In China They Eat Dogs (Danish: I Kina Spiser de Hunde) is an excellent and very dark action comedy from writer Anders Thomas Jensen and director (and former stuntman) Lasse Spang Olsen, released in September 1999.
It follows two brothers — the mild-mannered bank clerk, Arvid, and a ruthless restaurant owner, Harald. After being dumped by his girlfriend for being too boring of a person, Arvid decides to lead a more exciting life. A chance presents itself when he suddenly when robbery happens at the bank and he helps stopping it. The wife of the would-be bank robber tracks Arvid down and tells him her husband was robbing the bank only so he could pay for medical treatments so they could have a child. Because of his revelation, he comes to sympathize with the bank robber and imagining he can help the couple and prove himself to be a dangerous outlaw all at once, Arvid plots a robbery of his own bank with the help of Harald and some fellow wannabe criminals.
Had a prequel in 2002, called Old Men In New Cars, mostly about said restaurant owner and his crew.
This movie features examples of:
- Amusing Injuries: Poor Vuk survives a cartoonish amount of punishment that leaves him more and more covered in bandages until he finally bites it.
- Bittersweet Ending: Most of the cast is dead, but at least Arvid goes to Heaven thanks to a relations between his late father and God. Harald, Martin and Peter also survive, with the latter two being arguably the most pitiful and unsuspecting characters all along.
- Butt-Monkey: Vuk. He's constantly belittled and insulted (mostly by Harald) and goes through a staggering amount of Amusing Injuries to the point that even Wile E. Coyote would wince. it eventually kills him... and even his death gets Played for Laughs.
- Catchphrase: Harald's two long-suffering restaurant employees, when protesting the criminal mayhem their boss forces them to participate in: "We are chefs."
- Caustic Critic: At the end, as God takes Arvid to Heaven, Arvid asks why he is allowed to enter Paradise, seeing how he murdered an entire rock band. God answers that He really doesn't mind as the band "weren't any good."
- Chekhov's Gunman: The tourist and the bartender who are actually God and a Devil in Disguise, respectively.
- Easy Road to Hell: Cheat at gambling? HELL!!! Gay? HELL!!! Cuckold your husband once? HELL!!! -Oh, wait a sec, that last one wasn't enough and she should have gone to heaven? Oh, well, too bad for her...
- God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Satan, or at least his representative, basically sends everyone who God doesn't claim as His own to Hell for what is basically really minor sins and crimes (some of which are blatantly trumped-up charges), and God happens to be a drunken Lazy Bum who has a really bad handle on His paperwork.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: One of the themes of the film, and is encapsulated when Harald tells Arvid that "In China, they eat dogs," during a discussion about morality. The point is that there is no such thing as moral absolutism; what can be considered "right" and "wrong" often comes down to perspective and can vary widely from situation to situation.
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: The guy at the bar. Turns out that he is actually God.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Harald's crew. "We are chefs!"
- It Gets Easier: Once Arvid starts on the path to crime, he finds himself surprised at how fast he gets used to it.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Arvid, of course. It starts with planning a bank robbery, then escalates quickly to several murders and a bloody gang war with Muslim gangsters.
- Sore Loser: The poker player keeps winning his games against the bartender, who turns out to be a Devil in Disguise. Angry over having repeatedly lost, the devil accuses him of having cheated during the poker game, and based on that, he sentences him to go to Hell. The poker player confusedly protests his innocence as he is dragged off.
- Tranquil Fury: Harald has a Hair-Trigger Temper and is almost constantly pissed at something or someone, but he almost never goes beyond looking and sounding mildly annoyed. Mind you, he's not the type you should even mildly annoy.
- You Owe Me: Arvid and Harald's father somehow managed to make God indebted to him. At the end of the film, this allows the recently deceased Arvid to enter Paradise, despite all the bad things he has done in the course of the film.