DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

Read Gator MacReady's film review of Ronin

Filmed in Super-35, the 2.35:1 anamorphic picture is flawless with perfect color definition and a vast variation of blacks that make up the film's dark and gritty color palette. You'd be hard pushed to find a DVD that looks better than this, as it is an excellent transfer with no noise or print damage.

The Dolby/DTS 5.1 soundtracks are where the benefits of this DVD and a home theatre really kick in. Ronin has a brilliant sound design, painstakingly put together for maximum realism and involvement. And throughout the action scenes, especially the main car chase, sound effects are coming at you from all directions. Plus the mighty forceful .1LFE channel is so loud your neighbors will be calling the fuzz.

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The main attraction on the disc is the commentary by John Frankenheimer. Don't be spooked by listening to a dead man talk to you. It's like attending a film class, the man just knows so much and never stops talking about the movie. Most commentaries are boring, but you can't get enough of what Frankenheimer has to say.

Composing The Ronin Score is a 12 minute piece on Elia Cmiral and how he dreamt up his wonderful music for the movie. Did I tell you to go get the soundtrack CD already? Go now! The Gator commands you!

In The Ronin Cutting Room is an 18-minute feature on editor Tony Gibbs and how he toiled to cut the film together in the most expert, professional and appropriate way possible. Like I said, this is not a Jerry Bruckheimer production. Editing and cutting is very important and this feature will be of crucial interest to those who admire its fluent pace.

Natascha McElhone: An Actor's Process lasts 14 minutes, during which she tells stories of her days on set and how she used her isolation from the more experienced leading men to be incorporated into her character. A nice feature and McElhone has many fond memories of working on the film.

Two of the featurettes, The Driving Of Ronin and Filming In The Fast Lane, lasting 15 and 17 minutes respectively, focus on the car chases and stunt work. There are many interviews with the stunt drivers, but they all talk in French - thankfully, there are subtitles. A lot of production footage and discussion on the evolution of car chases fill out the rest of these features.

Through The Lens is a 17 minute featurette on the impressive camera work. Robert Fraisse was the man who framed the shots and listening to him is actually quite interesting. Some of the shots in Ronin are simply brilliant and for keen young filmmakers this will be a crucial extra.

The Venice Interviews last 20 minutes and we get lots of talking from McElhone and Jean Reno, but only a little bit from Robert De Niro. He never comes across very well in interviews, anyway (he claims to be shy), but the other two have lots to say about working on the film. And McElhone even admits to being confused by its complex plot.

Wondering what happened to Deirdre at the end of the film? The Alternate Ending will answer that question for you.

A three minute photo gallery and trailer round out the extras on this 2-Disc Special Edition.

If you do not go out and buy this, then you will upset the Gator. And when the Gator gets upset, he blacks out. Do you really want that to happen?

Well do you?!?

Reviewed on: 05 Nov 2004
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Product Code: 10001217MZ1

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1

Extras: Commentary from director John Frankenheimer; alternate ending; In The Cutting Room with Tony Gibbs: a featurette on editing the film; Filming In The Fast Lane: the original Making Of featurette, re-edited for this Special Edition release; Through The Lens: an interview with Director of Photography Robert Fraisse; The Driving Of Ronin: a featurette on action stunts in the movie, with stunt co-ordinator Jean-Claude Lagniez;

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