Review: “Savage Dog” Lives Up to its Title (the “Savage” Part at Least, There’s No Actual Dog)

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Scott Adkins about to execute another poor stand-in.

Kevin: A few weeks ago I discussed my excitement over the fact that the upcoming action film “Triple Threat” gathers together an All-Star team of the best martial arts stars working today, including Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Iko Uwais, and Tony Jaa. My only concern was that I had no prior exposure to the work of stuntman-turned-director Jesse V. Johnson, but after seeing his latest film “Savage Dog” – also featuring Adkins – my anticipation level for “Triple Threat” has officially hit “Geostorm” territory:

In “Savage Dog” Adkins plays former boxer and IRA fighter Martin Tillman, now serving time in a prison camp in 1959 Indochina and forced into bare-knuckle brawls against other prisoners for money. Once released he briefly has a moment of peace working at a bar run by Keith David and wooing a local girl, but when he’s lured back into the ring and then double-crossed by his former captors he vows revenge.

And when I saw “vow” I mean that literally, as he basically promises God he’ll kill everyone who pissed him off in exchange for a favor, and apparently God is super cool with that. I’m not sure if this Biblical aspect was originally part of the story or if they just added that in the narration later, but hey when you have Keith David narrating your movie you might as well go epic. At one point David also says Tillman will “quench with death those responsible,” a phrase I now actively want to employ in my own life as much as possible.

While the first half of “Savage Dog” looks like it’s shaping up to be another “Hard Times”/“Lionheart”/“Blood and Bone”-type movie about underground fighters, the second half features some absolutely insane John Woo-level carnage as Adkins go on a bloody rampage of revenge. David opens the movie intoning about the “legend” of Martin Tillman, with the overall moral of said legend apparently being “do not fuck with this guy!” Bullets, limbs, and even heads all go flying, as Adkins is equally adept at dealing out punishment with guns, blades, and just his fists.

He also gets to show off his physical agility and martial arts skills in a number of well-choreographed fights, including a climactic duel against Chilean martial artist Marko Zaror. Actually “Savage Dog” should be seen just for the WTF Hannibal Lector-style move Adkins eventually finishes Zaror off with. I wouldn’t dare give it away here, but the fact that it comes completely out of nowhere makes it even more hilariously awesome. Zaror’s character sure as hell deserves it though, since he’s the kind of douche who constantly tells his unarmed opponents that they are evenly matched, before pulling out the biggest damn blade I’ve ever seen.

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Yeah other than that it’s totally a fair fight.

So if you have not yet boarded the Scott Adkins train this is as good an opportunity as any. Plus it’s nice to finally see a movie where the hero gets sick of fighting his opponent and just shoots him with the nearest gun available.

“Savage Dog” is currently available on iTunes and Amazon. 

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