Book Review: Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker

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Dog Eat Dog is a novel by Edward Bunker. Bunker is an interesting character. His past involves a criminal career, a horrible childhood, a very high I.Q., becoming an author in prison and acting in some of the most classic neo noir films of the last 40 years. This book was released in 1995 and should be read by any crime fiction fan and especially any fan of noir fiction.

This story is about 3 ex-convicts who have been friends since juvenile hall. Mad Dog lives in Portland with his girlfriend and young daughter. Diesel has been working with a union in Sacramento and does the odd job for the local mob boss from time to time. He has a nice house, a wife and a brand new Mustang. Troy is our third man in this trio. Troy is a smart man that most criminals love. Troy has just got out of prison and is already got a plan in place to make some money.

This journey takes us to the underworld of Los Angeles in the 1990’s. We have drug dealers, crooked lawyers, kidnapping, murder, drug addiction and robbery just to wet your appetite for the dark corners this book goes to.

You can tell Bunker cribs from his own experience in crime for this book. There is a lot of parallels between Troy and Bunker. Bunker also covers some social issues in this book. One thing he covers is the disappearance of the middle class in Los Angeles. Something that continues to happen in many areas of the country today. Another topic is the Three Strike Law that went into effect in California in 1994, a year before this book was released. The law basically states that after your third felony you where going to go to prison for life. This book basically tells us that with this law, we are making people with two strikes willing to do anything not to go back to prison. This maybe a very good point and is something that has been changed in 2012, now it has to be a serious or violent felony for your third strike. I am no lawyer and don’t get into politics much, but for example, in one case a 2 time felon was caught stealing a set of golf clubs. He was sent to prison for life because of the 3 strike rule. Though he is a 3 time felon, and I have no idea what his previous 2 felonies are,(and he did already serve his time for those) life seems a little extreme for stealing golf clubs.

This is an amazing book and I could not put it down. Knowing a little bit about Bunker’s background made me interested in reading him. I was not expecting such a well written book. You will not be disappointed in this book! I highly recommend reading this before the movie is released later this year.

This movie could be amazing or it could be very disappointing. Lets look at the information we have so far. First off the material is second to none for a neo noir film. Second is the talent involved. Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay and is directing. His movie writing credits are some of the best neo noir films in the last 40 years. On the other hand his directing credits have been hit and miss, some are very good and some are unbelievable bad. Our main star, playing Troy is Nicolas Cage, if there is ever an actor in modern film that can be absolutely brilliant in one film and then over act and go totally campy in the next, it is Cage. Schrader promises a return to form for both him and Cage in this picture and I really hope he is right. Here is a link to a couple articles about the upcoming film:

http://deadline.com/tag/dog-eat-dog/

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One thing this film has me excited about is Willem Dafoe as Mad Dog. This casting should be worth the price of admission.

 

 

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Article: Born Under A Bad Sign-The Life of Edward Bunker

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So I just started reading Edward Bunker’s book Dog Eat Dog and can’t believe how great it is so far. Look for a book review soon. I already knew a bit about Edward Bunker, but found myself looking for a more information on this man. Most will know him from playing Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs. He has appeared in many other films, including Heat, Tango and Cash and Straight Time. He is a writer more then an actor and has written a hand full of novels, an autobiography along with many short stories. 2 of his books have been made into movies with a 3rd being made right now.

Charles Waring has written a great retrospective of Bunker’s life over at Crime Time well worth reading. Here is a link to that retrospective:

http://www.crimetime.co.uk/features/edwardbunker.php

Re-Watching the Classics: Heat

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Heat is 20 years old now!  That is hard to believe, I didn’t know if I should call it a classic, but after 20 years I think we are safe.  This is a Neo-Noir epic with one of the best casts in a noir film ever.

Michael Mann writes and directs, Mann is a legend of neo-noir film making.  He got his start in some great television shows and went on to make some amazing movies.  This one may be his best.

Lets start with the cast, this is the first time we see two of the greatest actors of our time on the screen at the same time with each other: Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.  There seen together was filmed at a restaurant in Los Angles, one where you can actually sit and have a meal at the same table even today.  They did appear in another film before this, a little film called Godfather II, but were never on screen together.

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This is almost like two films in one, we are rooting for our brilliant thief and hoping he gets away and lives happily ever after.  We are also rooting for our hard nosed cop that has to find the violent criminals before they get away clean.  It’s a cat and mouse game that we can not pick a side on.  The trip is worth it.

Though this is enough to make any movie big, no need to have anyone else in the cast, but we do.  A lot of my favorite crime actors are in this film and I’m just going to list them here:

Val Kilmer plays a gambling addict that earns his money stealing.

Ashley Judd plays his wife and our only real femme fatale.

Jon Voight plays the ring leader of the bad guys, interesting note: his character is based on Edward Bunker, a career criminal that has appeared in many crime films and has written many noir books himself.  I plan on reading and reviewing some of his books on the website later.

A young Natalie Portman is in here as the angry step daughter, she already showed some amazing talent in this small role.

We also have an all star supporting cast of crime film regulars:  Tom Sizemore, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi,Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert,  William Fichtner, Kevin Gage, Hank Azaria, Danny Trejo, Henry Rollins, and Jeremy Piven.

This movie actually is based on a real life cop and his pursuit of a career thief.  The real story is about Chuck Adamson, a real life cop in Chicago who meet in a non violent situation with the real Neil McCauley and chased him for part of his career.  Adamson also helped write on some of Mann’s T.V. shows and is also the source for one of Mann’s other movies, Thief.

At almost 3 hours long, this is a long film, but worth it.