Dog Bite Dog
Directed by Cheang Pou-Soi
Written by Matt Chow, Szeto Kam-Yuen, Melvin Li
Starring Edison Chen, Sam Lee, Cheung Siu-Fai, Lam Suet
The Weinstein Company/Dragon Dynasty
On sale: October 23, 2007
After a savage assassin named Pang (Edison Chen) enters illegally into Hong Kong and hits his target, the police respond with equal savagery as they tear into the night to find him once they realize that he is a Cambodian that has been raised to do nothing by fight and kill for his very survival. On the team is Inspector Ti (Sam Lee), who makes the case personal and focuses his very being on catching the assassin after an initial negotiation attempt turns deadly.
As the manhunt continues, and with each time the assassin successfully alludes capture, the police resort to rash unprofessional means to capture him that border on criminal. Ti himself becomes an animal as he bursts through the most seedy and disgusting shadows of Hong Kong trying to find information and pummeling anyone who might have some information. When he finally reaches his target, after witnessing his fellow officers murdered, Ti and Pang make their shocking and jaw-dropping last stand that could only be “made in Hong Kong.”
The former British colony is drenched in grime, dragged through the sewer, and thrown in the trash for the dogs to pick over as fists and feet meet their mark, innocent civilians are gunned down, immigrants are held hostage, and hospital patients are used as bait. And that is just what the cops do! Sam Lee, who is mostly known for his rather goofy takes on cops or triad members acting tenure, completely abandons any sense of humanity as he immerses himself in a down n’ dirty role that might make Harvey Keitel or even Clint Eastwood give pause. Edison Chen, best known internationally as the young Officer Lau in the Infernal Affairs trilogy, transforms himself into a snarling human that only knows pain and death.
What makes the film so engaging, beyond the surface level scads of vicious violence, is just how much the two characters are a reflection of each other. As the film progresses, Pang finds a sliver of humanity within himself, when he instinctively becomes the protector of a young woman while on the run in Hong Kong. On the other hand, Ti becomes increasingly enraged and beast-like as he engages what he perceives to be his pray. Each character is given an in-depth study via flashbacks and interactions with others to show where they originate from, which is essential to making the movie work. This is especially crucial on the part of Pang, as the film makes a sneaky political statement on the inhuman exploitation of children and desperate men taking place in Southeast Asia’s poorest countries.
Director Cheang Pou-Soi, who cut his teeth on production units for Johnnie To’s Milkway Images before churning out a few horror-comedies in the early 2000s, brings the know how of grit and the subtle use of a good camera filter from his former boss to wash Hong Kong in a very ugly light. He also brings in a few familiar faces from Milkyway, including one of the most unappreciated actors in Hong Kong, Sam Luet, and works from a screenplay from one of Milkway’s veterans. For Cheang’s first solo outing dealing with the raw energy and blemishes of Hong Kong (several scenes take place on a three-story-high mountain of garbage) that make crime movie fans smile with glee, he successfully taps into the current and lets it smoke. He unleashes one tense stand-off after another, that each build to a more explosive boiling point which leaves only the destruction of lives in the wake. But for all of the misery and suffering that scrawls across the screen, there is a message of hope and redemption to be found growing between the cracks.
The Weinstein Company, via their Dragon Dynasty genre label, gives Dog Bite Dog the full special edition treatment. The movie is presented uncut and in anamorphic widescreen. The original Cantonese audio is included in both DTS and Dolby Digital, and includes excellent English subtitles. An English dub is also included, but it is ridiculously filled with additional profanity and changes what many of characters are saying, and in the process changes the tone of the film (avoid it if at all possible). The movie is also accompanied by an audio commentary track with superstar Hong Kong expert Bey Logan and actor Edison Chen, and both speak English for the duration of the entertaining track. Listen well to Logan, for he is your sifu, and will gladly teach you all you need on your journey through Eastern cinema.
Disc Two includes a boatload of fine extras. Edison Chen, Sam Lee, Lam Suet, and Cheang Pou-Soi all receive their own solo interviews and provide insight on their feelings for the material. The “Dog Bite Dog Explored” featurette takes you behind the scenes for a look at the making of. A U.S. promotional trailer, as well as several previews for other Dragon Dynasty releases, finishes out the extras.