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Swearing, violence, blood and super cool fragmented stories…sound familiar? It should do if you follow the egocentrism of a certain Quentin Tarantino. In his first true cinematic endeavour, Tarantino flexes a muscle that would be eyed with great interest by cinemagoers everywhere. Ten years after its release, Reservoir Dogs has endured a smooth passing into the new millennium and has been graced with a great little DVD package. But can it live up to the standards of more recent anniversary editions? Read on to find out.

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Film
Sure, he pumps films with jovial amounts of violence and slips a swearword into every other sentence, but you’ve just got to admire his spirit. Tarantino’s films have become something of an iconic reference over the years. Critics and fans follow not his character inventions, nor his creative storytelling, but his dialogue. Some of the most memorable lines in recent years have been uttered in Tarantino movies, most of them too harsh for print here, but all of them charged with an unforgettable assuredness.

Reservoir Dogs looks and feels like his 1994 feature; Pulp Fiction. It has the same gritty look, the same character palate and even a similar theme and tone. Though whereas Pulp Fiction earned him the recognition he deserved in the mainstream, Reservoir Dogs garnered him his foundations, his roots.

As you would expect, the casting is nailed with a sinister perfection. Steve Buscemi steals the show as Mr. Pink in my opinion, but the rest of the cast shines. Harvey Keitel (Mr. White), Tim Roth (Mr. Orange), Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde) and Chris Penn (as Eddie) deliver first rate performances as menacing gangster affiliates. Michael Madsen gives the film’s most chilling and spine shattering performance. By the films end you may just be positively clenching your fists at his mere presence.

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The story centres on several strangers, each of whom are assigned codenames to avoid recognition. All have been hand picked by the mafia boss for a special assignment involving a jewellery heist in downtown Los Angeles. Of course not all goes exactly to plan; when the robbery goes awry and blood starts to spill, Tarantino guides us through elaborately filmed flashback to unveil the troubles and misfortunes of the villains to be. It’s fantastic to see this level of creative thinking in such an early profile, but as we all came to realise just two years later, we haven’t even see a glimmer of what Tarantino is capable of.

Though the movie is clearly low budget, Quentin and his cinematographer were able to create a visual stunner. The sets are purposefully gritty and dingy yet never truly come off as being low budget fare. I realised only by the time the credits began to roll that Reservoir Dogs is set in no more than five locations or sets. Yet it’s equally amazing how this powerful dialogue and coolness pulls you though without a trace of boredom in sight.

Reservoir Dogs oozes coolness within every frame, it’s often harsh and extraordinarily violent but it always has taste and always manages to be somewhat enjoyable from a perverse sense of irony. Quentin Tarantino has evolved in form during the last ten years, and it pleases me that he hasn’t forgotten his roots; in fact he has played homage to them if anything. This is a film all who are interested in his style should see. It might not have the glorious sweep that Pulp Fiction has, nor the daunting slap that Kill Bill delivers but its essential viewing all the same.

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Video
Having never seen the previous releases of Reservoir Dogs I can only delve into the plusses and shortcomings of this particular release. This collector’s edition is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and the video is mostly solid with sharp images, pretty good colour definition and some interesting uses of film tinting.

I’d have to say that this image was superb overall. I couldn’t really fault it to any lengthy degree; it was as good a picture quality as a film of this budget could possibly have. The odd grainy sequences here and there really couldn’t dampen the clarity displayed throughout both indoor and outdoor locales. Faces were brightly lit, yet not too over radiant or too false. Skin tones were virtually bang-on as were the fine detail aspects of the transfer. Overall this is a good and solid print with few flaws and much juicy imagery to flaunt.

Audio
Packing both Dolby and DTS options onto the disc was an impressive feat but was it really worth it? Dialogue driven films never really benefit from balls to the wall DTS mixes. It’s always nice to have the option but it usually makes little difference all the same.

That comment may be somewhat disregarded with this release however. I distinctly noticed a few differences between the two soundtracks, the DTS being the most preferable option between them. There may be an almost abundant flourish of directional effects (fore or rear) and a complete lack of lower end sound, but the DTS mix blasts out clearer dialogue and musical tones. Don’t get me wrong though, both are as good as each other, but if one had to chose then the DTS would have to be the one to go with.

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Extras
Spread over two discs and packing plenty on both, Reservoir Dogs delivers a clearly impressive host of behind the scenes documentation and insight into the film. The commentary on the first disc featuring Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Bender and few others can drag on for a bit sometimes but it’s real disappointment is the fact that it isn’t in fact a recorded session. Though it may have the distinct feel that it is; it’s actually snippets of dialogue from interviews cleverly patched together.

On the plus side though the menu system has simply got to be one of the coolest ever made. It features the infamous scene in the warehouse when Mr. White and Mr. Pink come to blows. The camera kind of bobs about from side to side while the abnormally large arrow manoeuvres around over the characters at your request. It fits the film perfectly.

The theatrical trailer on disc one is okay enough, but I wonder exactly why this was included on this disc as opposed to disc two. Strange, but its no big deal. It just would have been better suited to the real extras disc. Class Of ’92 is an interesting collection of interviews but the Sundance Institute’s Filmmakers Lab might please you a tad more with its production footage.

The deleted scenes shed some light on omitted sequences; something which may just have hardcore Tarantino fans standing up and cheering. Tributes and Dedications offer some more interviews, this time about Eddie Bunker and Lawrence Tierney. While Securing the Shot shows you some of the locations used during filming, including photos and scouting duties etc.

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Overall
A superb little DVD package that should easily impress fans of Tarantino as well as draw in those who have always been curious. The film is what you are going to buy this set for, a film which has been billed as a cult classic by many and has been embraced by critics and fans alike.

The technical aspects of this DVD are nicely presented. Menus are slick, authentic and oh-so cool. The transfer could have probably been a tad better, but delivers every frame with a crisp clarity. The Dolby and DTS sound options are also impressive, though clearly centre-focused. Feature-wise this disc is probably the best source for all you who wanted to know about the movie, its production and some other trivia.


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