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DVD Review

DVD cover

God Man Dog


Starring: Tarcy Su, Jack Kao, Jonathan Chang, Han Chang
Terracotta Distribution
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 10 August 2009

The world is a random collection of gods, men and dogs, though this randomness will often connect disparate lives in unexpected ways. Yellow Bull drives his truck full of gods across the country, but cannot afford to replace his prosthetic leg, along the way he collects waifs and strays, the disposed like the boy who lives by entering eating competitions. Biung is an alcoholic aborigine, who is desperate to remain sober so that he can have his children back, only to find that the peaches which he transports are afforded more value than he is. Qing Qing is a hand model who falls into depression and paranoia when she loses her child. Sometimes life has a pattern and the fatal car crash which brings these characters together offers the hope of redemption...

God Man Dog (2007 - 1 hr, 58 min, 56 sec) is an ensemble piece directed by Singing Chen, who co-wrote the script with Yi-an Lou. Jack Kao was nominated in the 2008 Asian Film Awards for best actor. Cinematography is by Ko-shang Shen. The film stars Tarcy Su, Jack Kao and Jonathan Chang.

There have been many similar films produced in this way including Crash (2004), often these films use this multi-layers format to examine society. In the case of God Man Dog the examination is between faith and the randomness of life, as represented by the numerous dogs which wander across the narratives visual terrain, until they come together following a crash caused by another stray dog.

Each of the mini stories have their strengths and weaknesses, the most disturbing of which involves Ching. Following the cot death of her child Qing Qing finds herself increasingly isolated from her architect husband, whose concentration is always on his work. Even when he takes her away to spend quality time, he is constantly on the phone. Without his support and understanding the relationship becomes increasingly strained. It is at breaking point when the accident happens.

Yellow Bull drives his bizarre lorry across country. The lorry has a perspex trailer full of gods which Bull drives to various festivals hoping to make enough money to replace his aging false leg. Although not blest in life he non-the-less has a great faith in his gods, rescuing and repairing the various statues he comes across. This rescuing extends to his fellow man, from giving girls rides to keep them safe and being ripped off in the process to befriending a boy, Ah Xian, who feels that he matters so little in life that he is a living ghost.

Biung, meanwhile is trying to quit drinking with the help of god. Having had his children removed from him his only chance to get them back is remain sober, but he is a man of little worth and he knows it. His daughter aspires to become a famous kickboxer, but finds herself in cahoots with an actress friend to pose as Lolita prostitutes in order to rob their clients.

All these stories are brought closer together by the crash. The crash, although a random act, has powerful consequences for many, but not all of them. Chen is not really interested in resolving all the storylines, nor making them match up perfectly, this in itself would negate the premise of the film that gods can ordain, men can change, but a lot of life is just random.

The acting throughout the film is pretty convincing with an especially nice performance from Lack Kao.

The film has a choice of either a Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 audio tracks with optional English subtitles. For a relatively unknown import, the DVD has a pretty good selection of extras, starting with cast interviews with Tarcy Su, Qing Qing (6 min, 07 sec), who talks about her character and how she approached the role and Jonathan Yang, Ah Xian (4 min, 22 sec), who produces a similar interview.

There is some footage from the Berlin International Film Festival (2 min, 03 sec) which is shot in reportage style, with the cast and crew wandering around commenting on what is happening. There a quick look at the storyboards (3 min, 55 sec) this piece is set to music with no commentary, a Stills Gallery (8 min, 15 sec) with shots from the film and behind the scenes. The last small featurette is on the special effects (1 min, 40 sec) which looks at how they used green screen to cut off Bull’s leg. If that was not enough then there is a whole load more extras for the film at for free.

There will be some who are not happy that all the story threads don’t interact more with each other, or that in some cases there is not a clear resolution, but in truth this is the heart of the film. It's not perfect, but there are some fine performances and some flashes of genius from both the director and cinematographer.


Charles Packer

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