K-9 (film)

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This article is about the film K-9. For other uses of K-9, see K9.
K nine.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rod Daniel
Produced by Lawrence Gordon
Charles Gordon
Written by Steven Siegel
Scott Myers
Lloyd Levin
Donna Smith
Starring James Belushi
Jerry Lee
Mel Harris
Music by Miles Goodman
Cinematography Dean Semler
Edited by Lois Freeman-Fox
Gordon Company
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release dates
  • April 28, 1989 (1989-04-28)
Running time 102 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million
Box office $78,247,647

K-9 is a 1989 American action/thriller-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 City Studios. It has two sequels, K-911 (1999) and K-9: P.I. (2002), both being direct-to-video.


One rainy night, San Diego Police Detective Michael Dooley is playing the game Manhole in his car. After the station refuses to allow him to speak to his girlfriend, Dooley goes to a nearby parked car, where two people are having sex, to borrow their phone. Dooley speaks with his girlfriend Tracy to tell her he will be running late when a helicopter suddenly shows up and begins shooting at Dooley's car. It ignites and catches fire with the snipers presuming him dead. At the police station, Dooley gets in a heated argument with his boss, refusing to have a partner with him and decides to get a police dog instead. When Dooley returns home, he is surprised to see Tracy with another man. She becomes disappointed with his police work she begins feeling they are drifting apart. Dooley is forced to spend the night alone in his new green car.

The next day at sunrise, Dooley pursues a runner named Freddie who he handcuffs to his vehicle to find out who tried to kill him. While taking in on a dangerous stroll, he is able to find out that drug lord Ken Lyman is responsible for his attempted murder the other day. Then, after busting some criminals in a neighborhood home, his friend Brannigan helps by giving Dooley a German Shepherd Dog named Jerry Lee who is right for the job to capture Lyman. From the beginning, Dooley dislikes Jerry Lee and having to do things his way. Soon Dooley and Jerry Lee head to a warehouse assumed to be filled with drugs. Dooley alerts all the people working in the warehouse he has brought a drug-sniffing police dog who is dangerous and they must obey the law. When he tells Jerry Lee to search, he does not move until Dooley opens the door to his car, making everyone laugh; the dog does not do anything until Dooley said 'find the dope.' As they search the whole warehouse for drugs, Lyman arrives in his limousine and warns Dooley he will call a real cop if he does not leave the premises at once. Being all cocky with Lyman, Dooley becomes frustrated when all Jerry Lee found was a cigarette. Dooley leaves in disappointment. The duo then drive to a pub where Dooley begins to stake out 'Benny the Mule' in hopes of getting closer to charge Lyman in his drug operation. However his stake out as a health inspector failed when the Mule shows up alerting his henchmen he is a cop. Before they can pummel Dooley, Jerry Lee shows up at the door. The Mule throws a billiard cue ball at him but Jerry Lee chomps it in half. Then he throws a stick and Jerry Lee lunges at the Mule and begins attacking him and his henchmen. Before he can get away, Jerry Lee bites the Mule's genitals and Dooley is able to get more details on Lyman's next shipment before the police arrive and arrest him.

Taking a nice swim in his pool, Lyman, now aware of Detective Dooley tracking down his current shipment of drugs, shoots and kills Freddie for revealing it to him, and then demands his loyal henchman Dillon that Dooley be killed before the next shipment arrives. Back at Dooley's apartment, Jerry Lee steals the spotlight when Tracy meets him for the first time, buying Dooley's story that he was picked up from the streets. The next day, Jerry Lee and Dooley seemingly bond when they eat at a restaurant, and when Dooley secretly listens on Lyman's plot at the beach. Relaxing in his car with a cupcake, he and Jerry Lee are nearly killed when a run-and-gunner driver passes by and a chase pursues. They chase him all the way to an empty building. Jerry Lee follows his tracks, and so does Dooley. When it is revealed he has to jump to another building rooftop, his weight nearly fails him and he grabs hold of a handlebar. When Jerry Lee barks to the top of the building, Dooley thinks he is playing games with him and he tells him there is nobody up there. But thanks to his keen intellect, Jerry Lee guides Dooley straight to the crook and engages in a brief fist fight with him. Dooley overpowers the crook and sends him falling to his death, saying "Now there's a guy who definitely has the right to remain silent." Dooley finds a clue in the crook's car that would take him closer to Lyman. Arriving at an auto-dealer shop, Jerry Lee begins digging out of a red Mercedes, to which he knows it is the work of Ken Lyman. Dooley, playing along with Halstead the car dealership owner who is kicking him out, finds out he works for Lyman. Later, Jerry Lee falls in love with a poodle which attracts negative attention from its owner. Dooley tells him the situation has been covered and it is okay.

When Dooley returns home, he discovers Tracy has been kidnapped by Lyman and his henchmen. Infuriated, Dooley crashes a party held at Lyman's mansion, demanding where his girlfriend is. With Lyman pretending to know nothing of the kidnapping and lying to his guests, Dooley is arrested by an officer from his own department and put in a patrol car. Dooley's Boss Police Captain Roger Byers is angry with Dooley for his actions, calling him crazy and out of his mind. While strolling on the road, alone, Byers and another officer become disgusted by Jerry Lee's flatulence, first thinking Dooley did it. When they let them both out, Dooley uses it to his advantage to take away the car from them, bringing Jerry Lee along. As Dooley recites to Jerry Lee about how he met Tracy, they spot a truck pulling a trailer of cars, and after spotting the same red Mercedes from earlier, follow the driver knowing he is the same guy from the auto dealer. Halstead shoots the lightbar and blows out a tire, but Jerry Lee races after the truck in which he kills him.

Meanwhile, in a stranded desert in San Diego, Lyman finds out Halstead is late, realizing he is never late. Tracy is held hostage in Lyman's limo and Dooley arrives with the truck and trailer, which is revealed to be the next shipment of drugs Lyman was talking about (filled with cocaine). Not worrying about the case anymore, Dooley orders Lyman to surrender his girlfriend to him, or he will blow up the truck and that "it snows in San Diego." It was all going to plan until a setback occurred in which the detonator was really Dooley's Game & Watch Manhole game. A shootout begins and Lyman's getaway helicopter is waiting for him on the other side. Dooley kills all his henchmen while Jerry Lee chases Lyman. Unable to outrun him, Lyman grabs his pistol and shoots Jerry Lee in the chest. Nearly mourning the loss of Jerry Lee, Dooley fires multiple shots at Lyman, killing him in revenge for injuring his partner. Shortly after, Lyman's helicopter flees. Dooley and Tracy hurry to a hospital in hopes of reviving him, much to the rules and regulations of the nurse and the surgeon. In the recovery room, Dooley delivers a eulogy to Jerry Lee, unknown he is not dead. 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 Dooley's 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.


The role of "Jerry Lee" was played by more than one dog, including backups/stand-ins.[1][2]


The film received mixed reviews from the Los Angeles Times, praising the actors but not the routine plot. "It's enjoyable, thanks not only to its charismatic duo, but also to the skilled comedy direction of Rod Daniel."[3] Additionally, The New York Times gave the film mixed reviews, stating it had "no shred of credibility", yet contains "cutesy, surefire dog tricks" and a "breezy pacing".[4] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film "2 stars".[5] The Washington Post complimented Jerry Lee's performance.[6]

K-9 currently holds a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 46% audience approval).[7]


Music composed by John Williams / Courtesy of MCA Records

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

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

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

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


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