RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)


Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writers: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay), Roger Avary (background radio dialogue)

Cast: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Edward Bunker, Quentin Tarantino, Randy Brooks, Kirk Baltz...

Running time: 99 minutes

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): R

Genres: Crime/Thriller



Reviewed by Cherie Jung


Until last week, I was probably the only person on the planet who had NOT seen the gangster movie, RESERVOIR DOGS. I was aware of the signature walk accompanied by the hip music, "Little Green Bag." The British sitcom COUPLINGS, among others, had paid homage to the walk/song with their leading actors in an episode several years ago.

I'm not a big fan of gangster movies so I had been reluctant to view RESERVOIR DOGS and I almost switched it off before the opening credits were completed. Quentin Tarantino's rapid-fire dialogue came across as garbled mumbling. Switching to subtitles was of little help; they were only available in Spanish. My conversational Spanish is rather limited these days. I'm out of practice. But I persevered and was rewarded for my efforts.

In an interview with Tarantino in the "Special Features" section on the disc, he explains that he wanted his gangsters to be normal working professionals and for their dialogue to reflect that. His approach made a big difference in bringing the various characters to life and in getting this viewer to invest time in them. Whether the individual characters were likeable or despicable, they were still sympathetic characters. I cared about what happened to them. I wanted some of them to die. I wanted others to live; and to get away.

Except for brief flashbacks spaced throughout the film to bring viewers vital knowledge about each character, the action is confined to a warehouse where the robbers are to meet after a daylight robbery.

Since the robbery was botched, some of the arrivals are delayed and some of the robbers are in better shape than others. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the nearly empty warehouse creates a feeling that the events are unfolding more like a play, set on a stage, than a real-life struggle for survival. Yet the in-your-face confrontational dialogue of each character reminds the viewer that as the tensions mount, the characters are unraveling and anything might happen. And it does.

Initially the viewer may feel the film is excessively violent and bloody. Yet blood and violence are part of the criminal trade's repertoire and is to be expected. However, in hindsight, the viewer will recall several violent scenes but mostly, the action is dramatized through dialogue, not bullets and blood; although, at times, there are plenty of bullets and blood. One guy seems to bleed about 5 gallons of the stuff...

Long after the final credits roll across the screen, the images of RESERVOIR DOGS will linger in the viewer's mind.

If, by some chance, you haven't seen this movie, do so!

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