A fight at the opera: the bits they really didn't need.
DOG BITE DOG (Hong Kong, 2006)
D: Soi Cheang Pou-soi
Bleak made chic, with hip nihilism taken to nearly laughable extremes, as grungy Cambodian assassin Edison Chen hits Hong Kong for a paid hit and is immediately pursued by tenacious cop Sam Lee across a dingy, trash-strewn city. The picture moves at a relentless clip, forgiving those moments where it slows down for Chen to "act," but the central message that men will revert to basic instinct in desperate times is nothing new, so the filmmakers make sure to blame bad daddies for good measure (or is it absentee mommies?). The metaphor is mercilessly pounded home by Silver Cheung's production design, which consists largely of spreading copious amounts of detritus and grime onto every location--as if having one major character live in a shanty on top of a garbage dump wasn't obvious enough--and cinematographer Edmund Fung, who bathes the festivities in a sickly yellow-green hue. Okay, we GET it! But just in case we don't get it, one setpiece fight between the grunting protagonists is augmented by dog growls. You see, they're all feral and stuff, so...ummm... But the worst is saved for last, a self-contained, thematically unneccessary and nigh-operatic blast of pretentious Cambodian slice 'n dice that could have saved all involved one hell of a lot of embarrassment had it been dropped entirely. Real life party boyz Lee and (especially) Chen look too young for these parts, and are surrounded by any number of actors who might have been better in their places. Of the two, Lee comes the closest to convincing, while Chen finally appears to have found the outer reaches of his limited talents, and it was a very short search.