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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Backyard Dogs: The Movie (2000)

"In 1998, there were 350 backyard wrestling federations in the United States. By the year 2000, there were 18,000 federations worlwide."
- Opening title crawl

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 28, 2001

Stars: Scott Hamm, Bree Turner, Walter Emmanuel Jones
Other Stars: Roger Fan, Dale L. Evans
Director: Robert Boris

MPAA Rating: R for wrestling violence, language and some nudity
Run Time: 01h:36m:00s
Release Date: November 20, 2001
UPC: 012236122500
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+B-B- B+

DVD Review

Wrestling isn't really my cup of tea. I'll admit to having watched a few Saturday afternoon bouts when I was a kid, in the days of Dick The Bruiser and Baron Von Rashke. But I've never gravitated toward the overblown theatrics of the World Wrestling Federation and any of those gravel-voiced cartoon characters. I'm not knocking it. I just don't get it.

The relatively new phenomenon of backyard wrestling, where Normal Joes hurl and crush other Normal Joe opponents in homemade rings started gathering steam a few years ago. This is not the flamboyant type of staged fighting that the WWF offers, but rather it was gritty, no-holds barred battles where guys would leap from rooftops, crash through plywood, and smack down opponents with anything handy. It's sort of the human equivalent of dog fights. With the help of the Internet, this new breed of wrestler could self-promote, build a reputation and gather a following. There are a number of late-night commercials hawking videos featuring the Best Of Backyard Wrestling volumes. It looks like it's here to stay. At least for the time being.

Backyard Dogs: The Movie is the Rocky-like story of a couple of struggling backyard wrestlers, Cole (Scott Hamm) and Lee (Walter Emmanuel, formerly of The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). They've been plugging away at the backyard circuit, hunting for a break. Lee gets the idea to recruit gal pal Kristy (Bree Turner) to build them an Internet identity in order to help boost their reputations and help their careers. Their goal is to reach the Backyard Championships, which is connected with FMW, who are sort of the WWF of Japan. Victory there will assure them a slot a big money pay-per-view match in Las Vegas. Kristy's job is manage their careers and identities as they struggle to reach the top.

Writer-director Robert Boris (Oxford Blues) shot this one on digital video, and used a number of different formats in order to give it more a documentary feel. As expected, Boris' script stages a number of matches for the boys as they work they way up the ranks. If you're a wrestling fan, you will probably get a kick out of these sequences. The fights are long, and look fairly realistic.

There isn't much of an edge to the writing, though. By now we've all seen Rocky Balboa rise up from being a nobody to take on the champ, and there just isn't any real level of doubt here as to whether Cole and Lee will make it. This is more of an exercise to highlight the whole rage of backyard wrestling, and to feature a trio of good-looking leads to fill in the cracks along the way.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: A 1.33:1 full-frame transfer is Artisan's only option, despite the DVD case stating the film is presented in widescreen. Shot digitally, the finished product looks like it just fell out of a video camera, which appears to be Boris' intent. Utilizing a handful of different formats, which give the film a more homemade look, there isn't much to consistently nitpick about here. The overall look is that of a low budget television show rather than a feature film. Colors tend to run a little on the flat side, but flesh tones have a natural feel.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The big dog, audio wise, is the 5.1 mix. Too bad there just isn't much in the way of rear channels cues to really capitalize on that. Most of the action is split across the three front channels, with an average amount of directional imaging. Minimal surround effects, mostly subtle crowd sounds during the wrestling matches don't really elevate the sound field much. Dialogue is mixed well about the music, and is always clear.

A more than adequate 2.0 English surround track is also included, especially when compared to the 5.1 mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Robert Boris, Scott Hamm, Walter Emmanuel Jones, Dale L. Evans
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: A good B-movie that features lengthy revelations by the director is one of life's little pleasures, if you ask me. Here, Robert Boris, Scott Hamm, Walter Emmanuel Jones and Dale L. Evans talk shop during a fun scene-specific commentary. The track is mostly driven by Boris, who gives an almost non-stop dialogue about the making of a low budget wrestling epic-wannabe. He drops a few cool inside tidbits, such as the fact that a number of scenes were shot on Dick Van Patten's property, or that it cost about $75,000 to convert the film from video to 35mm. Boris is in the same league as director Jim Wynorski (Extreme Limits) when it comes to entertaining commentaries for less than memorable movies.

Remaining extras include a photo gallery of 15 stills, cast and crew bios, 20 full-motion chapter stops, and subtitles in English and Spanish.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

A predictable tale, set in the somewhat underground world of backyard wrestling. Too bad the story is so familiar. There's plenty of wrestling, a little skin, and not much else. Artisan's saving grace on this one is an engaging commentary by Robert Boris that actually is more entertaining than the film itself.


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