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USA 1992
Directed by
Quentin Tarantino
99 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino's first film, which he also co-wrote and acted in (with an admirable measure of self-deprecation giving himself the name of Mr Brown), is a bloody, foul-mouthed testosterone-driven tour-de-force of contemporary B grade crime film about a jewellery robbery gone wrong that remains a benchmark for independent film-makers.

Opening with a convivial breakfast amongst eight hardened criminals who are arguing over the meaning of Madonna's 'Like A Virgin', followed by the classic opening credits over the George Baker Selection's Little Green Bag it then cuts to Mr Orange (Tim Roth), bloodied and writhing in the back seat of a car driven by Mr White (Harvey Keitel). From then on the intensity does not let up as we cut between a warehouse rendezvous where these two hole up and eventually Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) and then Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) show up and flashbacks to the failed heist as we find out what went wrong with the job and why.

Although some people will find the level of violence offensively self-indulgent, Tarantino's film is very much addressed to the crime film aficionado to whom the lovely red stuff will be a treat. The script is skilfully thought out, using the non-linear structure to great effect, and the characterisations and dialogue are whip-smart with first class performances all round. Harvey Keitel, who was also co-producer, stands out, whilst B grade veteran bad guy Lawrence Tierney, was a masterstroke of casting as the old-time crime boss, Joe Cabot. Chris Penn, brother to Sean, makes his most memorable screen appearance whilst Steve Buscemi and Michael Madsen respectively give wonderful performances, both introducing a grotesque humour that ensures the film never plays it entirely straight.

FYI: Co-writer Roger Avary went on to direct an execrable, bigger budgeted version of the same idea in Killing Zoe (1994).

 

 

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