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CHUD's DVD review : Resevoir Dogs


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STUDIO: Artisan

MSRP:$26.98 RATED: R

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES:

* Deleted scenes

* Two never-before-seen alternate angles of the famous "EAR" scene

* Tarantino's Sundance Institute Directors Workshop Lab

* Class of '92

* All-new interviews

* Tribute to Lawrence Tierney

* Reservoir Dogs director tribute

* Film Noir Web

* Real-Life Dogs

* Small Dogs

* Select scene audio commentary

* K-BILLY interactive radio

* Automobile style guide

* Securing the shot: location scouting with Billy Fox

* Poster gallery

 

 

 

Forget the comparisons to the Hong Kong effort City of Fire, forget the post Pulp Fiction Tarantino backlash, and forget the dozens upon dozens of films to ape the style and mindset largely kickstarted by this film.

 

Ten years on, Reservoir Dogs is getting a sort of special edition from Artisan and it couldn't come at a better time with Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction also getting the royal treatment.

 

Is the film that helped make the names of Tarantino, Buscemi, Roth, and Madsen as good as remembered?

 

...and like that, the Electric Boogaloo was created.

 

The Flick

 

"I just wanted to find out what happened if Destiny turned on the radio ."

 

From the first few minutes of footage, it was obvious that Reservoir Dogs was something new. It's so easy to take the loose, conversational, pop culture ridden dialogue for granted now after seemingly every guy with a camera and a typewriter attempted a crime film in Tarantino's wake. Just like the spate of "hood" films that followed John Singleton's debut, the shelves of video stores are awash in films that want to be Reservoir Dogs. Not unlike how every action film wanted to be "Die Hard in a __________.", they tried to take the fast talking criminals and pop them into every conceivable setting known to man and beast.

 

And it makes sense. This film is as fresh and fun today as it was in 1991.

 

"Good God, you didn't tell me you crossbred jackals with Martin Balsam!"

 

Brought together by the mysterious but connected mobster Joe (Lawrence Tierney, who sadly now spends his time beneath the Earth) and his son Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), a diverse group of thugs are presented with a potentially big time jewel heist.

 

Using code names like "Mr. White" and "Mr. Blonde", the gang (consisting of Tarantino, Roth, Madsen, Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, and former real life con Eddie Bunker) debate, bicker, and test each other's mettle, and actually get a little time to pull off a crime in the process.

 

Keitel paused, knowing that Abel Ferrera was out there, waiting.

 

The plot is no secret to just about everyone with veins. We've all seen it, come to our conclusions, and if you haven't seen the film I must simply tell you to log off the web and go buy it.

 

What I want to do is cover WHY it's a classic.

 

"Kid, trust me. Your headache's nothing a glass of gin and a screening of Scanner Cop couldn't solve."

 

There are few feature debuts for a writer/director as memorable as this one. Tarantino's confidence, knack for dialogue, and fluid camerawork instantly propelled the film from the crop of indie films to the fore. It was at that time when a lot of people equated the term "independent" with "boring".

 

I remember reading about the film in EMPIRE magazine a good deal before it was released here and having to force my friends to the arthouse theater when it came out. Even from stills, the black suits and sunglasses and pistols dynamic seemed RIGHT.

 

Add that soundtrack (if nothing, Tarantino is rivaled only by Cameron Crowe in finding the perfect marriage of music and movie), the time displacement the film uses (which is almost as singularly identified with Tarantino as twist endings are with Shyamalan), and the perfect cast at the perfect time and the result is one of the five best crime films ever made.

 

Somehow the comedic team Penn and Tele never caught on...

 

Of the performances, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Harvey Keitel's shine the brightest. Roth's is the most complex, a British actor playing an American cop playing and American crook. While there are a few moments where his true tongue peeks out from the performance, he is given the most meat and considering the fact that half of his screen time is spent bleeding profusely from the gut.

 

Madsen has the most iconic and memorable role, and while the actor is 90% subtlety... it's hard not to love his sexy, subdued, and utterly menacing performance. I still harbor hope that eventually the long rumored Vega Brothers film (remember, he's playing the brother of Travolta's Pulp Fiction character) comes to fruition, because Madsen's career has become nothing more than a steady diet of direct-to-video crapshoots. I miss ol' Mike.

 

With the grace and old fashioned charm of early Brando and Mitchum, Madsen quietly shits his pants.

 

This is a leaner, meaner, and thankfully CLOTHED Keitel In addition, the actor helped cuddle this project all the way through the process and without his help it may have ended up on the shelf or worse... dumbed down for the Bruckheimer market. He anchors the film and this work certainly helped the actor made a huge dent in the early to mid 90's. Good, solid work.

