IMDb > Ronin (1998) > FAQ
Ronin
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

FAQ for
Ronin (1998) More at IMDbPro »

The content of this page was created directly by users and has not been screened or verified by IMDb staff.
Visit our FAQ Help to learn more

FAQ Contents


The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Ronin can be found here.

A mysterious Irish woman calling herself Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) hires five mysterious mercenaries -- Sam (Robert De Niro), Vincent (Jean Reno), Gregor (Stellan Skarsgård), Larry (Skipp Sudduth), and Spence (Sean Bean) -- to steal a mysterious suitcase from a mysterious group of men who are transporting it from Paris to Nice in hopes of selling the mysterious contents to some mysterious Russians. It's all very mysterious, but the chase is on!

Ronin is based on a story and screenplay by American playwrights J.D. Zeik and David Mamet (credited as Richard Weisz).

A ronin is a Japanese samurai without a master as could happen when a samurai's liege is killed or shamed. The ronin then becomes forced to wander the land, looking for work as a hired sword or a bandit. Although there are no Japanese samurai or ronin in this movie, the five mercenaries are compared to them, as they are all ex-Special Forces and intelligence operatives. At one point in the movie, the story of 47 samurai who became ronin during the feudal period is detailed. Three movies about the 47 have been released: 47 Ronin (2013) and two versions in Japanese: Genroku Chûshingura (1941) and Shijûshichinin no shikaku (1994). The seven samurai in Akira Kurosawa's Shichinin no samurai (1954) are essentially ronin, as are many of the samurai in Kurosawa's films.

Yes, for long shots, no for closeups. The staircase that Sam descends in his very first shot is real, the Rue Drevet in the Montmartre (18th) district of Paris. This "street" runs between the Rue des Trois Freres (at the bottom) and the Rue Berthe (at the top). When Sam walks behind the staircase, it's a replica of the stairs - there is no courtyard behind them, only small, narrow alleys where the local businesses keep their garbage cans. The bar is actually a Tex-Mex restaurant called Blue Sky. For the production, the street scenes were edited together with a carefully reconstructed replica of Blue Sky's entrance - if you watch Vincent enter the bar, you'll see two people pass from right to left between Vince and the camera, which covers an edit between the actual location and the set. The interiors were filmed in a studio. More info about the locations where the film was shot, including photos, can be found here.

Sam explains to Deirdre that he doesn't walk into a place he doesn't know how to walk out of. He hid his gun near the back door of the cafe so that, in case things went bad and he had to shoot his way out, he could either escape and run outside to grab his weapon or, if they intended to kidnap him, he could pretend to trip, grab the gun, and fight back. If he'd tried to carry the gun inside the bar, they might have frisked him and taken it, leaving him defenseless.

Gregor, Sam and Deirdre make reference to "The Man from Bristol." His given name is never revealed. From what is mentioned in the film, he is apparently a retired intelligence agent who was paralyzed during the Cold War (what Sam calls "the Late Unpleasantness") and confined to a wheelchair. He currently works as a sort of employment agency for mercenaries. Dierdre hired both Sam and Gregor through The Man From Bristol. His nationality is unknown but, presumably, he is not from a Soviet Bloc country since, when Gregor asks how the man became paralyzed, Sam states that it occurred "in your neck of the woods" (i.e., East Germany or the Soviet Bloc).

The first thing that Sam does when he meets the other members of the team is to size everyone up. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What might be their background? He tests both Gregor and Spence with a cup of coffee. Although Gregor was hired as the electronics man, his lightning fast reflexes at catching the falling cup suggest he is more than just a procurer of electronics, therefore he passes muster. On the other hand, although Spence claims to be the 'weapons man' and to have received special training in the 22nd Special Air Service at Hereford, his failure to react when 'ambushed' by a cup of falling coffee alerts Sam to the fact that he is clumsy and possesses no special training. Add to that the fact that he doesn't know the color of the boathouse, or even try to bluff his way out of answering the question, shows that he is inexperienced and would probably prove to be a handicap to the team.

