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Crime boss Joe Cabot brings together a group of criminals to perform a big
one-off job. To protect each other, they all use colour coded names.
However on the day of the job, the police ambush the gang and each makes
their own getaway. As the gang comes together at their warehouse meeting
point they realise that someone within the gang must have tipped the
or be an undercover. The accusations and suspicions escalate into
in the confines of the warehouse.
When this film came out in the UK it caused an absolute firestorm of controversy over it's violence, even to the point that it was banned in the UK for a while. I still find this absurd and am very glad we have moved to a more tolerant society where generally the BBFC protect vulnerable groups but let adults decide for themselves. Looking at the media's adoring welcome for the ultra violent Kill Bill one can't help but marvel at how things have changed. Looking at Reservoir Dogs now (or even then!) it simply isn't THAT violent. However what it is is very sudden and all the more powerful for it.
Tarantino directs the film and writes the film in such a way that it was impossible to ignore him even if the film was only a cult hit. The dialogue is both witty at points but, more importantly, very tough and loaded with testosterone. It is the writing that makes us like these coffee shop jokers at the start before shocking us by suddenly throwing us into a backseat bloodbath. The entire job happens off camera, and only occasionally do we actually see the immediate effect of violence - usually we get the aftermath. It is incredibly tight and very tense throughout, I was about 16 when my father took me to see this film - it has stayed with me since and I still considered it to be one of the best `job gone wrong' films of my generation. It may not be original (there's a thin line between a homage and a rip off) but it is certainly effectively done.
The cast are excellent and turn the hardboiled dialogue into convincing scenes. Keitel is wonderful. His character is a father figure of sorts and he is wildly out of control at times and balanced at others. Likewise Buscemi is wide-eyed and freaking out for much of the film, but he does it well. Roth is more balanced but is still good for it; it is his job to carry the emotional weight of the film and he does it well, despite a wandering American accent at times. Madsen is great, maybe not the best character but wildly out of control. Tierney was a great piece of casting, as was Bunker. Penn is good but not the best of the cast.
Tarantino mercifully has little acting to do, but it is his film as writer and director. The flashbacks during the film was a brave way to do it but it really works well - mixing stories with flashbacks and so on. No matter what the time of the scene, it all keeps moving tensely towards the climax. It may be a homage and not as original as some films but so what - it is tight and tense, macho, violent, funny and very enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can think of nothing kind or good or positive to say about this truly
repulsive motion picture. It is, quite simply, cruel.
Quentin Tarantino's badly written script focuses on the events leading up to and the aftermath of a botched jewelry store heist. The heist itself is largely inconsequential to the story, as Tarantino's intent was apparently to create a character study of the participants. Yet, he has failed to give any of his characters anything resembling human personalities beyond phony macho posturing. The cast does little to add depth to the characters beyond the routine tough guy gambit of shouting their obscenity-laden dialogue at the top of their lungs. As such, they never raise their one-note performances above the level of brain dead savagery. But good, bad or indifferent, the actors have little to work with in the first place. Tarantino's much deified dialogue is insultingly dull-witted -- banal pop references peppered generously with tiresome profanity. The kindest thing to be said for Tarantino's ability to direct action is that it, at least, distracts from the emptiness of his written words.
But, it is the violence that pushes the film into the realm of the utterly contemptible. There have been films with more violence and with more explicit violence, but few revel in its violence to the extent of RESERVOIR DOGS. The film doesn't use violence to show cause and effect, or to make a social statement, or to reflect reality, or even for cheap shock effect. It is violence for the sake of violence. The violence in DOGS is purely sadistic; a sleazy, pornographic celebration of inhuman cruelty.
Here and in his other violence-obsessed films, Tarantino embraces the infliction of pain as not just an act of power, but of an almost orgasmic display of gratification. Add to this the fact that the victims of the violence are usually bound, helpless, terrified, tortured, randomly selected and undeserving of such cruelty and the violence clearly becomes symbolic of rape. Worse, such savagery encourages the audience to identify with the perpetrator, not the victim, and Tarantino (all too effectively, I'm afraid) tries to make the viewer complicit in his sadism.
Okay, if Tarantino wants to indulge in his little S&M fantasies, that is his business. What is disheartening is the way people -- filmgoers and professional critics alike -- have been seduced into not just tolerating Tarantino's sadism, but to applaud it as well? DOGS centerpiece is the totally unnecessary and illogical kidnapping of a young policeman who is subsequently beaten, tortured and mutilated, for no apparent reason other than because it amuses one of the psychotic characters -- and, one can presume, Tarantino himself. The director stages the torture sequence like a comic musical number, complete with rock background music and choreography; casually topping it all off with the young officer's murder being the punchline of a joke. "That's entertainment!" seems to be Tarantino's pathetically cruel message.
This killing should inspire anger or, at the very least, pity for the innocent man. Instead, it elicited raves by film viewers who see the scene as stylish, or worse, cool. What does it say about our society that not only do we condone the glorification of senseless violence as entertainment, but applaud it as art? Why have we become so obsessed with the matter of "style" that we can't see that beneath Tarantino's superficial technique there is sadism?
