Dog Eat Dog is mean, gritty, and excessively violent. There’s a market out there for crime stories that shine a light on scumbag characters doing awful things, and this movie knows it. Dog Eat Dog is one of those films that takes the groundwork Tarantino laid alongside his peers in the early ’90s and amplifies it to the nth degree. The movie is now playing in select theaters and available on VOD.

Nicolas Cage leads the core trio of characters in this story about ex-convicts who are released from prison but continue to wallow in a life of sex, crime, and drug use. Troy is a role that Nicolas Cage dives into with the same fervor he has been riding on for most of this decade, and his work here veers from mania to odd Bogart-like parody. Willem Dafoe joins him as Mad Dog in the underling position. Dafoe steals the show as the year’s possibly most disturbed psychotic. It’s no Wild At Heart, but at least Dog Eat Dog gives us a few scenes to relish and enjoy their on-screen reunion.

The way this film begins will either shock the viewer with its brutality or have them walking out before the credits roll. Mad Dog is a drug-fueled murderer, and Troy is a violent criminal. The two pair up after serving time in prison together with a bruiser thug named Diesel. The three murder, steal and con their way through the days after their release. Along their journey, blood is spilled, lives are lost, and innocent people get mercilessly slaughtered. Gritty action flick fans will find this film treading a lot of familiar ground in the harsh and difficult to digest morality category.

Written by Reservoir Dogs Mr. Blue actor and author Eddie Bunker, Dog Eat Dog is a story that goes into some very tough and unsavory territory. Director Paul Schrader doesn’t hold back on the violence nor does he try to sugarcoat the malicious nature of the characters in any way. This is an ugly and inhumane tale that has the potential to easily upset viewers who are not desensitized to this kind of style. As a part of the hyper-violent subgenre of crime dramas, Dog Eat Dog does its job. It’s a sick and twisted ride.