ⓘ K-9 (film)


ⓘ K-9 (film)

K-9 is a 1989 American buddy cop action-comedy film starring James Belushi and Mel Harris. It was directed by Rod Daniel, written by Steven Siegel and Scott Myers, produced by Lawrence Gordon and Charles Gordon, and released by Universal Pictures.

Belushi plays bad-tempered San Diego police detective Michael Dooley, who has been tagged for execution by a major international drug dealer named Ken Lyman played by Kevin Tighe. To help, K-9 Sergeant Brannigan played by Ed ONeill gives Dooley an unorthodox drug-sniffing police dog called "Jerry Lee" named after rock-and-roll singer Jerry Lee Lewis. The duo attempt to put Lyman behind bars but Dooley quickly learns Jerry Lee is a mischievous smart aleck who works only when and how he wants to. Many of the films gags revolve around Jerry Lees playfully destructive episodes.

The film has two direct-to-video sequels, K-911 1999 and K-9: P.I. 2002. K-9 was released exactly three months before Turner & Hooch with Tom Hanks, which had a similar plot. There is also an unsold pilot for loosely related TV series K-9000 1991 available as a TV movie.


1. Plot

San Diego Police Detective Michael Dooley leaves his car to contact his girlfriend, Tracy, when a helicopter suddenly appears and opens fire on his car, which ignites. Presuming him dead, the assassins leave the scene. At the police station, Dooley argues with his lieutenant, refusing to take a partner; instead, he decides to get a police dog. At home, he finds Tracy with another man and spends the night in his new car. The next day, Dooley coerces Freddie, an informant, into revealing that the drug lord Ken Lyman is responsible for the attack. Dooley is assigned a German Shepherd named Jerry Lee, whom he dislikes.

Dooley and Jerry Lee head to a warehouse assumed to be filled with drugs. When Jerry Lee does not follow Dooleys orders, the workers laugh at him. Dooley is forced to leave after Jerry Lee finds only a cigarette when commanded to find drugs. The duo drive to a pub where Dooley stakes out Benny the Mule in an attempt to charge Lyman. When his cover is blown, Jerry Lee saves Dooley from a beating; with the dogs help, Dooley subdues Benny and learns the location of Lymans next shipment. Meanwhile, Lyman kills Freddie and demands that his henchman Dillon kill Dooley before the shipment arrives.

At Dooleys apartment, Jerry Lee steals the spotlight after Tracy accepts Dooleys story that he rescued the dog from the streets. The next day, Dooley and Jerry Lee bond when they eat together and spy on Lyman. The two are nearly killed when someone shoots at them, and the two chase the assailant to an empty building. Jerry Lee leads Dooley to the man, who falls to his death after a fistfight with Dooley. In the mans car, Dooley finds a clue that leads him to an auto-dealer shop. There, Jerry Lee identifies a red Mercedes owned by Lyman, and Dooley learns from Halstead, the owner of the dealership, that he works for Lyman. Later, Jerry Lee falls in love with a poodle to the disapproval of its owner.

When Dooley returns home, he discovers Lyman has kidnapped Tracy. Infuriated, Dooley crashes a party at Lymans mansion and demands her return. Lyman pretends to know nothing, and Dooley is arrested by an officer from his own department and put in a squad car. Angry, Dooleys lieutenant calls him crazy. When Jerry Lees flatulence annoys the other officers, Dooley uses it to his advantage and escapes with the dog. As Dooley tells Jerry Lee how he met Tracy, he spots a truck driven by Halstead that is pulling a trailer with Lymans Mercedes. Dooley purses the truck, and Halstead blows a tire. After Halstead shoots at Dooley, Jerry Lee kills Halstead.

Meanwhile, in a stranded desert in San Diego, Lyman holds Tracy hostage in his limo and becomes suspicious when Halstead is late. Dooley arrives with the truck and trailer, which is revealed to be the next shipment of drugs. Not worrying about the case anymore, Dooley orders Lyman to surrender his girlfriend to him, or he will blow up the truck. Lyman calls Dooleys bluff, and a shootout ensues. Dooley kills Lymans henchmen Dillon and Jerry Lee chases Lyman as he runs for his helicopter. Unable to outrun the dog, Lyman shoots Jerry Lee; enraged, Dooley shoots at Lyman but misses. Lyman is, instead, shot and killed by his associates who were waiting in the helicopter. Dooley and Tracy rush Jerry Lee to a hospital, where the reluctant surgeon operates. In the recovery room, Dooley delivers a eulogy to Jerry Lee, not knowing that he is alive. When the surgeon tells him he is going to be fine, Dooley responds in anger, thinking he was speaking to a dead dog. Jerry Lee licks Dooleys face out of love, making him give in.

To take a break from police work, Dooley, Tracy, Jerry Lee, and a poodle spend a vacation together in Las Vegas.


2. Cast

  • Pruitt Taylor Vince as Benny the Mule
  • James Belushi as Detective Michael Dooley
  • Ed ONeill as K-9 Sgt. Brannigan
  • Sherman Howard as Dillon
  • James Handy as Lt. Byers
  • John Snyder as Freddie
  • Mel Harris as Tracy
  • Cotter Smith as Gilliam
  • Daniel Davis as Halstead
  • Kevin Tighe as Lyman

The role of "Jerry Lee," though credited in the movie credits as being played by Jerry Lee, was actually played by more than one dog, including backups and stand-ins.


3. Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates both contemporary and modern reviews, K-9 holds a 22% approval rating based on 9 reviews; the average rating is 4.1/10. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times praised the actors but not the routine plot. Thomas wrote, "Its enjoyable, thanks not only to its charismatic duo, but also to the skilled comedy direction of Rod Daniel." Stephen Holden of The New York Times stated it has "no shred of credibility", yet contains "cutesy, surefire dog tricks" and a "breezy pacing". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film "2 stars". Rita Kempley of The Washington Post complimented Jerry Lees performance.


4. Release

K-9 was released to home video in early 1990, followed by a DVD release 16 years later, on October 24, 2006. It was re-released along with its sequels in a collection as "K-9: The Patrol Pack" on January 17, 2010.

A Blu-ray release would follow afterwards on May 15, 2018.


5. Soundtrack

  • "Main Title Theme from Jaws"

Music composed by John Williams / Courtesy of MCA Records

  • "Iko Iko"

Written by Barbara Ann Hawkins as Hawkins, Joe Jones as Jones, Rosa Lee Hawkins as Hawkins, Marilyn Jones as Johnson, Sharon Jones as Jones and Jessie Thomas as Thomas of The Dixie Cups / Performed by Amy Holland

  • "I Got You I Feel Good"

Written by James Brown / Performed by James Brown / Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.

  • "Oh Yeah"

Written by Boris Blank and Dieter Meier / Performed by Yello / Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.

  • "Car Wash"

Written by Norman Whitfield / Performed by Rose Royce / Courtesy of MCA Records