HTF REVIEW: "Reservoir Dogs" Tenth Anniversary Special Edition (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 8, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Reservoir Dogs Special Edition

    Studio: Artisan
    Year: 1992
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 100 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    and Standard (1.33:1) Transfer

    "Are you gonna bark all day little
    doggie or are you gonna bite?"

    Let's not kid ourselves. Reservoir Dogs
    is one of the coolest movies ever made.
    It's a neo-violent joyride full of raw power,
    unyeilding brutality and frequent dark humor
    whose motion flows seamlessly with music long
    In one of those rare but memorable cinematic
    moments, the film opens as a group of thugs are
    seated around a restaurant table. As the camera
    continually circles around them we hear a
    conversation on, among other things, tipping
    philosophies and interpretations of Madonna's
    "Like a Virgin." The dialogue is ingenious. As
    the men rise and leave the table we hear the
    radio sounds of K-Billy (Steven Wright), announcing
    his Super Sounds of the 70s. The screen goes
    black as George Baker's Little Green Bag
    starts to play.
    This is the very first film from writer and Director
    Quentin Tarantino, who always knows where to put
    the camera, when to cut to a flashback and how to
    draw the best work from his brilliant cast.
    A jewelry store robbery has gone wrong for a
    group of thieves. Two members the gang are
    dead, and several are still missing. The survivors,
    including Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Pink (Steve
    Buscemi), and a critically-injured Mr. Orange
    (Tim Roth), are stuck in a warehouse, trying to
    figure out what to do next. Arguments and suspicions
    run high, as White and Pink discuss the possibility
    of a traitor in their midst. The tension further
    escalates when Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) shows
    up with a surprise in the trunk of his car.
    Though some would complain that Reservoir Dogs
    is nothing more than a foul-mouthed film with
    unnecessary violence, It's actually these traits
    that help develop the character's personalities,
    showing their utter disregard for human life.
    How is the transfer?
    What happened with this transfer?!
    I was not impressed with this newly remastered
    transfer. While the print is in immaculate
    condition, looking very clean and without any
    noticeable film grain, I was shocked to see how
    washed out this film looks. You see it right
    from the opening titles as the gang struts along
    a brick wall. You'll see it again later in many
    of the film's exterior shots such as when Eddie
    Cabot is driving in his car trying to reach his
    Daddy on the cell phone. It looks as if these
    scenes were filmed through smoke or sheer cloth.
    There's a certain lack of sharpness and detail
    in the picture as well.
    What bothers me even more is this strange green
    tinge that haunts some of the interior scenes.
    Though it's only slight, it's enough to bother
    you and make you wonder why its there in the
    first place.
    I also need to mention that there are no English
    subtitles on this DVD. How can this studio release
    such an elaborate package while ignoring the
    hearing impaired? There is absolutely no excuse
    for the lack of subtitles on this DVD.
    The 5.1 DTS mix can be described as mostly adequate,
    though one must remember that this is mostly a
    dialogue driven film. What I did find impressive
    was the remarkable stereo separation and the
    detailed clarity of the sound. The beginning
    sequence inside the restaurant places the dialogue
    firmly in the center, but you can also hear the more
    subtle sounds of utensils clanking alongside it.
    These very quiet passages come through with
    amazing clarity that gets suddenly interrupted with the
    booming sounds of the film's 70s soundtrack that
    had my subwoofer shaking the floor.
    What did seem to fall short was the robbery
    shoot out sequence. The rears failed to capture
    the sounds of flying bullets, making the film's
    only action sequence seem subdued. The sounds
    of wailing police sirens and helicopter flyovers
    were cleverly diverted to the rear channel as
    well as the constant hum of the air conditioning
    system inside the warehouse where the gang is
    holed up for most of the film.
    Special Features
    Artisan has released a rather remarkable 2-disc
    Special Edition that comes in many flavors. You
    have your choice of 4 different covers: Mr. Blonde,
    Mr. White, Mr. Orange or Mr. Pink. I was very
    lucky to receive my screener with the cover that
    I wanted the most.
    A Widescreen version of the film resides
    on Disc One, while a Full-Frame version
    is presented on Disc Two. This is a great
    move by Artisan -- especially since having both
    these versions in one package hasn't seemed to raise
    the purchase price much above a single disc
    presentation. I hope more studios take note of what
    Artisan has done here.
    The DVD begins with a clever menu that gives
    us a montage of quick clips from the film in
    an oddly colorized fashion. Nice way to start
    the film.
    Though the menu states that the film contains
    commentary with writer/director Quentin
    Tarantino, Producer Lawrence Bender and select
    cast and crew, I can tell you exactly who
    appears here. In addition to the above, we hear
    Executive Producer Monte Hellman, Director of
    Photography Andrzej Sakula, Editor Sally Menke,
