Services like Netflix and YouTube have made the most recent films readily available to anyone. Can we find anything of value in the muck of b-movies, ambitious failures and exploitative crap-fests? We’re going to find out in Dispatches from Instant View Purgatory.
What’re we watching: “Top Dog,” the 1994 tale of Chuck Norris and his canine partner singlehandedly defeating racism.
What does it look like: It’s like Walker, Texas Ranger. With a dog. And explosions.
What’s going on: Detective Swanson and his dog, Rino, stumble onto a terrorist plot by a criminal hate group that hopes to link all the United States hate groups together. The racists shoot the aging detective and the dog in the face. I am not making this up. Rino somehow survives and the police team him up with a renegade cop, played by Chuck Norris, to stop the plot. I am still not making this up.
Why haven’t we heard of this: How familiar are you with Chuck Norris’ filmography?
What works: You like explosions, right? There are lots of explosions. They’re, like, BOOM, BOOM. It’s super cool, right?
What doesn’t: “Top Dog” is desperately trying to be a movie for all ages. There are goofy dog reaction shots and a precocious moppet for the kids, lots of kung-fu and gun fighting for the teens and a bunch of speeches about rape and murder for the adults. Who wouldn’t want to bring the whole family for that?
Skip to: Most of the best scenes involve people saying the dumbest lines imaginable in the most serious tones possible. Lines like “hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go,” “someone kill that dog” and “I’m going to blow your damn head off” are some of the best examples.
The Verdict: There’s nothing special about “Top Dog,” but there’s nothing too terrible about it. It’s exactly what you expect, full of action and dialogue that takes itself too seriously, despite a dumb premise. If everything wasn’t so deadpan, it would almost feel like a parody in the vein of “Hot Fuzz.”
What’s coming up next: Jason Statham is one of the most well respected names in action today. It seems crazy that “Blitz,” a 2010 British thriller would have slipped by the American public. Let’s see if there’s a reason why it fell by the wayside.