Vicktory to the Underdog Review
http://www.shuizmz.com/review-vicktory-to-the-underdog-2009

VICKtory to the Underdog is a documentary about world-renowned tattoo artist Brandon Bond and his efforts to save and rehabilitate 3 of the pitbulls seized from the property of the Michael Vick estate. The documentary not only shows in great details and depth the amount of time and efforts that Bond and his wife went through while nurturing the dogs back to health (one of whom Bond’s friend took care of) but also explores other celebrities and individuals that also take time and effort to take action to help raise awareness and donate their time for dog rescues and shelters.

The documentary takes a bit of its 105 min. running time to tell the back story on Brandon Bond, just who exactly is he, and what he went through growing up and how he got to where he is today. Personally, I don’t know many specific tattoo artists (minus the one’s that have inked me) and I had no idea who the hell he was. Upon watching the punkrock/metalhead-styled doc, I began to get a sense that Bond pretty much built his tattoo business from the ground up by devoting many hours and sacrificing much of his social life to make ends meet and become a very successful tattoo artist. He now is a two-time international “Tattoo Artist of the Year“, as well as making this highly informative and entertaining documentary on pitbulls and how they have been stereotyped in the media and the news as being a vicious and harmful breed of canines.

(l to r) Brandon Bond, Donal Logue, Debbie Trejo, Danny Trejo

I, personally, have a few friends that own pitbulls and they are the most loyal and caring dogs I have ever met, but in being loyal they won’t let any harm come to their owners and I think because pitbulls are not pussies- people take that as meaning they will just go around attacking and mauling people at any given moment. For lovers of dogs, tattoos, and fans of horror films- this film is really amazing. The film follows tattoo artist and celebrity Pixie Acia from L.A. INK, legendary actor Danny Trejo (MACHETE, FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN, DESPERADO), horror icon Michael Berryman (THE HILLS HAVE EYES, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, WEIRD SCIENCE), and funny guy Donal Logue (BLADE, TV’s GROUNDED FOR LIFE) and explores how much they love dogs, pitbulls in general, and viewers get a chance to see some different sides of the celebrities and see them in their natural habitats. I had no idea Danny Trejo’s wife, Debbie, is such a devoted and, at times, insanely passionate fighter for pitbulls’ rights. She spends a great deal of time and resources visiting “Kill” Shelters (animal shelters that end up killing dogs, pitbulls specifically, if they are not adopted within a given period of time due to population control) and giving the dogs within dog treats and some love and affection. It is quite sad that there are shelters that kill dogs because there are too many of them and there is no one to care for them and take them in. Pitbulls have a bad rap and many that go to adopt a dog do not choose to take a pitbull, especially one that has been abused or used in dog-fighting because they feel the dog is violent and may turn on them.

Michael Berryman and Brandon Bond

The documentary really focuses on the cruelty and savagery that engaging and supporting illegal dog-fighting imposes on the rights of the animal. Specifically, the Michael Vick pitbulls that were confiscated by authorities when his dog-fighting ring was exposed and made national news and media. Bond, through his film, reinforces that theme that EVERYONE deserves a second chance, from the abused and once-aggressive pitbulls that are sitting alone in dog pounds waiting for someone to give them a home to even, Michael Vick, who after being incarcerated lost all his money, his stature, his contracts, and even his NFL team when he was locked up for 21 months in prison and two months under house arrest (a penalty that I personally feel was pretty light for the crime he committed). Vick and his actions are not the focus of the film, but instead, three of the dogs that Bond rescued are. The movie really sheds light on several individuals who hold celebrity status and adore dogs and specifically, pitbulls.

The quick pace and many different edited shots make for an enjoyable viewing, accompanied with some modern-edged rock and metal giving a “cool” look and feel to the film. If one had any misconceptions about pitbulls or dog shelters in general, this film may debunk those thoughts. Although not too heavily backed up by science and statistics about pitbulls and the rate at which dogs in “kill” shelters are euthanized, there was a segment with dog veterinarians when the film showed the ever-gorgeous Pixie donating her time at an unnamed clinic two-hours away from her home (so she can avoid the publicity and media), as well as a portion of the film where a dog trainer who runs a doggie “bootcamp” takes new (or old) dogs to be trained (or re-trained) to follow commands and listen better to their owners.

Pixie Acia and her buddies

Bond’s documentary is one to be loved by dog-owners and pitbull lovers everywhere, but also a decent viewing for those interested in the tattoo and rock’n'roll lifestyle of a rebel of sorts that finally found his calling in art through tattooing. The film serves more than purpose and agenda-it is a bio of sorts for acclaimed tattoo artist and owner of ALL OR NOTHING Tattoo Studio in Atlanta, GA. Myself, not a dog owner but a dog lover, I found that because the film did not only focus on the dog rescuing operation but also on Bond and his career and struggles, the film completes a total package for entertaining, educating, and creating awareness for the film’s primary focus and cause.

The film was directed by Brandon Bond, also starring Bond as well as the aforementioned celebrities, Bond’s wife, and a handful of his friends. At times, the film is just footage of Bond, his wife, and their dogs going for walks, driving to different shelters, and interviewing some Atlanta Falcons fans about what they think of Michael Vick (specifically those wearing Vick’s jersey). The message I got out of the film was that humans are for more hateful and inherently harmful creatures than most breeds of dogs will ever be as we have a conscious and an ability to think about what we are doing yet still tend or CHOOSE to make the wrong decision most times. Pitbulls, the way I see them, are loyal to their owners and just want to please them (even if it means tearing apart another dog owned by another person). The message was that these dogs’ usually are just reflections of their owners and if their owners are consistently training them to fight and kill on command, then that is what they are going to do. If the dog is given love and affection, then the dog will no longer feel the need to attack anyone or thing, and give that love and affection back.

I was recommended this film from a friend, Flip, who knew I had a great respect and fondness for actor Danny Trejo, as well as enjoying the work of Michael Berryman. Flip arranged for SHU-IZMZ to get a review copy sent to our headquarters but what I walked away with after watching this film was something far more greater than just seeing one of my favorite actors in a documentary about pitbulls—I learned a great deal about what happens to pitbulls (and other dogs) at “kill shelters” when no one adopts them and that breeding pitbulls is, in fact, harmful to the existence of the pitbulls already without a home and family. Breeding can cause overpopulation. I wanted to run out adopt a dog immediately after viewing VICKtory to the Underdog. The film also teaches viewers an even greater lesson: Everyone deserves a 2nd chance in life sometimes. Bond got a second chance. Bond’s wife was given a 2nd chance (she was a drug-addict and alcoholic). All these pitbulls deserve a second chance at having a life and Bond even told the camera that Michael Vick even deserves a second chance, although Bond feels Vick has lost the right to ever own and care for a dog again (I agree!).

VICKtory to the Underdog is a documentary that entertains, as well as educates. I recommend it for those that own dogs, love dogs, or are even fearful of pitbulls and dogs. I feel one will walk away with a little more love and compassion for the animals, as well as quite a bit more knowledge. After this film was made, all the proceeds were given to an animal shelter that houses pitbulls and also gives convicts on probation a job working with the dogs. Not only are the dogs being rehabilitated, but the convicts also are getting rehabilitated.

To get a copy of VICKtory to the Underdog, head over to STRANGLEHOLDMERCH.com to buy one,  as well as Brandonbond.com to learn about getting some killer ink and a bit more about his cool tattoo studio.