The Lion giveth and the Lion taketh away. Lionsgate brings out a new 15th Anniversary editions of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. They provide a newly remastered transfer, a new supplement, but not all of the items from the 10th Anniversary edition makes it onto this one.
The story begins with a group of criminals sitting around the breakfast table at Uncle Bob’s Pancake House debating the meaning of “Like a Virgin.” They’ve all been called together by Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and Eddie Cabot (Chris Penn) to pull a heist at a jewelry shop. The fellows are known to each other not by their names but by monikers that Joe has devised. We have Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), and Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino).
We don’t see the heist - just the aftermath of its failure. Not everyone makes it out alive or unharmed. Mr. Orange is wounded and bloodied and brought back to the warehouse where the gang is to meet by Mr. White. Mr. Pink is already at the warehouse. The psychotic Mr. Blonde brings a quest with him (in his trunk) and decides that he has one ear too many. Needless to say, there’s a traitor amongst them - an undercover cop. Which one is it and who will get out alive? (You probably already know the answer to that one)
Reservoir Dogs is a modern classic and brought the world Quentin Tarantino. It crackles with electric dialogue, excellent performances, and stylized violence. It would also influence other films in the time period and still influences them today. Artisan brought out a special 10th Anniversary DVD edition in 2002. Lionsgate, who absorbed Artisan, now brings out that 15th Anniversary edition.
However, not all of the items on the 10th Anniversary edition made it onto the 15th. Missing from the new edition are the Cast and Crew Interviews, The Film Noir Web Interviews, The Noir Files, Small Dogs, and a poster gall. Small Dogs was just a commercial for Reservoir Dogs merchandise and is probably not going to be missed.
The Cast and Crew interviews are a rather significant omission (I wonder if this is a rights issue since they were made for Artisan?) and is our last opportunity to see the late Chris Penn talk about Reservoir Dogs. The Noir Web had interviews with noir writers and directors and the Noir Files were a list of authors and books about noir. So now that I’ve told you what’s not on the set, what IS on the set?
First off, they’ve remastered the picture and it does look better than the 10th Anniversary Edition. They’ve also designed a special packaging that’s shaped like a gas can (you know why) and the two discs inside are held in a paper container made to look like a matchbook from Uncle Bob’s Pancake House. The gas can is made of aluminum and is quite sturdy.
The following new features are located on disc two. The only new featurette is the 15 minute “Playing it Fast and Loose.” It has interviews with Harry Knowles (film critic from aintitcool.com), Sharon Waxman (Hollywood correspondent for the NY Times and author of “Rebels on the Backlot”), Peter Markham (AFI Conservatory and Senior Lecturer on directing) and Mark Evan Schwartz (Loyola Marymount University and author of “How to Write: A Screenplay”).
The next new item is “Profiling the Reservoir Dogs.” You can listen to the 7 minute narration about Mr. Brown, Mr. Pink, Mr. White, and Mr. Blonde or you can read the text yourself. Another new addition is the Tipping Guide. I think it’s a kind of game, but I couldn’t figure out what the hell it’s supposed to do. Finally on disc two is a interview about the new Reservoir Dogs video game. The only new addition to disc one is the Pulp Factoid Viewer which is a subtitle track that pops up relevant facts during the movie. The rest of the special features were on the 10th Anniversary edition.
On disc one has a commentary track with director Quentin Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender, executive producer Monte Hellman, director of photography Andrzej Sekula, editor Sally Menke, and actors Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Michael Madsen, and Kirk Balz. Disc one also has a critic’s commentary (this was on disc two on the other edition) with Amy Taubin (Film Comment), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), and Emanuel Levy (author of “Cinema Outsiders: The rise of American independent film). These comments are only on certain clips from the film and you can play all three or just listen to a specific critic.
Disc two contains the remainder of the special features (also from the other edition). First are a set of deleted scenes (Background check [4:39], No Protection [2:57], Doing my job [2:32], Cutting off the ear – alternate take A [1:01], and Cutting off the ear – alternate take B [1:24]). Next is the 2 minute “Reservoir Dolls” which recreates the ear cutting scene with action figures. There’s also the K-Billy radio section that has audio of Samson Beck, Gerry Rafferty talking about “Stuck in the middle with you”, and outtakes of Steven Wright.
The next one is rather odd, the 22 second “Reservoir Dogs Style Guide” which basically shows them wearing suits and sunglasses. “Securing the Shot: Location with Billy Fox” runs 4 minutes and he takes us on a tour of locations used in the film. “The Class of ‘92” runs 28 minutes and profiles the directors that emerged at the same time as Tarantino. “Tributes and Dedications” runs about 48 minutes. It contains Tarantino talking about the list of people the screenplay was dedicated to, a tribute to Lawrence Tierney, A Tour with Eddie Bunker, Monte Hellman, Jack Hill, Pam Grier, and Roger Corman. There’s also the original theatrical trailer and trailers for other Lionsgate trailers.
I’m glad that they’ve remastered the picture and it does look better, but I’m not sure that the new special features are worth the upgrade if you own the other version. You can pick the new edition up relatively cheaply, so if you can about the remastering then you won’t spend too much change.
Those with the 10th Anniversary Edition will not want to get rid of that edition however for the special features that didn’t make it over to the new edition. If you don’t own a copy of the film then you’re advised to pick this one up and enjoy. Just don’t put gas in the gas can (or cut off anyone’s ear for that matter). Be advised that there’s always the possibility of a HD or Bluray edition sometime or a 20th Anniversary Edition.