The first 15 minutes of the crime thriller Dog Eat Dog is so boisterously, deliriously and violently over-the-top — part Tarantino, part Natural Born Killers, part what-the-heck-is-going-on — that the film earns some grudging respect simply for being so outrageous.
That Dog is directed by the once notable Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Hardcore, Blue Collar), stars Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe in enjoyable B-movie mode, and features a soundtrack that veers from classic hip-hop (Egyptian Lover’s Egypt, Egypt) to jazz (Cal Tjader) gives it an extra jolt of stylish energy. Unfortunately, though, Dog Eat Dog’s bite is not as deep as its bark.
Troy (Cage), Mad Dog (Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) are three low-life, ex-con friends on the lookout for one large, final score. They think they’ve found it when they’re approached about a babynapping scheme that could get them big bucks.
Of course, nothing goes as planned.
Written by Matthew Wilder and based on a pulp novel by actor Edward Bunker (he played Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs), Dog Eat Dog is at its best when it’s both strangely fascinating and repellant, leaving the viewer unsure of what’s coming next. But, like a fat tire with a nail, it loses air as it goes along and you’re just left hoping that Cage and Dafoe bought themselves something nice with their paychecks.
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Dog Eat Dog
☆☆ 1/2 (out of five)
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Willem DeFoe
Rated: Unrated (strong, bloody violence, strong language, nudity)
Running time: 93 min.