• Diamond Dogs (Sony Pictures) DVD Review

    Released by: Sony Pictures
    Released on: April 29th, 2008.
    Director: Shimon Dotan
    Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Nan Yu, Xue Zuren, William Shriver, Raicho Vasilev, NuoMin Hauri
    Year: 2007
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    Diamond Dogs - Movie Review:

    In Dolph Lundgren's Diamond Dogs the B action superstar plays a former American green beret named Xandar Ronson making a living in a a small city in China by competing in illegal underground fights and trying to run a small security business. He gets arrested and is told by the courts that he four weeks to pay off his $20,000.00 in debt and that if he doesn't, he'll go to jail. Enter a strange and effeminate rich guy named Chambers (William Shaver) who hires Ronson to lead his expedition to a remote area of the country to find a rare and extremely valuable Buddhist tapestry called the Tangka. Chambers offers Ronson $100,000.00 to take the job, and he agrees.

    What Chambers doesn't know is that a crafty Russian and his devious crew also want the Tangka. They offer to double Ronson's should he opt to work for them but he refuses and the mission continues as planned. As Chambers' crew makes their way through the treacherous territory, people start getting killed one by one. Is it a curse? Is it the evil Russians? Will Ronson live to find out?

    Dolph plays a fairly likeable type here. He's got a sense of humor about himself that makes him hard not to like and he seems to be having fun during the first chunk of the film. He also handles himself very well during the opening fight scene where he takes on a huge Mongolian dude (played by a Mongolian wrestling champion named Huriga). Once Chambers comes into the picture, however, things start to get hokey. Really, really hokey. Chambers is an irritating man and while we're not supposed to have any sympathy for this greedy 'money will buy me everything I want' type, it doesn't take long before he starts grating on our nerves. Considering he and Ronson are the only people in the film with any character development, this leaves Dolph to do all the heavy lifting in the acting department and while he's a pretty capable action hero and a better actor than a lot of people give him credit for, you wouldn't know that from this film.

    This would be perfectly forgivable if the action scenes delivered but sadly the film disappoints in this department to. The aforementioned opening fight scene is good and there are a couple of quality firefights in the last third of the picture but they're few and far between. Instead the film tries to work more as an adventure picture, an Indiana Jones type of quest movie, but the plot isn't interesting enough for that to work either.

    Dolph is solid in the lead but Diamond Dogs has too many slow spots and too few interesting characters or plot elements to compensate. There are a couple of fun moments in the film that will appease Dolph's fan base but they aren't enough to make this film work as well as it should have. That's a shame as Dolph's last few films were a lot of fun.

    Diamond Dogs - DVD Review:

    Diamond Dogs looks alright in the anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen presentation on this DVD despite the irritating presence of constant artificial grain that we can only assume was meant to make the movie look gritty. Color reproduction and skin tones look decent though a couple of scenes have been intentionally flattened a little bit for artistic effect. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or edge enhancement though diagonal lines tend to shimmer now and then. Reference quality? Nope. But the movie looks decent.

    The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix is pretty strong though the rear channels aren't used as frequently as you'd expect for a modern action movie. Dialogue is clean and clear and you won't have any problems understanding anyone. The levels are well balanced and the score and sound effects both sound quite strong. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The only Diamond Dogs related extra on the DVD is a featurette entitled The Making Of Diamond Dogs (3:35, fullframe). One of the associate producers narrates as we see the cast and crew working on location in inner Mongolia. He mentions wanting a 'gritty, documentary look' which explains the grain on the picture, and he covers some of the weather related problems they had on the shoot. Along the way we see some low quality and fairly blurry looking on set footage of Dolph and the crew doing their thing. You get the impression that Dolph is a very nice, friendly guy and this is actually an interesting featurette but it's fairly brief and it would have been nice to see an interview with Dolph himself.

    Sony has also included a wealth of trailers for other recent and upcoming DVD releases, static menus and chapter stops. This release also comes with a lenticular slipcase cover and a digital copy of the film should you want to watch it on your computer.

    Diamond Dogs - The Final Word:

    Diamond Dogs has few fun moments and Dolph fans will find it worth a watch but overall it's pretty generic and predictable and the fun moments don't overshadow the slower parts. The extras and the transfer aren't strong enough to make this one stand out, but you could do a lot worse.