In 1992, Quentin Tarantino unleashed Reservoir Dogs onto an unsuspecting world. The result has been dissected, discussed, and researched more times than any film has a right to be. Even with imitators and over 15 years between its release and now, the film is still incredibly powerful and involving.
Through a shifting narrative, Tarantino tells the story a diamond heist that falls apart due to an insider within the thieves ranks. The group, unnamed except for code names such as Mr. Pink, meet inside an abandoned warehouse to discuss the situation and find the person who ratted them out.
Tarantino is a master of dialogue, able to keep a scene going on nothing more than two people talking. Dogs still might be the best dialogue of his career, describing the failed heist through words so vivid, there’s no need to even show it on screen (and he doesn’t). The small cast working on a shoestring budget cobble together some impressive performances. Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, and Michael Madsen are in fine form.
The detailed back-stories told in flashback never feel jarring or out of place. They’re handled with care to develop the personas of each player through further impressive dialogue.
Dogs is well known for its graphic violence, and even to this day can be jarring. The infamous ear cutting scene is harsh, and the copious amount of blood under Tim Roth are effective in setting a tone. While not unrelenting, the violence is still hard to watch purely for the effectiveness of the direction.
While any review could spend pages of space discussing the merits of Reservoir Dogs, any film fan is already aware of the spectacle the movie provides. It’s one of the greatest films to come out of the ‘90s, and a masterpiece for Tarantino despite being his first effort. Every movie fan needs this one on their shelf somewhere.
Sadly, LionsGate doesn’t seem to appreciate the film. While it’s doubtful this low budget independent film will ever look stunning in hi-def, there’s no excuse for the digital mess that is this transfer. DNR is prevalent, consistently blotting out detail. Edge enhancement is constant, annoying, and unnecessary. Facial detail is sporadic and never refined. Artifacting is noticeable on bright reds, and noise is visible around Buscemi and Keitel as they talk in the bathroom. Flesh tones are inaccurate throughout. Black levels are solid if somewhat murky, and sharpness is reasonable, but this entire transfer reeks of artificial enhancement.
A DTS-HD 6.1 mix is rather bland, though the source will likely never shine no matter how it’s remastered. Dialogue is a bit flat, although the music comes through cleanly, not to mention bleeding into the rears nicely. There’s some minor ambience and a fine echo inside the warehouse. As the officer is being tortured, each smack reverberates as it should. It’s serviceable.
Even with copious amounts of extras available from previous releases, Lionsgate barely offers anything here. A pop-up trivia track is informative, even if the factoids take up a ton of screen space. Playing is Fast and Loose is a short 15 minute featurette with various film industry names discussing the movie. Profiling the Reservoir Dogs looks at each individual character, providing little relevant information. Five deleted scenes, including two alternate takes on the ear cut, run for 12 minutes. Trailers follow those up before the special features menu reaches its end.