What ldh has recently...
. Try to borrow this dvd
. Comment on this review
. Check reviews on
With the renaissance of Hong Kong cinema's gritty crime thrillers under way over the past 3 years or so, Dog Bite Dog (2006) marks a distinct step up in the genre in terms of the material covered, and the violence on display. Rated as a Category III film (equivalent to somewhere between R and NC-17 in the US), which a movie like Protege (2007) which contains its share of gruesome scenes did not even receive, this film reaches levels of despair and nihilism that must be very foreign to the Asian audience which typically can find salvation in its movie characters in spite of all their faults: in all the violence and killing, there seems to always be a glimmer of hope, whether it be love or compassion from an unlikely bad guy, to the selfless sacrifice of the hero. Here, there is really little to be saved, or hope to be had, and the ending will certainly either mark you with its intensity, or feel too melodramatic for you to accept it. But, in the context of Hong Kong story telling, it feels, at least to me, as a very different kind of film, full of the traditional action and violence only Hong Kong can deliver, but without heroism or redemption that often characterize such films. This could be a turn off for some.
Pang (Edison Chen) is a human animal, raised since he was a young kid to fend for himself at all cost in the Cambodian underworld. Besides doing whatever he has to do to survive, and being very good at it, he has no conscience or any respect for life. Give him some cash, and the picture of someone to take down, and he'll get the job done. Opposite is Wai (Sam Lee), an equally messed up kid on the "good" side of the law this time. Prone to bouts of extreme violence, and with a dark past involving his father, a crooked Police officer, he is nevertheless an astute policeman on the field. Of course, the two men cross paths and sparks fly until a definitive confrontation.
The characters are rich and complex, and very well acted. The cinematography and art direction are very good, and the action scenes are as good as any Hong Kong has produced. The film's brutal and dark side is quite unique, but at the same time, brings some realism and intensity that is arresting.
Although different in terms of its denouement and general outlook on life, the film definitly inscribes itself in the same lineage as other recent Hong Kong favorites such as PTU (2003), One Night In Mongkok (2004), Divergence (2005), Election 1 (2005) and Election 2 (2006), SPL: Saat Po Long (2005), Exiled (2006) or Protege (2007). All those films are part of a new wave of gritty crime thrillers with a breadth and depth of character development and action that should satisfy anyone who got originally caught up in this genre when it exploded through the 90's. Even if those new films are more polished, just because of budget increases, the common themes of Hong Kong cinema, and the unique execution that the production teams from there bring to the table, are all over all those films.
- Laurent Hasson