    and actors Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Michael Madsen
    and Kirk Baltz. The problem is, all these people
    are not in the studio together. Many of the featured
    commentaries are from taped sources. This results
    in the commentary coming across with very little
    emotion that results from a party of individuals.
    The commentary begins with Andrzej talking about
    how he created the floating movements of the
    characters in the opening sequence. He goes on
    to talk about many of his shots in the first 12
    minutes of the film, mostly handheld. At one point
    Quentin jokingly talks about Steve Buscemi's audition,
    and how he busted the actor's chops in order to get
    the best performance he could out of him. Thing was,
    Quentin knew Buscemi didn't need the audition. Tim
    Roth has a more serious tone in his comments talking
    about his former film career and what it was like
    to work with different directors. Editor Sally
    Menke talks about standard editing vs. computer
    editing and the advantages that the digital technology
    offers. Lawrence Bender talks about how difficult
    it was to edit this film since they loved so much
    of what they shot -- including the fact that this
    was their first and most special film. During the
    infamous "ear" scene, Quentin describes the kick
    he still gets when people imitate Michael's little
    dance. He describes it as the enjoyment that comes
    before the kill. Later, Quentin talks about the
    amount of sex that was common in independant cinema,
    but not violence. People were hoping that the film
    would be a breakout of sorts because of its violent
    Overall, the commentary is informative, but it
    certainly isn't as fun as it should have been.
    You mostly have a host introducing taped clips
    of commentaries that play throughout. It's hard
    to understand why on the 10th anniversary event
    of this film, the principal actors and filmmakers
    were unable to be brought together for a spontaneous
    commentary that would have kicked ass!
    Disc One extras include....
    Original Interviews with 6 of the major
    actors/filmmakers of the film done in a highly
    creative manner. First there's a hilarious
    interview with Chris Penn (Eddie Cabot)
    filmed in the back of the truck (watch the camera
    jump). Chris takes some funny jabs at Quentin
    Tarantino while talking about keeping up with
    all the fast action on the set. He shrugs off
    the violence of the film emphasizing what a
    high-pressure dialogue film this is. Filmed
    inside a warehouse, actor Kirk Baltz
    (the cop) has always wondered what it would be
    like to be driven in the trunk of a car. His
    wish was granted as he was taken around the
    block in the trunk while totally in the darkness.
    Kirk fondly recalls working in rehearsals with
    Michael, trying to get him to slap him harder.
    Kirk tells an interesting story about the
    scene where he is about to be lit on fire and a
    piece of dialogue he happened to add. Let's
    go inside the house of actor Michael Madsen
    (Mr. Blonde), as we meet his kids, dog and pet
    bird. Madsen jokingly talks about the many ways
    he wanted to be killed off in the film as well as
    mocking about his disgust of not being on the cover
    of the film's novel. Watching this interview you
    get the idea that Madsen isn't too far off from
    the craziness of his character. Meet Producer
    Lawrence Bender who had a quick cameo in
    the film as a cop chasing Mr. Pink. Lawrence
    talks about his first meeting Quentin Tarantino
    while both were struggling with their careers.
    Their so-called "marriage" showed that the both
    working together would bring much success.
    Lawrence recalls how Tarantino wrote the script
    in a matter of 3 weeks. The casting process
    was quite memorable. Harvey Keitel flew Quentin
    and Lawrence to New York. All three sat in a room
    and had some interesting casting sessions with
    actors that brought real weapons with them to
    the audition. Let's go pool side with actor
    Tim Roth who tells us right off the bat
    that he is not a method actor. He usually just
    reads a script and asks the director questions.
    Given the choice of playing Mr. Blonde or Mr.
    Pink, Roth actually asked to play Mr. Orange
    since he was the good guy in the film. Roth
    goes on to talk about the atrocities of auditions
    and the reason why he no longer auditions for
    a film. Last but not least, we read the tale
    of Quentin Tarantino, who started his
    career working in a small video store. Quentin
    sounds and acts as he just drank a pot of coffee,
    rambling through this interview about how actor
    Harvey Keitel brought some legitimacy to the
    low-budget film project. Quentin attempts to
    describe his style of filmmaking, citing that
    the dialogue he writes comes very easily to him.
    It's better to have his characters talk about
    other things than just the plot, making the
    dialogue more authentic and entertaining to the
    (length: approx. 54 minutes)
    There are five deleted scenes presented
    here that include:
    * Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), sitting at his
    apartment table, looking through a book of
    mug shots. He places a phone call (voiced
    offscreen by another actor) inquiring about
    Mr. White's real name. Outside of a burger
    stand, a female cop gives a complete rundown
    of Mr. White's criminal past to both Mr.
    Orange and his black police contact.
    (length: approx. 4.5 minutes)
    * Mr. Orange and his black police contact are
    on a building rooftop, crouched over a piece of
