Reservoir Dogs wasn’t the first movie that Quentin Tarantino made, but it was the breakthrough title where people started talking about the actor, writer and director behind this now-seminal mob crime flick. Half a dozen dedicated psychopaths are brought together for a jewellery heist, knowing each other only by the colours given to them. But they’re all arrested before they get away, and it transpires that one is the police informer, but which one? Pick your colour!
In it are all the classic Tarantino touches, like non-linear chronologies, unexpected extreme violence, super-long shots and interesting blends of contemporary music and narrative. If you don’t follow flash-backs easily or handle mutilation well, then this isn’t the movie for you; but then neither are the majority of those created by Tarantino.
The only problem I have with Reservoir Dogs is that I saw it after the later Pulp fiction, and it’s slightly overshadowed by that superior work. But it’s still got some great performances by the likes of Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel. In the lore of this movie, however, it’s the people who didn’t accept roles that are almost as famous. Christopher Walken, James Woods, David Duchovny, George Clooney and Samuel L. Jackson all either auditioned or were asked, but declined.
What does the blu-ray format contribute to the Reservoir Dogs experience? It ranges from relatively little to absolutely nothing depending what aspect precisely you’re talking about. The sharpness of the image and colour reproduction is great, possibly better than I recall seeing on celluloid. Tarantino tends to like the odd grainy scene, but we’re not talking Tony Scott extremes, and within the scope of this production it adds the natural lighting that pervades this production. Sound is also very impressive considering the budget and era, which has been remixed here for both DTS-HD 6.1 Matrixed Surround and Dolby Digital Surround EX soundtracks. I’d love to say that this film really needed those, but actually it doesn’t.
If you’ve already seen the 15 th anniversary two-disc DVD then there isn’t a huge amount here that’s new, if anything. It has six deleted scenes, multiple commentaries, a featurette and some very odd-ball stuff. Myself I prefer the commentaries rather than enforcements of Tarantino’s personal strangeness. The majority of content has been re-mastered in HD, but some isn’t, including the 2-minute “Reservoir Dolls” that recreates the ear cutting sequence with action figures.
The full collection of extra material includes;
- Commentary with Quentin Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender and selected cast and crew
- Pulp Factoid Viewer
- The Critics’ Commentaries (Amy Taubin, Peter Travers and Emanuel Levy)
- Playing It Fast and Loose – Documentary
- Profiling the Reservoir Dogs
- Tipping Guide
- Deleted Scenes (6)
- The Class of ’92: Sundance Interviews
- Tarantino’s Sundance Institute Film-makers Lab
- An Introduction to Film Noir: Writers and Film-makers feature
- Dedications – Tarantino on his influences
- Securing the Shot: Location Scouting with Billy Fox feature
- Original Interviews with Tarantino and cast
- Reservoir Dolls
- K-Billy Super Sounds of the 70’s
- Reservoir Dogs Style Guide
The shortest piece is the Style Guide at 22 seconds, and the longest is “Class Of “92” at nearly 29 minutes. If you add it all up, there is at least 90 minutes worth of material, possibly more here.
At first I thought there had been some muck-up, because Play among other sites claim that this is a two-disc version, but it isn’t. What they’d done is use a single 50GB disc rather than two 25GB ones. Smart move, I’d say.
I can’t actually comment on the nicety or otherwise of the ‘petrol can’ packaging, because my review version was devoid of that aspect. But I’ve been told they can get dented in the post.
As much as is here, I can’t resist feeling that a gouging 20 th anniversary Blu-ray edition is coming, or am I just as cynical as some of the characters in this movie?
The bottom-line is that this is a great movie, and it’s seen in good quality on Blu-ray, much better than some of the washed out DVD transfers. If you’ve never seen it, then this is the perfect venue. But if you have the previous special DVD release then you’re not going to get as much out of this as you might want for the money. But that’s a choice you need to make yourself.
Reservoir Dogs is a nice-to-have, but I wouldn’t cut off anyone’s ear to get it.
Reservoir Dogs Collector’s Edition blu-ray is out now.