Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Assume for a moment that you’re driving down the street and you happen to bare witness the results of a horrific car crash. There’s blood and entrails everywhere, the families of the newly deceased are wailing in uncontrollable grief, the police are dutifully doing there jobs obviously affected by the carnage behind them and you have this awful, sickening, dead feeling in your gut that you just can’t shake. That emotion you would be feeling after witnessing that crash would be like attending you child’s first birthday party, after seeing Pau Soi Cheang’s brutal, brutal, brutal film ‘Dog bites Dog’. Brutal.

Chinese pop singer and poster boy hunk Edison Chen, which could probably be categorized as the most sudden career turn of all time, think Justin Timberlake doing Hannibal Lecter, portrays Pang – a Cambodian born hired killer on his way to China to do a job. Pang isn’t a smooth Antonio Bandares style killer though as he is practically sub-human in presentation and personality. Pang shows up at his assigned location, a rather posh restaurant, and looking as if he hasn’t bathed in months. He can’t read and can’t speak the language as is obvious by he his reaction to the waiter, but soon his mark enters the joint and he takes her out. Brutally, and leaving no doubt as to her expiration. The cops arrive on the scene minus one Officer Wai (Sam Lee) who is running late as usual and doesn’t really give a damn. The reason that Wai’s police chief tolerates his out of control officers behavior is first because he’s a good friend of his father who lies in a hospital in a coma, and second because Wai is a damn good cop. Simply through observation Wai is able to track down Pang from the restaurant and corner the killer, but a caged dog really doesn’t like being cornered and tragedy ensues in the form of more stark and sudden brutality.

Pang manages to escape and now Wai has completely dedicated himself to finding the killer and ending the bastards life. If there are bad cops out there, then Wai is the worst cop as he will do anything and abuse anyone to achieve and end to his means. While on the run Pang meets a pathetically abused young woman (Pie Weir Ying) and in between choking her and practically killing her, she proves herself someone he may want by his side and these severely damaged souls attempt to avoid the relentless Officer Wai and try to get off the island and back to Cambodia.

Look, I don’t want to spoil anything for you as far as this movie is concerned, but if you like your films to be happy with just a little bit of hope, then by all means don’t get this one. If you’re watching this film and find yourself getting attached to one particular character, don’t. If you’re contemplating suicide and want to watch something that confirms your substantial belief that society is screwed all to hell and the only end to our suffering is death, then have I got the movie for you. ‘Dog bites dog’ is so harsh, and so dark and so mean and brutal that I almost didn’t like it. Almost. Ultimately it was a bit much for me to take as it rolled around to the end, as I was kind of hoping it would have ended about twenty minutes before it actually did, but this is still such an amazing display of cinematic brutality that if you THINK you like these kinds of films, then you can’t miss this one. After seeing ‘Dog bites dog’ you may have THOUGHT you liked these kinds of films though.

Director Pou-Soi Cheang conducts his film crisply and clearly with a stark greenish hue in a lot of the scenes which adds to the uncomfortable and uneasiness of the atmosphere. He doesn’t leave an awful lot to the imagination though because every kill, every bullet hole, every drop of blood and caved in skull is on clear display. Edison Chen and Sam Lee were so good in their roles that I’m sure neither of those cats can stand each other in real life. Hopefully they’re not method actors because that would mean they were fighting every night long after the director yelled CUT! I thought they made the character of Pang far too indestructible as he almost turned into Jason Vorhees with practically the entire Hong Kong police department unable to stop him, and I also though the movie ran unnecessarily long, only to squeeze in some more brutality and hopelessness, but if you like hard movies you will find few harder than ‘Dog Bites Dog’. Good luck with this one if you choose watch it, and heaven have mercy on your soul.

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