 

Reservoir Dogs is as quotable as they get, laced with cool music, and acted, written, and directed just about perfectly. Some would say it's still Quentin's best film but I think if there's a fault the film has it's how lean it is. It's a quick film, nowhere near as epic and diverse as Pulp Fiction, and it ends rather abruptly.

 

If you own the crappy existing DVD, take it to the used DVD shop.

 

If you've never seen it, buy it without hesitation.

 

If you are on the fence, check below to see if the special features warrant a double dip.

 

9.2 out of 10

 

Three frames before Taylor Negron slides down the pole, killing the coolness of the scene.

 

The Look

 

I hated the first DVD for this flick. It was mediocre on nearly every front. I was worried this would be more of the same, as Artisan sometimes works a surplus of special features around a mediocre presentation.

 

Thankfully, this is a really nice looking DVD.

 

Shot for a relative pittance, this certainly isn't a visual showcase like a David Fincher film but the delivery is nice and crystal clear. Definitely the best I've ever seen this film looking.

 

There's also a fullscreen version for mouthbreathers.

 

"What am I looking at? Are you a member of Hollywood's hung jury or are we in a Frank Hennenlotter film?"

 

9.0 out of 10

 

 

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The Noise

 

 

Keitel respected the Kurd tradition of lighting your foe's cigarette before punching their balls clean off.

 

DTS? 5.1? 2.0?

 

Yep, they're all here.

 

I was astounded how nice this disc sounded. The music especially. For a dialogue heavy film, the nuances of the audio presentation often go by the wayside. Thanks to the occasional flurries of gunfire and the music, the whole package hits home in a very surprising, robust audio delivery.

 

9.0 out of 10

 

The Goodies

 

When I first found out this was a 2 disc set, I really expected the mother lode in Reservoir Dogs extra material. Instead, I kind of got the brother load...

 

Or so I thought.

 

The back of the box speaks of a huge, diverse features but the package's discs don't mention the special features. One disc says "widescreen" and the other says "fullscreen". After going through the widescreen one all the way through I at first assumed the fullscreen version was identical.

 

Nope, a look yielded the rest of the advertised features and they make a HUGE difference on the overall value of the set.

 

The main feature, or at least the one I was most looking forward to was the commentary track. As it turns out, it's the most disappointing feature on the disc.

 

It's a cobbled together group of interviews of TONS of folks involved with the film and if given the choice it'd have just been Tarantino, a few stars, and MAYBE Lawrence Bender. Instead, it's a bit too fat and nowhere near as fun as I expected. However, if you want to know the intrinsic details about the film's path from unpolished, misspelled draft to box office hit this is a solid track. For me, it was a letdown.

 

There are a few deleted scenes, and it's a good thing they were deleted from the finished film because they'd have seriously sapped the film's momentum. Additionally, there are two different looks at how the famous "ear" sequence was shot. Bad FX obviously kept one from being used, but they're both interesting.

 

There's a few things regarding the RD action figures, including a humorous "music video". There's tons of interviews with the cast and director and they're pretty interesting but also kind of scary.

 

I already knew Tarantino peppered his sentences with "Alright" and "OK", but it seems here like he had an insane quota to reach. It's almost too much, and the recent stuff with him (on his dedications, etc.) shows the director looking a little unhealthy.

 

After further inspection, it's actually a substantial little collection. My favorite of all the features is a tribute to the late Tierney. Fun stuff.

 

If you dig Reservoir Dogs, you'll want to chalk up some serious time to wade through this stuff. Extra credit goes to the funky design of the interactive menus.

 

8.0 out of 10

 

The Artwork

 

Multiple covers tend to suck. Thankfully, the external slipsleeve is the only part of the package that's different. There are covers tailored around the dogs, the one I got in the mail was the "Mr. Orange" Tim Roth design.

 

It's pretty eye catching actually.

 

It's clean, striking, and not too convoluted.

 

Things aren't as sweet in the snapcase beneath. Instead of using one of the three well known poster images from the film, the DVD case features an amalgam of Pink, White, Blonde, and Orange covers.

 

I'd always prefer a poster image over heads, but since there's a slip over the image, it's small potatoes.

 

Nice.

 

7.4 out of 10

 

THE FLICKS: 9.2

THE LOOK: 9.0

THE NOISE: 9.0

THE GOODIES: 8.0

THE ARTWORK: 7.4

OVERALL: 9.1

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  • 2 months later...

Artisan Home Entertainment's August 27th release of Reservoir Dogs 10th Anniversary Special Edition came in five different character-themed covers. According to the studio's numbers, the Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) packaging has accounted for 40% of total units sold, followed by Mr. Blond (Michael Madsen) at 20%, Mr. Brown (Tarantino) at 15%, and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) each between 5-10%. "At this point in time, we’ve sold so many Mr. Pinks that Pink has been on back order (two weeks)," said Jeff Fink, president of sales and marketing for Artisan Home Entertainment. "He’s very popular."

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