Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 6-Aug-2008

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Playing It Fast and Loose
Featurette-Profiling the Dogs
Trivia-Pulp Factoids
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 100:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor
LIVE America Inc.
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Harvey Keitel
Tim Roth
Michael Madsen
Chris Penn
Steve Buscemi
Lawrence Tierney
Steven Wright
Case ?
RPI ? Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD High Resolution Audio 6.1 ES Discrete
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (640Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Smoking Yes, Lots of it!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is now 20 years since Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs was released to an unprepared public and overnight changed the film landscape. Quentin Tarantino went from the video store clerk to the hottest property in indie cinema in the blink of an eye. It began his long association with Harvey Weinstein and Miramax which, depending upon the way you look at it, was either the saviour or death knell of independent moviemaking.

     The creation of Reservoir Dogs has become the stuff of myths and legends. In his book Quentin Tarantino-the Man, the Myth and his Movies writer Wensley Clarkson seeks to dispel the perception that Tarantino was some geeky kid who knocked out a movie on the cheap which made him a megastar. In truth, the Tarantino in his book is the same video store clerk who spend his spare hours watching lots of good movies, as well as the bad ones, which would come to influence his style. However, the story of the making of the film is one of continual joy and heartbreak with the project struggling to make it off the ground. Quentin's singular vision and a reluctance to compromise made it harder for the film to progress through ordinary channels but the support of a group of believers including producer friend Lawrence Bender, actor Harvey Keitel and maverick director Monte Hellman allowed the script, all of expletives and pop culture references, to continue to generate heat.

     What is undeniable is that the film made Quentin a legend with his first release, putting in the shade the long path towards success that greeted similar mavericks Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. Not for Quentin the progression of short films, odd indie flicks and little-seen debuts. This film led straight to Pulp Fiction, and the rest is history. It also cannot be ignored that Robert Redford and his Sundance Festival had a role to play, not just at the script workshop stage. It was probably the controversy which saw the film premiere to equal measures of cheers and disgust at the festival which ultimately helped it on its way. It became the buzz movie of 1992. Sundance, which had traditionally hosted and supported the films of independent filmmakers of a gentler kind, was criticised as selling out for allowing this dark and dirty picture the screen.

     Now, some 20 years later it is still possible to see what the fuss was about. The rat-a-tat dialogue which would become trademark Tarantino is very much in evidence and very sharp. The blood and violence can still shock and the torture scene is still quease inducing mainly because it is not in a horror film. Some of the pop culture references may have fallen out of vogue. The opening Like a Virgin dialogue seems a little quaint (although the Material Girl is still around) and if Tarantino was writing it today no doubt Lady Gaga or Katy Perry would be the references. Also, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the identifiable Tarantino trademarks seen heavy footed. As one of the commentators says, in a featurette which accompanies this Blu-ray, watching the film today is to experience a number of clichés only to be struck by the realisation that Quentin invented them.

     ...or stole them, depending on your point of view. Much has been written in the past about Tarantino's tendency to borrow from other films. He openly acknowledges Stanley Kubrick's The Killing as an influence, particularly as to the fractured narrative, however equally eager B-movie and world movie cinefiles took Quentin to task over the similarities between the film and the Chow Yun Fat gangster movie City of Fire. Some saw this as evidence that Tarantino was no great talent but merely an imitator of other talents. Others saw in him the ultimate modern filmmaker capable of appropriating, riffing on an improving existing sources.

     The plot of Reservoir Dogs is well known and largely irrelevant. Tarantino introduces us to a group of cool looking criminals sitting in a diner talking about Madonna. They are mostly identified only by their colours. Pink (Steve Buscemi), White (Keitel), Brown (Tarantino), Blonde (Michael Madsen), Blue (Eddie Bunker) and Orange (Tim Roth). Meanwhile associates like Nice Guy Eddie(Chris Penn) and the mastermind Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) bicker and banter.

     The movie is audacious in confounding expectations. The set-up is largely a discussion of irrelevancies followed by the chaos of the aftermath of the successful/unsuccessful robbery. They got away with the diamonds and are holed up in a warehouse, avoiding the cops. So good so far but plenty of people, civilians and cops got shot. Some of their number also bit the bullet. The only questions remaining are twofold-who ratted out the gang and how the hell do they get out of there?

