Top Dog (1995)
Chuck Norris’ career goes to the dogs
What do you get when you team up man’s best friend with the ultimate man? You get one of the most hilarious, action-packed films this reviewer has ever seen. Chuck Norris’ film career goes to the dogs and comes up richer for it in this week’s selection, Top Dog.
In Top Dog, Norris plays officer Jake Wilder, currently serving a suspension for being a bit of a maverick. Wilder gets called back for duty when a fellow policeman is gunned down. While he is used to working alone, Wilder is saddled with the partner of the deceased officer upon his return. You’ve probably gathered by now that Wilder’s new partner is a dog.
Reno is a crime fighting canine extraordinaire, who quickly wreaks havoc on Wilder’s life. While they may not be the best of friends, they work well together. They manage to tie the aforementioned cop killing to a white supremacist group that is planning to blow up several important buildings and people in the San Diego area. This all leads to a thrilling finale at a racial unity rally where Wilder and Reno must save the life of the Pope!
If a movie has one scene that really sticks with you, I would consider it a winner. Well, this film contains two scenes that I’ll be thinking about until the day I die. One sees the heroic Reno rushing into a burning building to save a baby. I’ll never forget the image of that dog carrying the blanketed infant from amidst the flames.
The other memorable scene sees Norris battling one of the white supremacist group members, who is disguised as a circus performer. Needless to say, that clown with a swastika tattooed on his arm receives more than his fair share of roundhouse kicks.
I cannot say enough about the performances of lead actors Reno the dog and Chuck Norris. Both are tough as nails, but deep down, very likeable. Reno’s bark is certainly worse than his bite. The same cannot be said for Norris, however. You do not, under any circumstances want to be bitten by Chuck, as the results would be fatal.
I’d also like to give kudos to Aaron Norris, brother of Chuck. Aaron handled writing and directing duties for Top Dog. Aaron has directed Chuck in approximately 20 films, and numerous episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger. Due to their frequent collaboration together, they have been compared to the tandem of Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro. At least by me they have.
Now based on everything I have written so far, you are probably assuming that Top Dog was a box office hit. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The film, which focuses heavily on a terrorist organization that plans to detonate a bomb, had the misfortune of being released nine days after the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing. Needless to say, the film bombed in Oklahoma, earning only $300 in the entire state on opening night. Apparently there were 30 Chuck Norris fans in Oklahoma who just didn’t give a damn about current events. It’s truly unfortunate that the tragedy had to occur, both for obvious reasons, and for the fact that it robbed this film of any momentum. If it hadn’t happened, who knows? We could have been talking about Avatar challenging Top Dog for the title of highest grossing film of all time. Instead, Top Dog had to settle for being the forty-third highest grossing live action movie of all time about or starring dogs (according to boxofficemojo.com).
So if you are looking for a film that will give you the giggles, or one that is going to provide plenty of thrills, either way you certainly wouldn’t be barking up the wrong tree by grabbing yourself a copy of Top Dog.