Deirdre's people most likely set up the exchange. Vincent, being French and having connections in France, would probably have been able to set up a better gun exchange. It is not really clear why they were ambushed nor whether they were meant to be ambushed. Sam is the one who fired first when he spotted the sniper, prompting the firefight. Nevertheless, the gun exchange had all the characteristics of an ambush, and the ambush was most likely supposed to happen. One can also distinguish the fat guy saying at one point in Russian "Let them come closer. Keep talking" which supports the ambush proposition. The ambushers probably just wanted to take the money from Sam's team.

'Raspberry jam', as used by Spence, refers to a tight encounter (like in the close-quarters within the tunnel) between two small, but relatively equally-armed, troops. They also refer to it as an 'ambush', although an ambush usually implies that one side is concealed and lying in wait for the other side to pass by, at which time the first side will pull a surprise attack on them. In the raspberry jam, however, everyone but the sniper was visible to each other.

Spence was found to be incompetent and a fraud. Therefore, he was dismissed by Deidre. He was very nervous during the gun exchange, and he couldn't handle the stress afterwards (vomits when Larry stops the car for him). He also displayed poor knowledge of combat strategy during the gun exchange and at the warehouse. Spence was probably written into the movie to help strengthen the relationships between the rest of the team members, and demonstrate Sam's clearly superior knowledge of combat tactics.

There is no boathouse at Hereford but there is a canoe club structure. That building is grey.

Sam uses a .45 Mil-Spec 1911 handgun, a 40mm HK69 grenade launcher, a SIG 551 assault rifle, a LAW rocket launcher, a FN MINIMI light machine gun, and a .45 SIG P220 handgun. Deirdre uses a 9mm Jericho 941 handgun and a 9mm Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun. Spence uses a HK USP handgun and a 9mm HK MP5k submachine gun. Vincent uses a 9mm Beretta Inox. Larry uses a Remington 870 pump-action shotgun and a nickel-plated 9mm Taurus (Brazillian copy of a Beretta 92). Gregor uses a 9mm Glock 34 with sound suppressor and EOTech holosight.

In an attempt to sell the case for three times the original asking price, Gregor meets with Mikhi (Féodor Atkine) at the Le Znith arena where Mikhi's girlfriend, world class Russian figure skater Natacha Kirilova (Katarina Witt) is performing. To insure his own safety, Gregor has placed a sniper in the audience and informs Mikhi that Natacha will be killed if anything happens to him. Mikhi shoots Gregor anyway, takes both the case and the money, and runs outside. Sam and Vincent, caught up in the panicking crowd, also run outside just in time to see Deirdre's boss, Seamus O'Rourke (Jonathan Pryce), shoot Mikhi and take the case. While Vincent follows Mikhi, Sam locates Deirdre in a waiting taxicab and tells her to leave, admitting that he never left the CIA and that he was there to get Seamus, not the case. Deirdre speeds away, leaving Seamus cornered by Sam, Vincent, and the French police. Seamus begins to shoot his way out, wounding Vincent, and then run back into the arena. Sam follows him, but Seamus shoots him in the shoulder. Just as Seamus is about to fire on Sam again, Vincent fires two bullets into Seamus, killing him. In the final scene, probably weeks later, Sam and Vincent are having coffee together in the bar where they first met. An announcement is made over the radio that the British government of Northern Ireland and the Irish resistance have finally reached a peace agreement, largely due to the apprehension and slaying of terrorist Seamus O'Rourke (who was previously denounced by the IRA, the military branch of the Sinn Fin) by parties unknown. Sam and Vincent look at each knowingly. When Sam glances at the door to see the girl just walking in, Vincent assures him that Deirdre won't be coming back. They make their goodbyes, shake hands, and Vincent gets the bill. 'I'll get the next one,' Sam assures him, and the two go their separate ways...for now.