    paper, discussing their plans. Orange learns
    that he is going into this situation totally
    unprotected from the police force.
    (length: approx. 2.5 minutes)
    * Eddie Cabot, Mr. Pink and Mr. White are
    riding in a car after the day's robbery. Cabot
    talks about the mission being a sort of success.
    The three begin to argue about the lack of medical
    care being given to Mr. Orange.
    (length: 2.5 minutes)
    * Two alternative takes of Mr. Blonde hacking
    off the cop's ear. The first shot is sort of
    tame as we see the cutting action blocked as
    the camera films it from the opposite side of the
    cop's head. But in the second sequence, we clearly
    see the ear (which looks very prosthetic) being
    cut off with extensive bleeding that follows.
    Finally, the film's original theatrical
    trailer is included.
    Let's now take a look at the extras that can
    be found on Disc Two...
    How did the critics feel about this film? In
    The Critics Commentaries we watch a
    few choice scenes and listen to the narratives
    of critics Amy Taubin (Film Comment),
    Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and
    Emanuel Levy (author). Most of the
    critics agree upon the film's remarkable
    flashback structure. Peter Travers rarely
    smiles during a movie, but recalls laughing
    out loud during the film's Madonna dialogue
    K-Billy radio is an interesting collection
    of audio interviews that you select by pressing
    your remote on a radio dial. One of the sound bytes
    is of Gerry Rafferty who talks about the creation
    of the song, Stick In The Middle With You,
    which is a song that came out of mayhem and
    craziness. Another is raw audio footage of
    Steven Wright (K-Billy) and Quentin Tarentino
    in a studio putting together the radio tags that
    appear in the film and CD soundtrack. Quentin
    and Steve are laughing hard between takes. Press
    the final button and you'll be treated to a
    hilarious rendition of Mr. Blonde and the cop
    recreated by Reservoir Dogs Dolls.
    Class of '92 Sundance Festival features
    interviews with those who remember some of the
    films and filmmakers of the '92 Sundance Film
    Festival where Reservoir Dogs was introduced.
    All the clips are rather short. Those who are
    really interested in independent films of that
    time will take more interest in these short
    interviews than most mainstream audiences.
    Tributes and Dedications as well as
    consist mostly of praises from the cast and
    filmmakers as well as directors like Roger Corman.
    One of the most enjoyable sequences in this section
    features a car interview with Eddie Bunker who
    along a Los Angeles freeway, talks about some of
    the wilder times of his youth. The Film Noir Web
    talks to writers and directors associated with
    the classic genre that Reservoir Dogs represents.
    There are interviews with Directors Mike Hodges,
    John Boorman and Stephen Frears who talk about
    their films as well as authors Robert Polito and
    Donald Westlake. The Noir Files contain
    pages of descriptive text that look at the roots
    of film noir. How to hold your gun is an
    interesting look at how guns were held and used in
    cinematic classics such as Bonnie and Clyde,
    The Wild Bunch
    and The Big Sleep.
    Small Dogs introduces us to the creators
    of the Reservoir Dogs action figures. We learn
    how some of these figures were individually
    designed while we are shown many of the accessories
    for each figure. Michael Madsen was heavily
    involved in the action figure project and is
    proud to have a bronze statue of himself inside
    his home.
    In Securing The Shot, features location
    scout Billy Fox who revisits the locales used
    in the film. The warehouse used for the film
    which was actually a mortuary. The apartment
    that Mr.Orange inhabited was actually another
    room located above the mortuary. A gay bar
    in the valley was used as the strip club where
    Mr. Orange told his rehearsed joke. A really
    cool look and listen as to how locations were
    chosen for this film.
    (length: Approx. 4 minutes)
    Reservoir Dogs Style Guide is an oh-so-brief
    montage of film clips accented with text that
    emphasizes the different styles of driving, maiming
    and killing in style!
    Finally, there's the poster gallery, which
    is actually one page devoted to the three theatrical
    poster styles used for the film.
    Final Thoughts
    I really wanted to compare this release to
    the original DVD release. Like the dummy I am,
    I sold it upon learning of this Special Edition.
    That was a bad mistake, for the transfer of this
    new 10th Anniversary Edition leaves much to be
    desired. I don't know why there is so much
    washout and green tinge scattered throughout
    the film.
    The decision in replacing your old copy should
    rest more on the extra material provided here.
    Some of the material such as the deleted footage
    and new interviews with the cast are worth the
    cost. Some of the film noir and Sundance sequences
    will only be appreciated by those that are into
    the material.
    Perhaps the best bet is to spend the $20 online
    price and buy BOTH versions. You can decide which
    transfer you prefer and have the extra material
    to boot.
    In any event, Reservoir Dogs is a film that
    is likely to stay with you for a long time. You'll
    certainly never hear Stuck In The Middle With
    in the same way again. It's trademark movie
    making from director Quenrin Tarantino.
    Release Date: August 27, 2002
  2. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