RESERVOIR DOGS represents some sort of low point in the history of cinema. That it helped propel Tarantino to be considered one of the most influential directors of our time represents some sort of low point for society.
I remember watching this movie when it first came out and I did not know what to think. I mean, it was different. I could not remember seeing dialog like this before or a scene where a guy cuts another guy's ear off. It was unique in that regard. Mind you, it was different, but not really special. Moreover, some parts were very boring. Other parts were so "talky" and somewhat over the top, that they strained credibility. However, there were some funny lines as well. After having watched this again, some ten years later, I can say with all honesty, this film has not aged well. On second look, you see what looks like a first year film student project. It still has funny lines, but the story is paper thin. The actors tend to over act and the dialog is so full of Clint Eastwood wannabe one-liners, that you just roll your eyes. Michael Madsen cannot act, sorry. He is cool, but he cannot act. Tim Roth's attempt at an American accent makes him sound like Ralph Cramden from the HoneyMooners. I was just amazed at how bad this film really looked to a more mature person. The funny lines just don't cover that constant posturing of characters that have no real depth. The movie is cotton candy, it looks filling, but is far from it. Perhaps there will always be 14 year old boys around to give this "cool film" high marks, but I fear it will grow more ridiculous the older I get. However, Tarantino has this cult of personality going and I am sure the 10s will continue coming in for this film and a 10 might mean perfect in here, but that don't make it so.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
...this is the whole damn meal. "Reservoir Dogs" is about a crime gone horridly awry, and it makes no apologies for its violence, slurs, and language. It doesn't have to, because of its brilliant, gripping script and plot twists, acting that makes you think these people are real, and a flashy presentation of it all. Quentin Tarantino came on the scene not with a whimper but a bang with this story of a diamond heist which is foiled by an undercover cop--one of the criminals. The story unfolds backwards, beginning with Quentin Tarantino waxing poetic on Madonna's "Like a Virgin", and manages to cover Tim Roth writhing around in Harvey Keitel's backseat with a bullet in his stomach, Michael Madsen with a straight razor and a bound & gagged cop, Chris Penn crying rape in his father Laurence Tierney's office, and other insane, violent, and/or hilarious plot lines leading to a dazzling end. The soundtrack adds just the right amount of style and superiority, which you'll understand immediately when the Dogs walk in slo-mo to the tune of "Little Green Bag". This movie can only compare to "Pulp Fiction" with its brilliance, otherwise, it is completely and utterly a unique experience.
People sure love this movie. I have a friend who says that it's good
because of the ear-slicing scene; most directors would cut away from such
violence entirely, but here, we get to see the aftermath of a maiming. Well
yeah, "Reservoir Dogs" does push the envelope - but towards what? Should we
really praise a movie just because it wallows in violence more willingly
than its predecessors?
My ex-girlfriend says this is a Greek tragedy. If that were true, the violence would be entirely justified, because it would help elevate "Reservior Dogs" to the level of an enlightening commentary on human nature. Alas, none of the characters is particularly noble; they start off as low-lifes and have nowhere to fall. So, that defense doesn't seem to work either.
In short, people have long tried to convince me that this is really a masterpiece. But even the best parts - such as the opening dialogue in the restaurant - seem artificial and engineered. Tarantino is ripping off older, better films and directors wholesale. There are shades of "The Taking of Pelham 123" here, and there's also a dash of "The Omen" at the end. Hitchcock, Frankenheimer, and even John Carpenter did this kind of stuff before, and they did it better. No doubt Tarantino was a breath of fresh air after the shallow era of 1980s action movies, but he was not much of an innovator, and I don't think that his super-cool style has stood even the shortest test of time; he has, after all, practically dropped off the face of the earth.
To quote the great Terry Rossio:
"There are many films with the goal 'to find your way home.' But there's only one film where a girl clicks together a pair of ruby slippers."
What that basically means is that the goal of many stories is essentially the same. The 'find your way home' example is used in films such as E.T., The Wizard of Oz, and Back To The Future, just to name a few. Only one of those has ruby slippers. Only one has a bicycle fly past the moon. Only one has a time-traveling Delorean.
The goal of 'criminals getting together to pull off the perfect heist' has been used is such films as The Killing, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and City on Fire...just to name a few. Only one had an un-chronological order to the events. Until Reservoir Dogs. Only one had the criminals use color-coded names to keep their identities anonymous. Until Reservoir Dogs. Only one had an undercover cop infiltrate a gang of crooks and befriend another crook, only to get shot during the process of the robbery, until he confesses the truth to his new friend. Until Reservoir Dogs.
If you cannot see that this entire film is just a cut and paste job, then you have to be mentally impaired. And that is not an insult.
As far as originality goes, Tarantino hasn't got to that point yet. The point where he creates something on his own. This is just a second hand, second rate cut and paste job that is only mildly entertaining on first viewing. Upon seeing the film subsequent times, it only gets worse, and it's (very many) flaws only stand out to an even more obvious extent. This is a bad movie even for someone who has never directed anything before in his life.
