THE DOGFIGHTERS is as inconsequential a film as they come. However, this action work-out benefits from the presence of star Robert Davi. Cast against type as a high-flyin' secret agent man, Davi can't pull the film out of a quicksand of Russian Mafia stereotypes, but he does command the
screen when he's on it, even during heady aerial sequences.
Having sufficiently annoyed the Pentagon Brass to drum him out of the military, iconoclastic legend Rowdy Welles (Davi) now wastes his talent on marijuana runs. By faking the death of one of Rowdy's one-night stands, CIA chief Dick Althorp (Ben Gazzara) blackmails the retired Welles into going
undercover. His assignment: to capsize the black market empire of a Russian "Godfather," Lothar Krasna (Alexander Godunov).
As a reluctant soldier of fortune, Welles gets a cold reception from Krasna's Soviet enforcers who are scheming to manufacture plutonium bombs. Aided by a double agent named "Mike" (Lara Harris), who's bedding Krasna, Welles is finally outfitted by an unfortunate weapons monger, Nektar (Joszef
Szekhelyi), who pays for his cooperation by being killed by Krasna's henchmen.
Fending off assorted assassination attempts, Welles infiltrates the nuclear facility and rescues hostage "Mike," vacating the premises just before they explode. However, the explosion doesn't prevent Krasna from completing his bomb. After shooting down Krasna and his home-made bomb in the air,
Welles returns home. Realizing he was set up with a faked murder charge and that Althorp considered him a likely casualty of the operation, Welles finishes meting out international justice by punching out the wily CIA chief.
Despite the plethora of authentic Russkie accents, the "nogoodniks" in this assembly line film could just as easily be Mafia from Sicily, skinheads from Berlin, or ticket scalpers from Madison Square Garden. Like all interchangeable threats, the villains exist for the sole purpose of an Ugly
American to polish off with xenophobic righteousness. Serving as propaganda for weekend warriors to watch at paramilitary getaways, films like THE DOGFIGHTERS never tire of exposing the dirty underwear of those indefatigable Commies. Going a step further, this particular celebration of
All-American individuality (i.e., vigilantism) also satirizes the long arm of the CIA as a crypto-military dictatorship trying to run America--we all know that keeping America safe is the province of heroes like Welles with gripes against the government. If you don't have a high tolerance for this
sort of qualified flag-waving then steer clear of THE DOGFIGHTERS. (And in doing so, you will also spare yourself the dismaying sight of a dissipated Godunov in one of his last roles.) (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: THE DOGFIGHTERS is as inconsequential a film as they come. However, this action work-out benefits from the presence of star Robert Davi. Cast against type as a high-flyin' secret agent man, Davi can't pull the film out of a quicksand of Russian Mafia stere… (more)