    Mar 19, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Nice plates.
  3. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

    Jun 19, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Well it looks like I'll still be picking this up.

    I sold the old one long ago, and really don't want to re-purchase it since it's non-anamorphic.

    I'll have to live with the washed-out colours in the meantime. I wish I could trade all the extras in this SE for a better transfer.

    Oh well, I'm excited about Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown - so my Tarantino fix won't be completely ruined.
  4. Craig_T

    Craig_T Second Unit

    Feb 17, 2001
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    I think I'm gonna cancel my preorder. All the extras in the world don't make up for a bad transfer. I mainly wanted this release for the new anamorphic transfer, the extras were just that, extra. And I still think those covers are the cheapest-looking pieces of crap I've ever seen.
  5. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    You mean Ron's signture? Anyways, while the transfer sound disappointing, I will end up getting this movie, as I never seem it before, and it would a good dvd to have.
  6. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

    Dec 4, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Such a shame about the transfer. Seeing as how I've never had this title in my collection up until this point, I will still pick this one up. The overall coolness of this film will help me forget about the washed out colours of the transfer.....and the extras look pretty good as well.[​IMG]
  7. FrankT

    FrankT Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 5, 2002
    Likes Received:
    While the transfer sounds bad I really don't care. This is a must buy for me. I am really looking forward to this as I have not see this since I watched it awhile ago on crappy VHS.

    I hope the other two (PF and JB) are better transfers.

    Anyway, Thanks
  8. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

    Nov 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I have two questions:

    1. Wasn't the original DVD presented in the 1.85:1 ratio unlike the 2.35:1 presented on this SE DVD? If so, why the change?

    2. Is there really a full-length audio commentary from Quentin Tarantino on this new DVD? It seems odd that he would do one for this film, but not his others. Hmmm...
  9. Florian B

    Florian B Agent

    Jun 20, 2002
    Likes Received:
    There's another review up now at Gamenikki and imagine that, the guy who reviewed it gives the transfer a 10/10.
    This whole situation seems a little strange to me, but since I have read much more reviews from Ron, I don't trust the Gamenikki one that much. We'll see.
    I'll be picking this one up anyway. [​IMG]
  10. Scott Burke

    Scott Burke Second Unit

    Nov 27, 2000
    Likes Received:
    United States
    Real Name:
    Scott B.
    I think I'll be keeping my original copy. After seeing the before and after shots on another thread, I don't like the SE transfer. It's a bummer.
  11. ArnaudP

    ArnaudP Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 27, 2001
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    "Being ten years old can hurt the look of a film of course, because the aging of the elements and stored transfer means nothing is the same as it was. Luckily, someone did a really nice restoration job on the movie, and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ shows up to it’s birthday looking absolutely gorgeous. The colors are vibrant, everything is clear, the clarity is great and there’s no grain. Everything looks like it must’ve in the theatres in 1992, perhaps better." from

    Is this guy looking at the same transfer??
  12. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

    Jul 27, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Hmmm, I'm wondering if I should snag the older version from my local Best Buy...they still have a few copies left.
  13. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Perhaps the film is supposed to be a little desaturated...

    Anyone see the film in the original theatrical run?
  14. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Hmmm...I will probably still have to pick this one up as I am a big fan of the movie. Doesn't sound like the transfer is unwatchable or anything.
    Can't wait to pick up RD, JB, and PF! [​IMG]
  15. Prentice Cotham

    Prentice Cotham Supporting Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Is Harvey involved in the commentary at all since he doesn't seem to have an interview? It's very disappointing if he doesn't have much participation in this disc. He used $350,000 or so of his own money to fund the film and was responsible for getting many of the great actors in the film. It seems like he would be represented more.
  16. Daniel P

    Daniel P Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 1, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the review Ron...

    I am not deterred at all by the transfer, as I don't have RD on DVD yet, and think the washed out look will not appear out of place.

    One question to Ron:

    Have you listened to any of the commentary yet?

    And if not, can you please - and let us know what it's like?
  17. Jim Bivins

    Jim Bivins Stunt Coordinator

    May 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I did see the movie theatrically when it first came out, and if memory serves, many of the interiors had a green tint to them, though very subtle.

    As far as the rest looking washed out? Well, I remember the film having a very 70's look to the photography, but the samples posted seem like more of a haze.

    I am tempted to cancel my pre-order if it is this bad.

  18. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

    May 24, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I'll only be renting this version for the commentary and bonus material. Ugh...those screenshots look awful.
  19. HenrikTull

    HenrikTull Second Unit

    Jun 6, 2000
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  20. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein


    I have added comments about the commentary track
    in my review.
    It was my plan to review the commentary, but that
    review took me 3.5 hours to write and it was just
    too late last night to touch upon it.
    This morning I took a listen to many portions
    of the commentary, but I must warn, it's not what
    you would anticipate it to be.
    I have also gone back to my notes and slightly
    revised the transfer review as well.

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