DBD flowing throughout, and considering the many parts in play here, stands up to critical standards erected by people like Johnny To in his watershed nocturnal epic The Mission. A couple of glitches do come about, to wit Edison miraculously shrugging off a shot to the chest, but these are highly forgivable.
Marking triumphant returns for two young, talented performers of the kind Hong Kong needs if we want the city's movie heyday to come back, Dog Bite Dog doesn't stand out for story. Its forte lies in strong portrayals and style, buoyed along on the strength of thespian muscle and a keen eye for visual and auditory finesse.
HK has a long, time-honored tradition of stories to do with the city's nighttime alter-ego, something Dog Bite Dog upholds lovingly, amounting to a solid run if not an outright masterpiece.
Rating: * * * *