MPI // 2006 // 102 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 18th, 2009
How much greed and hunger does it take for any dog to stay alive?
Two Colombian gangsters decide to swindle their psychotic mob boss -- with predictable results.
Victor and Eusebio are two foot soldiers for the fearsome El Orejon, an agoraphobic, powerful gangster who runs his criminal empire from a high-rise penthouse and enjoys sneering a lot. While on an interrogation mission, Victor and Eusebio end up screwing themselves over when they kill Orejon's godson and swipe the Big Boss's cash.
Obviously, this doesn't sit well with the highers-up, and the two go on the run; dodging murder attempts, voodoo curses, disturbing hallucinations, and ultimately each other.
Interesting film. The typical clichés for a crime flick apply here: gritty, dark, realistic, violent. Also, I'd be willing to entertain the Tarantino comparisons.
Unfortunately, this thing is just way too slow-moving to rise to the top in the entertainment consciousness. The bulk of Dog Eat Dog finds Victor and Eusebio hiding out in a motel room. No exaggeration. The "grimy motel" set is easily the most visible during the runtime. Lots of character development and a few freaky dreams transpire, but not much action. Actually, there's barely any action at all, except for a gun-toting finale that is all too brief to earn Dog Eat Dog consideration as an action movie.
No, this is a straight-up crime drama, anchored by betrayals, plot twists, and colorful characterizations of Colombian criminals. Though I was drifting off here and there I will give Dog Eat Dog this much: it gave me a world, populated by eccentrics, I had never seen before. The recluse crimelord? Cool. Victor and Eusebio? Far more emotionally nuanced than you'd think a pair of thugs would be.
What prompts their descent into self-doubt and backstabbing is, of course, greed. This isn't a novel concept of course, but it's used well here and the effect the double-cross has on the two main guys makes for an interesting plot progression. Also, the earthy and -- wait for it -- gritty cinematography is particularly awesome.
I just have to come back to the methodical pacing, which ultimately douses my enthusiasm with a nice, large bucket of Gatorade. For all the hot water our two main characters find themselves in, not a whole lot happens for about 45 minutes; and from that point on it's a slog to the finale, where only meager action lies.
The DVD is all presentation and no extras: a solid 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and subtitled 5.1 Spanish mix is all you get.
The high points are overshadowed by a punishing lack of locomotion. Pass.
Keep this Dog in the kennel for a little while longer.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated