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Reservoir Dogs (1992) – DVD Review

Reservoir Dogs Special Edition DVD cover art


Written & Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn, and Lawrence Tierney


  • Deleted scenes
  • New interviews with Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Bender, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Michael Madsen, Eddie Bunker, and Kirk
  • Tribute to Lawrence Tierney
  • Director Tribute to Tarantino’s influences
  • “Class of ’92”: documentary about the indie films of the ’92 Sundance festival
  • “Small Dogs”: Action figure development documentary
  • Film Noir Web: interactive text database on the noir genre
  • Select scene commentary with cast, crew, and critics
  • K-BILLY interactive radio
  • Reservoir Dog style guide
  • Location scouting featurette
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Poster gallery

Released by: Artisan
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Own it or we’ll sic Mr. Blonde on you

[ad#longpost]In 1992, a former video store clerk vaulted his way to indie filmmaker credibility with the release of Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino, who would cement his reputation with Pulp Fiction a few years later, exploded into pop culture consciousness as The Next Big Thing. Drawing together an ensemble cast of talented actors, Tarantino‘s story of a diamond heist gone bad harkened back to a bygone era of
crime stories and hard-boiled bad guys. QT’s familiarity with the noir genre enabled him to make a film that did for that genre what Eastwood‘s Unforgiven did for Westerns.

Simply put, the story is about a jewel heist, planned by crime boss Joe Cabot (Tierney) and his son, Nice Guy Eddie (Penn). Drawing together a half-dozen career criminals that don’t know each other, Cabot hopes to minimize the chances that one arrest won’t lead to the entire ring going to the big house. Misters White, Blonde, Orange, Pink, Brown, and Blue (played by Keitel, Madsen, Roth, Buscemi, Tarantino, and Edward Bunker respectively; and code-named for their own protection) plan the crime to its last detail, but when the entire store erupts into a bloody gun battle, it becomes plain to all of them that somebody has set them up.

As tensions mount and the wounded Mr. Orange lies bleeding to death, the situation is compounded by the psychotic Mr. Blonde and his policeman hostage. Mr. White’s patience wears thin as the gang waits at the rendezvous point for the boss, who seems to be taking his own sweet time arriving.
Through this adversity, the bonds of friendship that have grown between some of these gangsters are tested by paranoia and treachery.

Reservoir Dogs: The Walk

The performances across the board are phenomenal. Madsen’s coolly psychotic Mr. Blonde, Keitel’s consummate professional Mr. White, and Tim Roth’s dying Mr. Orange are all instant classics of the genre. The script is likewise head of its class, and Tarantino’s flair for dialogue is surpassed only by that in Pulp Fiction. The entire production reeks style, and the image of a band of identically-clad thugs walking out of a diner was iconic enough to
become the logo of Tarantino’s production house.

The extras make an already-mandatory DVD even more indispensable. The select scene commentary provides lots of insight into particular sections of the film by those individuals most interested in said scenes. By tightening the focus of the commentary by selecting scenes, it allows a particular theme or set of ideas to be examined in more depth than the usual commentary track can manage. The interviews with cast and crew are incredibly extensive and informative, sometimes providing multiple perspectives on one scene or one element of the story. With these extras, no aspect of the production remains unexamined, down to the merchandising and the independent film world’s context for the arrival of the film.

Tim Roth as Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs

The film noir info database is an interesting resource for fans of the genre, though a bit hard to navigate in places. The tribute to Lawrence Tierney reveals exactly what an unusual individual the actor was, and what a bizarre experience the cast and crew had working with him. The K-BILLY radio feature is a bit of a mixed bag, with a host of short audio or video snippets related to the movie in some fashion. They range from interviews with Stealer’s Wheel band members discussing the circumstances of the composition of “Stuck in the Middle With You” to a action-figure reenactment of the infamous “ear scene,” with a small inset window showing the original live-action scene.

The impact and influence of this movie make it a must-have for most anybody, though the squeamish might not want it just for the sheer amount of blood in the picture. Despite the volume of claret, there is really relatively little violence, despite its reputation. With only four on-screen incidents, it clocks in significantly less violent than most action capers, but since Tarantino didn’t flinch away from the reality of such incidents, it makes the whole seem more violent than it really is. All this aside, the film is destined to be a classic, and shows in this 10th Anniversary edition that it is likely to withstand the test of time. Get your copy today.