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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 91:06)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 1 Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - with director John Frankenheimer
  • Featurette - Filming in the Fast Lane
  • Animated menus
  • Booklet

Ronin

MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 116 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

In feudal Japan, the warrior class of Samurai were sworn to protect their liege lords with their lives. Those Samurai whose liege was killed suffered a great shame, and they were forced to wander the land, looking for work as hired swords or bandits. These masterless warriors were no longer referred to as Samurai, they were known by another name: such men were called RONIN.

It is with these opening words that the premise of the movie is set. A group of professionals are brought together for a mission; to retrieve a silver briefcase containing who knows what. This team has the money and the backing of to obtain all the weapons and cars they need to get the job done.

It's a decent plot that is souped up with some of the best car chases to hit the screen in a long, long time. Director John Frankenheimer took the first giant steps to incredible car scenes in his classic movie 'Grand Prix' and he's used his know-how of camera techniques and his knowledge of Paris streets to bring some hair-raising car footage to the screen.

Using mediocre actors would have been a bad move but bringing some great performers to Paris was a great move on Frankenheimers behalf and with the likes of Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, Jonathon Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard and Natascha McElhone the movie has an increased boost in performance.

  Video
Contract

This is a great transfer from MGM. Listening to the audio commentary we learn that a process called CCE Deluxe was used to produce a print that was somewhat muted in color saturation yet gave deep blacks and excellent shadow detail.

The transfer to dvd retains the intent of the director with a subdued color palette lending more to browns and greys than anything richer would produce. The bleak back streets of Paris also benefit from this process and give character to the transfer.

The only downside of the 2.35:1 16x9 image is that the fast paced chase scenes tend to give the mpeg encoding process some grief. It's only subtle but it is there. You wouldn't normally notice it as you're on the edge of your seat watching the chasing.

  Audio
Contract

With a whole mixture of cars being used, the audio track needs to faithfully reproduce their individual sounds and Frankenheimer has made a concerted effort to do so by concentrating on the cars more than anything else in the soundtrack. Hearing and seeing an Audi doing a 4 wheel drift is very impressive - throw in some Peugots and BMW's and you've got a car lovers dream soundtrack.

When the cars have stopped you're blessed with some intense shoot-outs with all range of weapons producing all range of responses from your speakers. Bass response is impressive and surround activity is fully utilised throughout. The rest of the film is all dialogue and is totally clear and understandable.

This is a disc that will impress the action-head and rev-head in you.

  Extras
Contract

A decent collection of extras to keep you occupied for a couple of hours after you've watched the movie.

  • Audio Commentary - John Frankenheimer does an excellent job of pointing out all things techinical in the movie. If you're a budding film-maker you'll find his commentary very informative indeed and it's probably one of the better ones I've heard.
  • Alternate Ending - This alternate ending simply adds a few cuts to the finale that reveal what was originally left to the viewer to decide. I can't reveal anything as it may be considered a spoiler to some.
  • Featurette - "Filming in the Fast Lane" is a 20 minute piece delving into the behind the scenes aspects of the movie. It is presented in a windowboxed format to preserve the 100% anamorphic presentation of the whole disc. What is revealed most in this piece is how they did all the car chase stunts. It is utterly amazing what they went through to achieve these incredible scenes and YES they were doing 100mph in the Paris streets.
  • Theatrical Trailer - The trailer is presented in a 2.35:1 16x9 format with a 2 channel surround format that has plenty of low end oomph that alot of trailers lack.
  • Animated menus - Different to the region 1 menus, these offer less animated footage and only restrict it to the main screen.

  Overall  
Contract

This is not a full on action flick but it is an excellent movie on it's own. The characterisation is superb with the ensemble cast producing great performances and the chemistry between De Niro and Reno makes you wish they'd team up again.

A highly recommended movie and dvd.


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      And I quote...
    ""
    - Steve Koukoulas
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-505 Gold
    • TV:
          Hitachi CMT2979 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS777 THX Select
    • Speakers:
          Peterson Labs 100Watts
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sherwood SC-60E
    • Surrounds:
          Sherwood LS-502
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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