A 2004 tv film about a talking dog that teams up with a detective to solve a crime involving ooze.
In the opening scene, Pat Morita steals a canister full of green ooze from a laboratory. What is this, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II? He goes home to his talking dog, Cho-Cho (voiced by Chevy Chase), and they are suddenly attacked by a group of ninjas.
Pat Morita fights the ninjas but gets killed; Cho-Cho also fights them, but they take the canister and leave.
A police team arrives on the scene and we meet the film’s protagonist, Detective Fowler. He’s also a tech expert, by the way, and carries a suitcase containing an artificial intelligence named COLAR (an acronym that stands for some bullshit) voiced by Lori Petty.
Fowler drives back home, but Cho-Cho catches a ride in his car and scares the crap out of him by speaking. It appears all animals can talk to each other, and Pat Morita just willed Cho-Cho to speak to humans or something. It’s a flimsy explanation, but whatever.
Fowler and Cho-Cho team up to investigate Pat Morita’s murder and do some detective work that leads them to a dog track run by a “philantropist” played by Jon Voight.
We learn that the ooze is a sort of growth hormone that enhances performance and physical ability; Voight had the ninjas steal it so he could use it on the race dogs, but he’s been taking it too, and there are plans to introduce it into kids cereal and the water supply or some shit.
At this time, we also get some interlude scenes of Fowler romantically pursuing a police officer played by Jaime Pressly, and getting (bad) advice from Cho-Cho. It doesn’t go well at first but things get better between them.
Anyway, Fowler and Cho-Cho corner Jon Voight, and Cho-Cho just beats the shit out of him. Voight then pulls out a gun to shoot Fowler, but Cho-Cho jumps in front of him and takes the bullet.
Don’t worry, Cho-Cho’s fine and he’s awarded a medal, and Voight is arrested. The film ends with a party and Fowler kisses Jaime Pressly.
As I started this film, the scenes with Pat Morita tricked me that this was going to actually be decent, but after he died and we met Fowler, things started going downhill pretty fast.
The CGI is bad but the film had a low budget, so it’s forgivable. At best, there were times the CGI was passable, like from a cutscene in a PlayStation 2 game. But for a film called Karate Dog there aren’t a lot of fight scenes: there’s one in the beginning, one in the end, and Jaime Pressly has a short one at the end too – three total.
Chevy Chase was devoid of emotion and seemed to phone in his performance. But he wasn’t as bad as I thought he’d be, and was better than Eric Roberts in A Talking Cat!?! at least.
I’d like to give a shout-out to one of my favorite Canadian actors, Garry Chalk, who played the police chief in this film. He’s in a lot of stuff. Notably he voiced Optimus Primal in Beast Wars, but in live action productions he’s usually playing a law enforcement officer, and it’s always nice to see him.
The story was, of course, pretty weak. Yes, this is a kids movie, but I don’t think even they’d care about half of the shit that goes on – especially the scenes at Jon Voight’s company building. The humor is definitely juvenile, but I felt the film could have used more in some scenes. Maybe the producers thought the sight of talking dogs would be enough. I’m grateful there were no fart jokes, however.
I really didn’t enjoy this. The whole “karate” aspect felt tacked on and didn’t really mesh with the story. One would think a film called Karate Dog would be martial arts themed, but instead it’s more of a buddy cop movie and should’ve been called Cop Dog.