Rating: 4 out of 5.

Adult animation is tricky to get right, and justly so. It requires a balancing act to strike the right tone, and to prove the story is worth telling in this format. I’m happy to report that Chance, the new dog fighting animated drama from director Kenny Roy, emphasizes the urgency of this topic. Being no expert on the awful realities of dog fighting, I loved the approach and the scalding realism of its many sad casualties. At times, this isn’t an easy watch, and there are several dog deaths, as it’s built into the film by default. A bloodless approach to the violence doesn’t lessen the impact of haunting visuals. Chance brought tears to my eyes as we follow the central character on an eye-opening life journey.

Chance’s mother tells him early on: “There’s nothing wrong with being curious, Chance. Never be afraid to question.” It’s a mantra that will become a way of life for the young pitbull. Shortly after this, Chance (Will Cannon) is taken away to the fighting pits. A budding friendship blooms between dogs Hannibal (Eddie Goonies), Sugar (Peppur Chambers), and Chance, and the trio makes a pact to stick together no matter what. Chance doesn’t want to learn how to fight or kill. When he witnesses his first dog match to the death, he screams and runs away (“How can you do this to your own kind?”). Chance latches onto the idea for a better tomorrow—another dog tells him about a place called Haven, one where all dogs can live in peace. “No starving, fighting, killing, or dying—just eating, sleeping, running, and living!” Chance begins reciting it to the others like gospel, and he sets his sights on escaping from his horrifying circumstances.

One of Chance’s escape scenes sees the dog in distress, with a gun aimed at him as he struggles to get away. The film opens with an important message: “Every year, an estimated 250,000 dogs fall victim to illegal and organized dog fighting, worldwide.” This should give you an idea as to Chance’s level of maturity and intensity. The way it covers dog fighting, homelessness and rehabilitation captures the importance of this depressing reality. Though not appropriate for very young children, I think the movie can teach bold life lessons to teens more receptive to its messages.

Chance has animation done by James Young Entertainment, but don’t let the obscurity dissuade you from embracing this very important, honest film. The animation, especially the dog character models, occasionally dips in quality. However, the narrative is so strong that minor shortcomings with the animation is far from being a dealbreaker. The voice acting is expressive and fits each character’s attitude. A meaningful, emotional ending puts the cherry on top of an excellent movie.

In telling the story through the lens of the victims, the dogs themselves, Chance exposes animal cruelty in its worst forms. Courage, hope and perseverance are crucial takeaways that will affect every single person who watches. There may not be a Haven for all, but the more widespread we make information accessible about illegal dog fighting, the quicker we can put a stop to this awful and inhumane act. Soon, there can be a place where dogs can live in peace. No starving, fighting, killing, or dying—just eating, sleeping, running, and living. Chance comes to VOD on May 4th, and DVD June 8th.

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