Top Dog (1995)

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Released 1-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 89:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Aaron Norris

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Chuck Norris
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Hummie Mann

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown 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

    How many "tough cop forced to partner a dog" movies can you remember? Let's see: Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks, K9 (and its sequel K911) with James Belushi - they come to mind quite quickly. What about Top Dog with Chuck Norris? No? Me, neither. I suspect that this one wasn't released in cinemas here in Australia. According to the IMDB, it cost $6 million to make, and recouped $5 million.

    That's not necessarily bad, but this movie is. The director (Aaron Norris - Chuck's brother) could not decide if he was making a comedy, an action movie, or something else. In the end, it comes off as a comedy that's not funny, and an action movie without good reasons for the action. There are huge plot holes, and the acting is not good enough to make you willing to forgive them. Even the special effects are of variable quality - there's a stunt where a car chasing a truck blows up, but we can clearly see that the truck is towing the empty car as it blows up - very poor editing. 

    Reno, the dog, loves jam doughnuts (or, in American vernacular: "jelly donuts"). We meet Reno just after we've heard two men discussing white supremacists, with slides (we never see these two men, and I think the director forgot about them). Reno works with a man we are supposed to believe is a working police officer. This officer is supposedly following two men back to a ship, which he then proceeds to enter (no search warrant) and search. He, and Reno, are shot and dumped overboard (we have seen Reno "playing dead" in the opening scene, so we're supposed to believe that that is what he is doing).

    We meet Jake Wilder (Chuck Norris) when he answers the phone in a long sequence which is probably meant to be funny. Hmm - I just noticed: the back cover calls him Jake Slater. Wasn't Arnold Schwartzenegger's character in Last Action Hero called Jack Slater? I think someone needs to check their proofs more carefully.

    Jake Wilder is a good cop on suspension (cliché), who is called off the suspension to investigate the murder of a cop (cliché), and assigned a new partner (cliché), who turns to be a dog (cliché). Turns out that the murder is because that cop found out something he shouldn't (cliché) about white supremacists (cliché) who have a big plot (cliché) to stage a mass assassination (cliché). Because Jake and Reno start to get too close (cliché), the bad guys send a team out to kill them (cliché), but never follow up... 

    I won't go on. I think you get the drift. I suspect this plot was not devised by a writer; I think it was produced using some sort of "plot-a-matic" device, similar to that used to turn out American soap opera, or perhaps it was the product of a very drunken brainstorming lunch.

    Might you enjoy this movie? Maybe, if you used it as the basis for a drinking competition: take a drink every time you see a hole in the plot. Please don't drive afterwards.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. I have not been able to discover the original aspect ratio.

    The image is quite sharp and clear, with good shadow detail. There's no edge enhancement. This is really annoying. Why does this movie get a good transfer when much worthier films do not?

    The colours are fine. They are not quite fully saturated, but there's nothing wrong with the colour fidelity.

    There are some artefacts, but none of them are annoying. Perhaps the most noticeable, and it is not very noticeable, is some aliasing on car door frames. 

    There are no subtitle tracks.

    The disc is single sided, single layer. No layer change.

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


    There is one soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 224 kbps.

    Dialogue is clear and generally easily understood; I saw no lapses in audio sync. There are a couple of spots where the level drops momentarily - not a complete drop-out, just a drop in volume.

    The score is by Hummie Mann. It is just as clichéd as the plot, but not offensive.

    The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0; no surrounds, no subwoofer. To be honest, I didn't notice much directionality even across the stereo speakers - it seemed to be pretty much a mono affair.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on this disc.


    The menu is static and silent, with two entries on it: play movie, and chapter selection. There are sixteen chapter stops. 

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 release is described as having the same features, except that it appears to have subtitles (this may be an error, as it is also listed as widescreen, despite being 1.33:1). I cannot, in good conscience, recommend either version. 


    Top Dog is a dreadful movie, blessed with a great transfer to DVD - there ain't no justice.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, September 03, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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