Year of the Dogs (1997)

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Released 24-Apr-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Featurette-War Without Weapons
Featurette-Football Grand Final 1968
Featurette-Introducing Australian Football
Featurette-High Mark
Trailer-The Club, The Great Macarthy, Don's Party, Long Weekend
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 85:56
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Cordell
Stewart Young

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Alan Joyce
Tony Liberatore
Stephen Wallis
Terry Wallace
Chris Grant
Pat Hodgson
Jenny Hodgson
Peter Gordon
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Scott Saunders

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Year Of The Dogs is not a Hong Kong-style film revolving around a year of the Chinese calendar, but is rather a warts and all look at the goings on of the battling Footscray Football Club in the Australian Football League during season 1996.

    Anyone who is familiar with football in Australia will know that from 1987, the old Victorian Football League (VFL) went through a period of expansion, embracing a national competition, and allowing several clubs from around the country to enter the soon-to-be-named AFL. These clubs included the likes of Perth's West Coast Eagles, Brisbane and two teams from Adelaide. The existing Melbourne VFL clubs were all part of this new competition, but were told they would need to remain financially viable in order to stay in the league.

    The old VFL (now AFL) teams based in Victoria can be divided into two distinct groups. There are the powerful and successful clubs, boasting huge memberships, huge sponsorships and star players. The likes of Essendon, Hawthorn and the Collingwood Magpies are among this group (though in the 'Pies case it could be argued about the success part). In the other group are the less powerful, nearly broke and not as successful clubs. The likes of St Kilda, Melbourne, Footscray and North Melbourne fall into this category (though North dispel the lack of success by having won a couple of flags in the last dozen years with almost no money and very few supporters).

    Year Of The Dogs is a docudrama about one of these struggling clubs - Footscray, or as they are now known in the league The Western Bulldogs. The Bullies haven't won a flag since 1954 and the AFL is often accused of trying to kill them off for the sake of the national competition. The film is told from the viewpoint of various people involved with the club, including the coach Alan Joyce, several of the players including Tony Liberatore and captain Stephen Wallis, the club president Peter Gordon, and two passionate fans from the western suburbs, mother and daughter pair Jenny and Pat Hodgson. They all witness the journey the club takes during 1996, from the opening bounce of the season to the final game in round 22, including the usual financial problems, a health scare for a rookie player, and one of the worst starts to a season ever recorded by the club. This poor on-field effort leads to the early resignation of the coach and the appointment of assistant Terry Wallace to the job for the remainder of the season.

    This is an honest look at a club that seems in perpetual crisis. They were almost forced to merge with fellow struggler Fitzroy in 1989 and have been on the verge of financial collapse ever since, rarely making the finals and consistently recording one of the lowest memberships of all the 16 teams in the league. Season 1996 contained plenty of lows amongst a few highs, and the cameras were there to capture it all. The club still battles on against the odds and fans of the Bulldogs will love this film, while any passionate Aussie rules fan will also find plenty here to interest them.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    While not the sharpest of transfers, it is adequate enough, but certainly not in the category of something more modern. Shadow detail is handled well and is probably the best aspect of the transfer, as there are many scenes where this could be compromised. Grain is thankfully not an issue and there is no low level noise.

    Colours are quite good, especially on game day with the bright footy guernseys and supporter's garb on display. Skin tones hold up reasonably well.

    There are no compression artefacts, but some mild aliasing does pop up a couple of times.

    There are no subtitles available.

    This disc is dual layered with the layer change occurring at 63:26.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is a fairly basic audio selection on this disc. We get an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack as the only option.

    Dialogue is predominately what this soundtrack is all about with this being a documentary. This is handled well with no obvious problems. There are also no audio sync issues.

    There is a score present, and it really is a corker, with it sounding like a brass band in general and a rather large tuba in particular handling most of the rousing beat. The main theme starts at the opening credits and is played often throughout the film and really does lend itself well to the action.

    There is no surround or subwoofer use at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

Featurette - War Without Weapons

    This 1979 production is like a mini version of Year Of The Dogs. Running for 25:26 it follows the build up to the first game of the season for the North Melbourne Football Club and their "super coach" Ron Barassi. A good snap shot of a time when the Aussie Rules landscape was much simpler.

Featurette - Grand Final Highlights Doco

        4:53 of highlights from the 1968 VFL grand final between Richmond and Geelong.

Featurette - Introducing Australian Football

    Running for a decent 22:12, this is an excellent overview and explanation of the great Australian game, using the 1973 VFL grand final between Richmond and Carlton as the backdrop. Even though it was made in the early 70s and some of the rules and skills have changed, the basics are the same so anyone needing an introduction to the game should have a look at this.

Featurette - High Mark

    Running for 8:56, this is a newsreel style programme that shows footage from the 1947 VFL grand final between Carlton and Essendon. The narration takes a beginner's point of view and explains the game in very basic detail.


    Trailers for the other titles in The Aussie Rules Collection, The Club (2:54) and The Great Macarthy (3:35), plus Don's Party (1:48) and Long Weekend (1:58).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is not available in Region 1.


    Year Of The Dogs is an excellent fly-on-the-wall style docudrama showing the battle faced by the Footscray Football Club both on and off the field during the 1996 AFL season. It is a must-own for any Footscray (now Western Bulldogs) fan and Aussie rules fan in general.

    The video, while not sporting an anamorphic transfer, is still quite good, while the audio is serviceable.

    The extras are not related to the actual doco, but are a good mix of Aussie rules football extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, October 14, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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