The film starts with a discussion that might as well be about Jesus, pancake syrup, or the duties of the school crossing guard. None of these have anything to do with the story...much like the conversation we see before the opening credits roll. Which brings me to another discussion that takes place later on in the film...something about Lady E and a superglue incident. How is this any of our business? How does it advance the story? What do we get out of it besides a possible forced laugh of pity? It's not our business, it does not advance the story, and we get nothing out of that scene at all. You can literally remove it and be left with the same exact film, just without that scene. From the point before that scene started to after it finished, NOTHING HAS CHANGED AT ALL. It's complete filler. A total waste of time.
This movie would have been pretty good without extraneous scenes floating around, popping up at random, and taking entirely too long to finish. The best example of this is the whole Tim Roth segment. It interrupts the flow of the story and it simply not fun to watch. It's a huge dead moment right before the climax of the movie and it's very easy to simply lose interest at that point. When the finale does come, it's more of a "good, it's over" point rather than any kind of realization. Tarantino couldn't even create a good third act when he literally just copied the third act from City on Fire, and in some cases...shot for shot!
Resertvoir Dogs showed us nothing that we have not seen before...literally. The only positive thing about it is the cast, and that's even not so great. Most of the dialogue is just screaming and f-words being used like it's going out of style (and it has, thanks to films like this), and the "infamous" and "extreme" violence is about on par with The Lion King. So if you're thinking about watching this movie...just watch a good heist movie instead. I suggest:
The Killing The Asphalt Jungle The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
When critics say that some films are pornographic because of the way
they depict violence, they are referring to the type of violence that
appears in "Reservoir Dogs." The film maker's artistic judgment seems
to be clouded by a bloodthirsty hatred of police officers. I am
thinking particularly of a scene in which a captive police officer is
mutilated by his criminal captors. The feeling conveyed to me was one
of sadistic joy in the victim's suffering, a sense that he deserved to
be mutilated simply because he was a cop. I am sure that some misguided
admirers of this film applauded the scene precisely for that reason.
Unfortunately, a lot of people hate the police, and for them such a
film functions as escapist "entertainment," but "Reservoir Dogs" seems
to lack any redeeming value of another kind, like a snuff movie.
The only other time I've seen such poor artistic and ethical judgment in a film was in "Caligula," by the producer Bob Guccione, where in one scene a Roman aristocrat forces a soldier to drink a gallon of wine and then cuts his belly open for the fun of seeing the liquid spill out of it. Some gullible members of the audience actually cheered when they saw that. Like Guccione, Tarantino, director of "Reservoir Dogs" may be a big fan of pornography and possibly he doesn't make the distinction between sex and violence. Certainly everything of his I've seen looks like a porno film stylistically, but he focuses mainly on bloodshed and torture instead of lust and love. Unless you're in the mood for a tasteless exercise in violence, you would do much better to rent John Huston's "Asphalt Jungle," one of the best and most intelligently made caper gone wrong movies ever made.
I watched Ringo Lam's city on fire and I was upset to see how Quentin
stole everything from it to make Reservoir Dogs, Yes I like the way he
combines different movies to make one but reservoir dogs was like an
American Version of city on fire with white actors (not in a bad way).
I know it has been said before, but I recommend you to watch City on fire, things that didn't make sens or if you don't want to waste your time listening to those tough guys talking about what they did, City on fire will just show you what happened in a small box of time.
But anyway, I think Mr Blond and Pink made it look pretty though.
I am sorry, just in case he paid for the rights.
This movie just bored me no end. It was so painful to watch. The
direction by Quentin Tarintino was terrible and the actors were very
miscasted. I watched this with my friend and he also thought it was
terrible. Nothing to admire, no action, just cussing. There's no point
going to the message boards saying that you don't like it, because if
you do people at the message board will use anything as an excuse for
you to love it. "If you don't like it you don't get or you're an idiot.
It was Quentin Tarintino's first film, go easy on him." Don't let tall
this get in the way of your opinion, because this movie was stupid and
pointless. Very predictable too. So I wont even say anymore.
I recommend it to anyone who loves Quentin Tarintino. By the way, I find Quentin Tarintino overrated, everything he does people think it's great, but it's not.
I can only imagine that those who like this film find appeal in the
violence. It certainly isn't in the direction or story-telling. It's an
incredibly badly-written and episodic piece, full of irrelevant scenes
without which it would only be an hour long. What is relevant makes no
of the medium. Characters are not introduced through telling actions, but
by introducing themselves in some kind of criminal job-interview.
Tarantino's 'genius' seems to be a habit of having the lowest sort of
engaged in violent pursuits converse as casually as ladies at tea. It's a
trick he uses and re-uses in all his films. Maybe Reservoir Dogs was
to have deconstructionist elements a la From Dusk Till Dawn, but I think
it's just what it appears to be: a really bad film.
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