Dogs Of Chinatown

A Film by Micah Moore

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Dogs Of Chinatown in IMPACT Magazine

December 29th, 2008 · No Comments


Written & Directed by: Micah Moore
Stunt/Fight Choreography: Eric Jacobus & Ray Carbonel
Starring: Eric Jacobus, Huyen Thi & Ray Carbonel

American independent action cinema seems to be going from strength to strength. With the likes of Contour, Broken Path and pretty much anything Isaac Florentine does (Undisputed 2), the scene shows that a little money and a lot of heart and talent can make a small movie big. Dogs of Chinatown can be added to this elite group as it not only delivers top notch action but takes the independent action film to new and successful stylistic heights. Micah Moore’s flick is one part Sin City styling, one part gangster drama and one part full blooded martial arts that all adds up to a striking and entertaining whole.

Contour’s Eric Jacobus stars as Jack, a down on his luck dude who thinking of ending his own life one night, steps into a mob hit and saves the life of a young woman, Jin (Thi). She turns out to be the mistress of a local Chinese kingpin who is impressed with Jack’s nerve and people killing skills. He offers Jack a position in his ‘family’ sending him to train in the arts of martial, war and murder. Adapting to his new lifestyle with vigour, Jack becomes an elite killing machine but cannot stop his growing feelings for Jin. Soon the two are lovers and torn between his loyalty to his new ‘family’ and that of his woman, Jack sets out on a deadly course of action which will see the city’s gangs turning violently against one another and Jack and Jin fighting for their freedom and lives.

Dogs of Chinatown is first and foremost bursting with style and creativity. The often colourful, comic book vibrancy sets the tone from the get go, letting you know this is no run-of-the-mill action flick. Colours, backgrounds and even actors are often bursting with colour with the surroundings often heightened to make them standout. Blue rain, black and white scenes, light reflecting of characters all fuse into a vibrant palette that help to heighten the comic book and ultra violent nature of the film. Moore and his crew take a risky step using this technique but it works wonderfully giving the film a feel all of its own. The film is also violent in nature keeping in with the tone of warring gangsters meaning blood is spilt, there is a fair bit of nudity and you really feel it when characters are killed. Mercifully, there is a sense of humour, proceedings never taking themselves too seriously. Most of the comic relief comes from Jack’s trainer, Wei (Brian Lee) who, often drunk, has some great one liners especially when it comes to picking up women.

The cast are universally good, the leads really carrying the picture. Jacobus has proved with Contour he can cut it as a leading man, hitting comedy and action beats in equal measure, but gets the chance to act serious here. He pulls it off, never going too intense but showing he can act in between kicking people’s asses. His chemistry with Huyen Thi works well, the two making a believable couple. There is also fine support from Rudy Chu as the Chinese mob boss and Brian Lee as Jack’s trainer, who manages to switch from drunken comedy clown to kick ass fighter with ease. Ray Carbonel, another alumnus from Contour, also gets the chance to cut loose in the acting department as a seriously nasty character called The General. Good to see him getting more lines this time.

But with the cool styling and violent tone, does the action still deliver? It does, in a series of brutal one-on-one fights and several scenes of hard hitting gunplay. Choreographed by Jacobus and Carbonel (The Stunt People) the action is fluid, fast and focused. Shot wide, we get to see the moves, the hits and the takedowns with Jacobus and Carbonel going toe-to-toe in one fantastic scene. The fights aren’t as big and as intricate as say, Contour, but fit in with the tone of the film, an early fight in a restaurant setting the brutal nature of the fights. The only (minor) complaint is, there could have been just a few more but otherwise Dogs of Chinatown delivers great western styled, Hong Kong influenced action.

Dogs of Chinatown may not be an action film for everyone as its tone and style are quite different from most action films. But this is also to its benefit as it sets itself apart from the crowd successfully with its unique take on an old story all the while delivering blistering fights and action. Another success for The Stunt People and a great first feature for Moore and his crew. Unique, stylish and action soaked, Dogs of Chinatown proves that the right people with the right mindset can create something great when the passion and determination is there. If you are disappointed at all with recent efforts from the big budget Hollywood machine then check out Dogs of Chinatown. Let’s hope it gets an official release soon.

The Impact Magazine article was written by Andrew Skeates who also runs the Cool Target blog that reviews action films (new and old). You can check that out here.

Impact Magazine is one of the biggest and best magazines in the world that cover action films. You can visit their site here.

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