     Reservoir Dogs was released on Blu-ray in 2008 but this copy was provided for review as part of the comprehensive Quentin Tarantino Collection.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Reservoir Dogs comes to Blu-ray in the original cinematic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film had its release on DVD in this Region in the correct ratio so the Blu-ray doesn't seek to right any past wrongs.

     This is the best the film has looked and perhaps will ever look. That said, it is still a transfer of a low budget film and looks every inch a movie made on the cheap. The colours are pretty washed out with the exception of the very scarlet blood that is splashed everywhere.

     The transfer is the same as the US Region A release in that it uses the MPEG-2 codec. It is considered old technology but in the right hands can compete with MPEG-4. This is a decent transfer which fits on to a BD-25. Fans that already have the original release, which dates back to 2008, should be aware that by buying this film as part of the Quentin Tarantino Collection that it is not a remaster or new release.

     The film is clean and clear of all but the most minor artefacts. The flesh tones are pretty accurate and the colours, though anything but vivid, are stable. It has the grain level consistent with the original release.

     There are subtitles in English and Spanish. The subtitles are an accurate reflection of the spoken word.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Reservoir Dogs carries two English language soundtracks. One is a Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 running at 640 Kb/s and the prime track is a DTS-HD 6.1 which runs at 3039 Kb/s.

     Any High Definition track is welcome. Fans may have preferred a lossless DTS HD Master Audio track but it is questionable whether it makes a difference in this case. The film sounds at its prime with the DTS track. It is still not, however, an aural playground. The film was shot and recorded on the cheap, with overlapping dialogue and music.

     There isn't really much for the surrounds and the sub-woofer to accomplish. It wouldn't be Tarantino without a killer music track and Reservoir Dogs became the first film I can recall to take forgotten songs, often daggy ones like Stuck in the Middle With You and give them a new cool. The songs sound like the era and have not been digitally scrubbed to within an inch of their lives for sonic precision.

     All in all an appropriate sonic presentation.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Reservoir Dogs was released on DVD in a 2 DVD Collector's Edition which was stuffed with extras. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the Blu-ray edition has a paucity of extra materials. Maybe it was felt that true fans would have already picked up the Collector's Edition and therefore the repetition of extras was redundant... or maybe they couldn't be bothered.

     The Collector’s Edition had the following extras:

  1. Original Interviews - Cast and Crew
  2. Critics Commentaries
  3. K-Billy Radio
  4. Class of '92
  5. Sundance Filmmaker's Lab (11:34)
  6. Tributes & Dedications
  7. The Film Noir Web
  8. The Noir Files (Text)
  9. Dave's Handy Pocket Guide to the Big Three - more text.
  10. How To Handle a Gun - even more text
  11. Small Dogs
  12. Securing the Shot
  13. Reservoir Dogs Style Guide
  14. Poster Gallery
  15. Deleted Scenes
  16. Audio Commentary by writer/director Quentin Tarantino, producers Lawrence Bender and Monte Hellman, editor Sally Menke, DOP Andrzej Sekula, and four of the actors.

     What is there to be found on this Blu-ray?

Deleted Scenes

     The same deleted scenes from the DVD including two versions of the ear slicing scene, including one with the dodgy prosthetic ear that kept falling off in the heat! These scenes are raw like sushi and would not have been out of place in the Grindhouse films.

Profiling the Reservoir Dogs

     A pretty dodgy attempt to psychoanalyse each of the dogs by looking at their imagined life histories and identifying their personality traits. Missable.

Playing It Fast and Loose

     A gathering of "experts" debate the significance of the film. There are some interesting moments to be had but altogether the piece feels lightweight.

Pulp Factoids

     A trivia track which pops up throughout the film with titbits of information. I sampled this for a while and found it mildly interesting but has anyone actually watched a movie through with the trivia track on?

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This is the same as the Region A Blu-ray release.

Summary

     Reservoir Dogs is a burnout mark in the history of modern cinema - a point where the cinematic rubber hit the road and the pulp of the seventies became recreated as cool and creditworthy.

     This film is down and dirty and the Blu-ray vastly improves the DVD look without destroying the gritty aesthetic.

     The extras are pretty limp though.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, February 04, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
U.K Lionsgate Blu-Ray -