This title gets it half right. There certainly is a battle, but these creatures are most definitely not dogs!! BATTLEDOGS is another gem from The Asylum but it’s not (brace yourselves) a mockbuster. I know, right!! Another thing threw me off with this one. The Asylum has become known to throw in a few big names or big names from yesteryear, but BATTLEDOGS definitely tips the scales with stars. But the most surprising aspect of BATTLEDOGS is that it’s actually a lot of fun. Seriously!! I found myself really enjoying the hell out of this one.
The fun starts in a busy airport where Donna (Ariana Richards), a wildlife photographer, starts to act and look a little funny. It looks as though she’s having an anxiety or panic attack but when she goes to the restroom she has a full blown seizure and transforms into a rather large werewolf. I was really digging the creature design here in that it wasn’t a human-wolf hybrid. This was more like the wolf from AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. The Donna-wolf thing decides to take out her frustration on the entire airport and goes on a rampage swatting at people with her huge claws, ripping throats out, and chewing on a few heads. I took this for a metaphor for what airport traveling has become, but I think I was reading too much into it. This all sounds pretty standard so far, doesn’t it? But wait. The best part is that the people she bit and didn’t kill turn into werewolves within seconds. It was like 28 DAYS LATER with werewolves. And the people that turned were just as ferocious as Donna and they also went on killing sprees. When it was all said and done there were hundreds of infected people that are now werewolves.
The military and the CDC swoop in, quarantines the infected, and stop the virus/infection from getting out of the airport. All the infected are rounded up into a quarantine zone (think Guantanamo Bay without all the comforts) where doctors are trying to figure out what the hell is causing this sudden rash of werewolf-ism. I couldn’t help but feel a modern day social relevance to this aspect of the plot (of rounding up all the infected). But again, this is an Asylum flick so it’s better not to read too much into it. Craig Sheffer plays Major Hoffman who I believe is a military liaison for the CDC (it was never made clear). He’s determined to find the cause and help develop a cure to save all the infected. Hoffman’s superior officer, Lt. General Monning (Dennis Haysbert, the president from the first season of 24), has a secret agenda for these werewolves that’s revealed pretty early on (gee; do ya think he wants to use these werewolves as super soldiers?? What is it about seeing ferocious, completely untamable, uncontrollable werewolves that makes him think they’d be great weapons??). Monning’s boss, President Sheridan (Bill Duke of PREDATOR fame) seems about as effective as our current president at making decisions and makes things a whole lot worse.
Sheffer starts working closely with CDC scientist Dr. Gordon (Kate Vernon) to both try and save the infected and stop General Monning in his “fuck ‘em all” attitude in which he’ll stop at nothing to get his weapon. Oh yeah, you can also throw in Ernie Hudson as Sheffer’s buddy, Max Stevens, who helps him find the infection’s patient zero.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. We know that all Asylum flicks use CGI f/x. BATTLEDOGS is no exception. Every transformation into a werewolf is indeed CGI, but to be honest it didn’t really bother me. I expected it to be CGI. It’s like going to a Ryan Gosling flick and getting pissed off when he takes his shirt off!! But if you can get beyond the CGI transformations you’ll be rewarded with a really fun, fast-paced film. Director Alexander Yellen and writer Shane Van Dyke (who also wrote CHERNOBYL DIARIES, see Deggsy’s review) keeps everything moving along at a blistering fast pace and grabbed my attention right from the opening scenes in the airport. Eventually all the werewolves escape from their internment camp and start chewing a bloody path all throughout NYC. Now it becomes a race to cut off the city so the infection doesn’t spread across the world (and there’s of course maps showing how fast the virus will spread).
Don’t get me wrong people; this is an extremely silly movie with cheesy dialogue, cheesy CGI f/x, decent gore, and lots of action. The acting is also way above normal for an Asylum flick. I’m gonna just say it, everyone. I really liked this film and had a really fun time with it and no, I wasn’t drunk when I saw it. If Asylum keeps cranking out fun films like BATTLEDOGS, they’re gonna lose their old reputation!! Don’t miss this one. It’s a lot of fun.
Director: Alexander Yellen
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed soberly by Scott Shoyer