Karate Dog (2004) — Bob Clark’s final directorial flop

Justin’s rating: Never before and never again

Justin’s review: What sounds better? “From the guy who brought you A Christmas Story, it’s Karate Dog” or “From the crackpot who brought you Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, it’s Karate Dog?” From directing one of the greatest comedy classics in the ’80s, Bob Clark bottomed out in a way that only strung-out junkies and certain members of Congress can relate. Baby Geniuses. Superbabies. Porky’s 2. There have been war crime tribunals for less, and yet somebody kept funding this gas-melon.

If you haven’t guessed, Karate Dog will make mincemeat of any mental defenses you put up, leaving you a hollow, gibbering shell of a human being for three to four hours after viewing. It truly is that atrocious. And yet the convergence of so many semi-famous actors makes this a more spectacular car wreck, as if you substituted the smashed-up SUV and station wagon for a leaking cement mixer and a circus wagon full of clown parts.

Mr. Miyagi himself, Pat Morita, is karate-chopped into oblivion by mysterious Evil Men In Masks (they are not to be trusted), and the only witness to the crime is his dog Cho-Cho. Who talks, by the way. And is voiced by Chevy Chase. And also knows karate. And can drive a car. And, for all you know, do income taxes and systematic theology.

Tasked by Miyagi to “team up with he who searches for the truth” and also to “sweep the legs,” Cho-Cho latches on to nerdy Det. Fowler (Simon Rex). Fowler is the kind of stereotypical underdog that every precinct is required to lug around for their unorthodox methods. In his situation, he’s overly reliant on a giant laptop computer named COLAR (get it? the dog/police theme?) to help solve crime scenes by, I don’t know, logging onto the fantastic “internet” and hacking into the police database to see what actual detectives have found.

Before you can say “wacky cop pairing,” Fowler and Cho-Cho team up to solve this great and terrible crime. There’s absolutely nothing that anyone who’s seen these types of movies can’t predict in advance. You know there will be a scene where Fowler rightfully freaks out over Cho-Cho’s talkative nature, they will sport an Odd Couple living situation complete with hilarious misunderstandings, and by the end of the movie both man and dog will have bonded and presumably shared fleas and doggy treats by a roaring fire.

Toss in a romantic subplot about a fellow officer (Jaime Pressly), Jon Voight defying all attempts at role typecasting by playing a sinister bad guy with a ponytail (who knows karate, of course), a dog party/orgy, and every doggy pun that Bob Clark got from his three-year-old niece’s joke book, and you have a cinematic nightmare ready to consume worlds.

I’m not sure what is more creepy, the fact that they cast ex-porn star Simon Rex as the lead of a kid’s comedy or the blatant abuse of CGI that lets filmmakers create unnatural moments of animals walking and brushing their teeth like humans. It sort of worked with Babe, but every filmmaker post-Babe has used the CGI/animal paring for nothing short of pure evil. It’s stupid, it’s unnatural and it isn’t as funny as they think it is.

Never before have I wanted to use a Netflix DVD in my weekly skeet shooting target practice, for fear of the penalty fees, but in this case I think it might actually be a service to my fellow human beings.

Didja notice?

  • It’s Mr. Miyagi as a dog thief!
  • Mr. Miyagi can still kick butt!
  • Hooray for the cheesy cartoon sound effects
  • Aardvarks talk German
  • Jon Voight… how the mighty have fallen, and all in this movie.
  • Dogs walking on hind legs are always creepy, more so when they’re computer generated

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