Reservoir Dogs: 10th Anniversary Edition

Reservoir Dogs: 10th Anniversary Edition (1992)
Artisan Entertainment
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth
Extras: Commentary Track, Interviews, Deleted Scenes, Director’s Tribute, Featurettes, Poster Gallery and much more

res·er·voir (re-zer-vwaar) n.
1. A natural or artificial pond or lake used for the storage and regulation of water.
2. A receptacle or chamber for storing a fluid.

This definition has nothing to do with the movie. And if you’ve never heard of or watched the film, or are not familiar with Quentin Tarantino, you might think the movie is about a dog that lives in a reservoir. The movie is far from that. Unless you’re in an ‘Understanding Film’ class, and you look at symbolism deeply then yes, it could be about a dog that lives in a natural or artificial pond. But let’s clarify that "Reservoir Dogs" does not have anything to do with the above definition before you jump head long into this film.

The title "Reservoir Dogs" actually came from "Au revoir les enfants", a French film by Louis Malle. Tarantino, who was working at a video store, couldn’t pronounce the title and combined it with "Straw Dogs", a Sam Peckinpah film, to produce the title, "Reservoir Dogs."

It is this film that sparked Tarantino’s career. He wrote the script, then the process became a classic case of ‘friend knows friend who knows Harvey Keitel story’ and the rest is history – Tarantino got his first film made.

In 1988 Quentin had written his second script, "Natural Born Killers", and sold his first script, "True Romance", for $50,000. He used this money to finance his third script, "Reservoir Dogs". In a nut-shell, Tarantino met Lawrence Bender (Producer) who knew someone who knew someone who knew Harvey Keitel ((Mr. White), who read the script, was impressed and raised more money to finance the movie. The movie really got a kick-start after shooting some scenes at Sundance with Quentin and Steve Buscemi playing Mr.White and Mr. Pink respectively. Reservoir Dogs premiered at Sundance ‘92 before appearing at other film festivals around the World. Miramax picked it up for distribution and released it in the US later that year and in the UK the next year. And now we celebrate "Reservoir Dogs" the 10th Anniversary.

"Reservoir Dogs" establishes the classic Tarantino-esque, dark, non-linear, dialogue driven, action filled, black comedy that he is known to direct: Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms, Jackie Brown, etc. This movie is about a group of strangers banded together to pull off a big diamond robbery. What seems like the perfect plan turns into a bath of suspicious accusations, torture and blood. Friendships, alliances and codes are broken. In the end, anything is possible.

Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink), Harvey Keitel (Mr. White) Tim Roth (Mr. Orange), Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde), Chris Penn (Nice Guy Eddie), and Lawrence Tierney (Joe Cabot) all provide hard core cut to the bone performances. They wear their emotions on their sleeves in this one and everything that needs to be said is said. You’ll fall in love with Steve Buscemi’s (the funny looking guy in Fargo!) hard edged, by the book, don’t tell me your name character, Mr. Pink. Even Tarantino (Mr. Brown) delivers his own unique, off-the-wall type of dialogue in a small bit role at the beginning of the movie.

Rockin’ to "K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies Weekend" (a radio show in the movie), we follow the ups and downs of character emotion, plot twists, crafty dialogue and graphic (seen and implied) violence. Tarantino paints vivid pictures of scenes in this movie through the dialogue and not through actual photography. This movie is not for the easily queasy or weak of heart. It’s pumped full of bad language, deceit and violence. Yes, it’s offensive to many, but I LIKE IT! I enjoy this movie every time I watch it from the perspective of story, writing, film-making and Tarantino’s directorial choices.

Tarantino didn’t pull any punches when he shot this film – but Artisan Home Entertainment did when they remastered the transfer. "Reservoir Dogs: 10th Anniversary Edition" is the second release of the title onto DVD, now to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. The two-disc set features a newly remastered 2.35:1 <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer on one <$RSDL,dual-layer> disc, and a <$PS,pan and scan> presentation on a separate one. Before the release of the DVD, I read reviews that stated the new transfer seemed to exhibit poor contrast, though my first impression was, ‘Hey, this is a pretty sharp picture’. I decided to slip in Artisan’s previous DVD release of the film and discovered the statements were absolutely true – in a number of scenes the colors are now washed out and muted, and blacks are noticeably grayer than in the original release. Black levels could have been much deeper, improving contrast and thus dimensionality of the image. As such the presentation is certainly a disappointment, as you would have expected a remastered video transfer that improves on some of the weaknesses and limitations of the original release, rather than making things worse.

"Reservoir Dogs" is mostly dialogue driven, and those are implemented clear and crisp. It’s not the most exciting soundtrack but Artisan offers a <$DTS,DTS> audio track, as well as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, which adds to the hip, head-boppin’ soundtrack of cool songs from the seventies. This provides the best audio parts of the movie and does not get in the way of the dialogue. It adds to scenes with that odd Tarantino uniqueness.

You are offered five different Collectible Limited Edition packages to chose from with this release: Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Orange and Mr. Blue. It’s a mere gimmick and each features the same DVD content, of course, although each package features a small insert with screenshots of the specific character on the swinging flap package. Dishing out money for the whole Collectors set (which does not include Mr. Brown) might be a hard sell since the DVDs are the same in each.

The DVD is filled with special features and is well worth the money for new "Reservoir Dogs" fans and DVD collector’s alike. Included special features are documentaries and featurettes containing interviews with Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Quentin Tarantino and others. The deleted scenes include two never-before-seen alternate angles of the infamous "EAR" scene. Learn how Madsen took it upon himself to get the cop (Marvin Nash) prepared for his role before filming!

This is a tricky release since the vide transfer is such a let-down. It is still a decent transfer but it doesn’t score any points due to the fact that with a bit of care and foresight, it could have been improved significantly. The movie itself is a bloody film and in typical Tarantino fashion, it is filled with clever dialogue, non-linear story telling and tons of profanity. It’s an edgy film that keeps you on the verge of utter disgust yet excites you and completely holds your interest. Based on special features alone, you’ll get more than your money’s worth on just one of the five different DVD packages. But you might find yourself purchasing the whole set for your collection. I know I will.