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Resevoir Dogs

A 1992 film by Quentin Tarantino

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Why am I Mr. Pink?

  • Jan 19, 2012
**** out of ****

I've seen a few heist movies in my time, but I can't recall a great heist movie in which the actual act was never shown. So given that, Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" - his debut picture - is something genuinely new, or at least to me it is. Whether it takes its narrative stylistics from some other past heist flicks in which the events leading up to and following the actual heist took center stage instead of the actual heist is not of my concern. This is something new, this is something thrilling; and best of all, this is something purely Tarantino.

In typical Quentin Tarantino style, the plot is completely non-linear; so you have to actually finish the film and then go back and watch individual scenes to completely understand what the hell's going on half of the time. This might be a complaint with other movies; but Tarantino has a way with his dialogue, and he sucks you right in. The film begins with a prolonged scene in which those pulling of the heist are engaged in a conversation with their employer. The topic of conversation: one man's personal interpretation of Modanna's "Like a Virgin".

These good people are Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker), and Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino). They are joined by the man who hired them - Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) - and his son - "Nice Guy" Eddie (Chris Penn). They can certainly hold a good - and thoroughly hilarious - conversation; because I was hooked from the start. And that was just the beginning.

From that scene (and the opening titles sequence), cut to Mr. Orange as he is bleeding in the back of car, driven by Mr. White. He says he has been shot by a woman. Knowing the basic set-up for the film, we know that this must be the result of the failed/attempted heist. Mr. White then drives his passenger to a warehouse; presumably where the gang will meet up when all this blows over. Sure enough, people arrive by the numbers; and from there, things just keep getting more complex.

"Reservoir Dogs" is not an easy film to describe - with me only having seen it this one time so far - and it certainly isn't the easiest one to review. To critique requires me to give you a basic synopsis of the plot, and that's hard to do when it's as multi-dimensional, non-linear, and borderline confusing as the one presented. Of course, after some thought (and after watching it in its entirety) I came to understand just about all of what I'd seen; and the film was rendered confusing no more. In fact, I think it makes perfect sense; in actuality, this is a simple film hidden beneath a confusing exterior. All you need to know going in is that it's about a heist that is never quite seen. That should be enough to either sell the film or send the cynics packing.

However, for those willing to stick around for the whole 100 minutes, "Reservoir Dogs" has the kind of nasty surprises that only visionary filmmakers like Tarantino can manage to deliver in times such as now. Filled to the top with references, symbolism, and sometimes all-out whacky sensibilities; the film is an ironic but very effective blending of harsh violence and ingenious humor. There are big laughs, some big cringes, but all the while, you're admiring Tarantino's technique to the end. And when you reach that end, you realize what a brilliant filmmaker he was and still is; and how he single-handedly brought himself to craft one of the best feature debuts I've ever seen.

Largely popularized by the success of "Pulp Fiction" and the adoration of its faithful fans (most coming from the home video market); "Reservoir Dogs" is a film that I feel every cinephile with considerable self-respect should see, if they haven't already. It's the perfect mixture of blood, bullets, and sheer brawn; it's both smart and brutal at the same time. But those are the kinds of films that I tend to love the most; and I imagine Tarantino shares my sympathies. That's always a good thing when it comes to any film; being able to identify somewhat with the intents of its maker. It gives me great comfort to know that at one moment in his life, Tarantino was once a young film buff like me. And then one day, he got inspired. If it can happen to him; then it can happen to me. Or at least that's what I'm betting on. And if not; I'm screwed.

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January 22, 2012
I thought this came before "Pulp Fiction" as part of the Sundance filmfest--but I may be mistaken. I do agree that this became more popular after Tarantino made his mark with "Pulp". This was so clever that I never get tired of it.
More Reservoir Dogs reviews
review by . October 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
On the way to a heist, three robbers all talked of their love of Kojak, Janis Ian and Boxcar Bertha
Chances are good that you saw Pulp Fiction before this movie.  I think only the indie film scene saw this movie first before it became in a roundabout way, the must see movie after Tarantino's breakout movie Pulp Fiction even though it was the first film he made.  The wait in between movies was amazingly short.      The story is how a Los Angeles gangster, Joe Cabot has put together a team of 6 armed robbers to knock over a jewelry store and steal a new shipment …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Not as good as Pulp Fiction, but one my favorites. A great debut for QT. A film that is both fun and intense at the same time.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Greeeeeaat movie. Snappy dialogue. Michael Madsen steals this movie!
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A movie filled with lots of action and suspense.A great line-up and edge of the seat suspense. A must see
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tarrantino's first movie showed he had the goods with his inventive script, quotable dialouge and great casting with the members of a gang of thieves out to rob a jewelry store and it going horribly wrong. Some say it was his jump start to Pulp Fiction and others will say it's just as good.
review by . February 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It has the all the makings of a great film but it lacks a true labor of love and a steady hand..
While it has all the ingredients of a powerful and brutal gangster classic   this 1992 cult sensation is just missing one key ingredient, Intelligence.  While it does show some intelligence in its plotting and it cinematography and camera work. But it lacks true human intelligence, wit and brutal style and reduces it's very diverse and colorful characters to nothing more than a bunch of squabbling children with loaded guns in nice black suits. But Tarantino  does his best  …
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2009
Tarantino's first movie is a small marvel of gunmen in a heist gone horribly wrong. Violent at times and others laid back and interesting.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie



Director: Quentin Tarantino
Genre: Mystery, Drama, Comedy
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Studio: Miramax Films, Artisan Entertainment
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