Friday, 14 December 2018



In that same spirit of two or more big movies on the same theme just happening along at the same time independently of each other (Deep Impact and Armageddon, Antz and A Bug's Life, Dante's Peak and Volcano), 1989 gave us two buddy cop movies in which one of the partners was a dog. Neither K-9 nor Turner And Hooch were anything more than okay amusements, and the trend didn't go much further than that - so it's weird that a full six years later Chuck Norris did the same thing to almost no effect. Maybe he saw the Belushi or Hanks films on late night TV and decided that sort of thing would be his next project (despite the fact that Chuck Norris is the go-to guy for light comedy the way I'm the go-to guy for a Charleston.) Sadly, or perhaps not, it didn't work: the mixture of cute dog slapstick, Norris kicking scumbags in the head and white supremacy terrorist whackjobs simply never fits together.

Chuck Norris is a tough, no-nonsense cop in the Chuck Norris mould; for comedy reasons he's partnered with Reno, a dog who witnessed the murder of his former partner/handler and will recognise the killers if he sees them again. It's all down to a cabal of neo-Nazi racist maniacs planning a bombing spree in San Diego and they'll kill anyone, even dogs, cops or dog cops, who tries to stop them....

In the event the film's failure wasn't entirely their fault: Top Dog opened in the USA nine days after an actual terrorist bombing (Oklahoma City), although they could have pulled the release until a decent interval had passed, the way Arnie's meh terrorism thriller Collateral Damage was held back for several months after September 11. Even allowing for all that, however, it's still not very good: fans of vintage Norris knockabout like Missing In Action and (my favourite CN film) Lone Wolf McQuade will have to put up with the cutesy stuff and relatively bloodless action sequences. Like the Hanks and Belushi films, it's pleasant enough and generally harmless, but that's really not what you want from Chuck.


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