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Black Dog 1998

An ex-con takes a job driving a truck cross country. What he doesn't know is that the truck is filled with illegal weapons and now he must fight to survive and save his family...

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Imdb rating: 5.2

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I actually saw this on Cable TV. That means I waited after it came out at the box office, and then after it came out on DVD/VHS.
It would have been better off as a made-for-TV movie. Patrick Swayze, Meatloaf and Randy Travis get entangled in acting one of the most poorly written movie scripts. It was as if the guy who wrote "BJ & The Bear" came out of retirement and thought people still think rebel truckers are cool.
UNIMPRESSIVE ACTION MOVIE WITH LITTLE SUBSTANCE. JUST A BUNCH OF EXPLOSIONS AND A CAST THAT LACKS ENTHUSIASM.
(***)
This resemebles made-for-tv movie, though one with slightly higher budget than usual. Not very interesting; there's a lot of smash-n-burn, it somehow comes across as unexciting. Patrick Swayze needs an agent who can find better scripts.

Patrick Swayze takes a driving job to save his home.

Jack Crews: Patrick Swayze
Red: Meat Loaf
Earl: Randy Travis
Sonny: Gabriel Casseus
Wes: Brian Vincent
Melanie: Brenda Strong
Cutler: Graham Beckel
Agent McClaren: Stephen Tobolowsky
Agent Ford: Charles Dutton
Tracy: Erin Broderick

Directed by: Kevin Hooks
Written by: William Mickelberry and Dan Vining

Patrick Swayze has one of the worst careers of any somewhat decent actor. All of the charisma, charm, and strong acting he showcased in films like Dirty Dancing, Ghost, Point Break, and 11:14 is really pale in comparison into the chopped up job he has done in several other motion pictures. Next of Kin, Fatherhood, Road House, and Red Dawn are just some of the titles that have labeled Swayze as one of the worst action stars of his generation. He displayed no charisma in those films, the directing and writing were horrendous, and his acting was subpar. Possibly his worst project was the 1998 vehicle Black Dog, which has surprisingly built up somewhat of a cult following on cable television.

Kevin Hooks, a notable television director, is the yielder of Black Dog, which was poorly written by William Mickelberry and Dan Vining. The only reason why this film was made in the first place was to make money, and give Patrick Swayze a new project to work on. There isn't an ounce of originality found in the entire script, and many of the action sequences seems like they have been done better on shows like Miami Vice and Magnum, P.I. What is really surprisingly is the films of Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme have at least more semblance than Black Dog, which has one interesting scene at most.

The idea about the film is somewhat intriguing, and I might do some research to see if the "black dog" term really does relate to the fears of truck drivers. Though there is a scene with a black Labrador in the film, that isn't what the black dog refers to. Swayze's character, a truck driver named Jack Crews, explained to his partners what the black dog meant. It's when truck drivers are so far away from where they really should be (i.e. home) that they see an image of a running black do on the road, and it usually causes the driver to lose control of the car. For Jack, he lost control and committed vehicular manslaughter. It cost Jack his truck driving license and he also had to spend two years in prison.

Cutler (Graham Beckley), a car dealer and Jack's boss, is in need of a truck driver. He needs someone to drive some of his goods to him, and he choose for Jack to be that person. Jack ultimately refused to take the job, even though Cutler threatened to fire him, but when Jack's house is in trouble of being foreclosed, he has a change of mind and takes the job. What Jack didn't know was that the goods that he will be transporting is loaded armory and weapons, and his closest partner in the trip, Sonny (Gabriel Casseus), is affiliated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also along for the ride is Earl (Randy Travis) and Wes (Brian Vincent), and Cutler's partner Red (Meat Loaf) makes several attempts in trying to control Jack and take the weapons himself.

The film really falls flat on action, with nearly all of the action sequences taking place on the road, aside from the final 10-15 minutes. Car chases can be interesting, and films like Terminator 2 and Lethal Weapon 4, have done wonderful chase scenes, but they often become tiresome, formula, and lose their appeal. With Black Dog, the car chases are never very interesting because the chases all involve tractor trailers. One of the appeals of a good car chase is speed and a good looking car, and that is something the film doesn't have. The film relies on big trucks smashing into one another and even though there are several explosions and Swayze's character manages to show his truck-driving techniques, it is never interesting.

There are some features, aside from the short running time, that helped the film be better than it could have been, and that was the presence of actors Stephen Tobolowsky and Charles Dutton. Neither is a terrific actor, though Dutton has showed a lot of potential before, but the scenes between the two of them distributed a lot of chemistry and comic relief. Playing two FBI agents in charge of the truck case, there are moments when they bicker with each other and argue over tactics and strategy, and it is actually somewhat funny and appealing. If the film had focused more on the relationship between those characters, rather than on the Meat Loaf character, the film could of had been better.

Like many action films, Black Dog is a waste of time and space, and there is nothing new or interesting in the film at all. When action films like these are released, it really shows that kind of talent directors like Renny Harlin and Michael Bay have, and they aren't exactly that good of filmmakers to begin with. This is probably the worst film to ever take part in the careers of Patrick Swayze, Charles Dutton, and several others actors and filmmakers, and Meat Loaf and Randy Travis are better off sticking to their music careers.
The acting is as good as it can be on this type of movie,Patrick Swayze is great on the role of Jack Crews,so is Randy Travis as a co driver,once you get down to the manusha of how and what it takes to drive a truck then,it s not technically correct,but for a good action movie,it is ok,I watched it when it came out and I liked it then,but then I am partial to Swayze,so get the popcorn and enjoy it,you don t have to break your head with deep mistery or heavy drama,just a bam bam boom hit them til they hurt type of movie,is funny too., I give it 3.9 stars.