Sinn Fin is an Irish political party closely allied with the IRA (Irish Republican Army). The name is Irish for 'we ourselves'. Their members were often, but not exclusively, made up of former IRA operatives but were never directly involved with violence. However, since the signing of the Good Friday peace agreement, Sinn Fein, along with the Provisional IRA, has denounced terrorism, and its Vice President is actually deputy first Minister of Northern Ireland in the Northern Irish power-sharing assembly.

The female sniper is most likely just another mercenary, perhaps one of Gregor's ex-KGB acquaintances. The identity of the sniper was probably another element of the plot that was purposely left out, just like The Man In The Wheelchair or the contents of the case that everyone is trying to steal. During World War II the Soviets often employed women as snipers, finding many to be well-suited to the job. A few other movies have made mention of Russian women snipers, such as Stalag 17 and The Living Daylights, but mostly in passing. More info on the use of women snipers by the Soviets can be read here.

The briefcase is a "MacGuffin" - a term popularized by director Alfred Hitchcock and writer Angus MacPhail to describe a plot point that is deliberately left vague so as not to draw too much emphasis away from the real story. What is known about the contents is: (1) It is worth more than $800,000 (the maximum the Irish are willing to pay the mercenaries since they cannot afford to bid for it, and about the same amount that can fit in Gregor's briefcase at the end of the film); (2) It is wanted by both the Russians AND the Irish, but neither is willing to pay for it; (3) It is small enough to fit inside an ice-skate case, and not too heavy to be handled by a variety of characters; and (4) It cannot be hazardous material, since Gregor was able to mail it to himself through the French postal system, who would check. Some speculations are: (1) Important or stolen blueprints; (2) Printing plates for the new (at the time) Euro bills; (3) Important or stolen documents. and (4) The ice skate case belongs to the Russians and contains information that they want back. (Details of arms sales? Pictures of Mikhi with underage boys?).That's why Mikhi wants it back but doesn't want to pay for it; handing over money could validate the contents and be used to blackmail him later. The Irish want it as leverage over the Russians. The CIA want it to convict the Russians. The man with the case wants to sell it and make a quick buck.

Ronin has loads of cars. The main ones in order of appearances include: (1) Volkswagen (original) van, (2) Audi S8 D2 Quattro (fitted with a nitrous oxide power-booster) (car driven by Larry), (3) Volvo Estate V70 R AWD, (4) BMW 5 Series (in tunnel), (5) Peugeot 306 estate police car, (6) Peugeot 205GL (police car chasing the Audi), (7) Citroen XM V6 (the get away car outside the Majestic), (8) Peugeot 306 diesel estate police car, (9) Peugeot Expert van (could be named differently on mainland Europe), (10) Peugeot 605 (lead and follow the Citroen XM in the chase), (11) Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 W116 (car driven by Vincent at the ambush), (12) Shooting scene cars Renault Laguna, Renault 25 and Renault Espace and Citroen Xantia, (13) Fiat Uno, (14) Jeep Cherokee, (15) Peugeot 106, (16) Citroen Xantia, (17) Rover 400, (18) Renault Laguna, (19) Volkswagen Golf CL (car stolen by Vincent after they are left behind), (20) Peugeot 406 Mk1 (Sam's Paris chase car), (21) BMW M5 E34 (Deirdre's Paris chase car), (22) Renault 5 (post van), (23) Renault Prima (post van), (24) Mercedes 500E (the camera car towing the 406), (25) Citroen ZX police car, (26) Citroen Saxo / Peugeot 406 crash, (27) Renault 21 crash in tunnel, (28) Peugeot 306, Peugeot 106, DAF truck crash, (29) Peugeot 306 (final get away car), and (30) Citroen Xantia. According to reports, over 75 cars were wrecked during the production.

Although the movie was left open at the end, hinting that Vincent and Sam may work together in the future, no plans for a Ronin 2 movie have been announced.

r73731


Related Links

Plot summary Plot synopsis Parents Guide
Trivia Quotes Goofs
Soundtrack listing Crazy credits Alternate versions
Movie connections User reviews Main details