The self-styled “battlers” of Australian football, the Bulldogs start the year with several matches in which they’re roundly defeated. Cordell takes his camera into the dressing rooms, training areas and board rooms as he follows the fortunes of these tenacious players and their supporters during what proves to be a terrible year. There’s a change of coach, injuries, illness and heavy financial pressures.
Cordell manages to shape this material into a suspenseful and intriguing saga that should entertain even non-fans. He succeeds in humanizing the players and the people around them so that even the uncommitted viewer gets wrapped up in the Bulldogs’ struggle for the elusive football crown.
A major factor in the film’s success is the concentration on two of the Dogs’ most loyal and fanatical supporters, Pat and Jenny Hodgson, a mother and daughter who never miss a match. Cordell makes the phenomenon of the public’s obsession with football, and the intense identification with a favored team, understandable and even logical.
Apart from the well-filmed action scenes on the playing field, a highlight is a fundraising evening at a nightclub where team members wind up doing a “full monty” in front of excited female fans. But there is no happy ending for the Bulldogs, as pic’s closing titles contain follow-up info about some of the key characters.