Blu-ray Review: RONIN

MGM/Fox Home Entertainment
Release date: Feb 24th, 2009
MSRP: $34.98

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean, and Skipp Sudduth and Natascha McElhone

Ronin \Ro”nin”\, n. [Jap. r[=o]-nin, fr. Chin. lang profligate,
lawless + j[^e]n (old sound n[=i]n) man.]
In Japan, under the feudal system, a samurai who had
renounced his clan or who had been discharged or ostracized
and had become a wanderer without a lord; an outcast; an

Like those warriors of old, a group of mercenaries from around the world gather for a job in France. They know, and care, little about one another or the cause behind the mission. They have gathered for a job and the paycheck that comes with it.

In fact, the only one that seems to ask questions is Sam (Robert De Niro). His interests seem more based on a desire to get out alive than anything else.

Most are not what they seem: Some are better than they let on, some worse. Some will prove to have great loyalty, one will betray. It is that betrayal that moves Ronin into overdrive, taking us on a breathtaking journey.

Armed with an excellent screenplay by David Mamet (writing under a pseudonym), John Frankenheimer directs an outstanding cast (De Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean, and Skipp Sudduth and Natascha McElhone) in smart, action flick for adults. Ronin does not asume the veiwers are stupid,it moves quickly and expects viewers to keep up. There are chase scenes and gun fights, but these manage to avoid seeming gratuitous. I do have to say I would be interested in knowing the total number of cars totaled in the last chase scene. 100? 200? A freakin’ ton!

Full of style, along with a hearty helping of substance, Ronin stands above the legions of mindless action flicks that cluttered the 90s. As a matter of fact, I would say that Ronin proves that any type of film can be done well. Too many times, I have heard films defended with the line “What do you want? It is an action flick!”

What I want is what Ronin offers: A good script, a solid cast far better than solid) and direction that is above the mindset of a 12 year old.

I have to give major props to the cast. While little is revealed about these characters, the actors do an excellent job of fleshing them out.

Along with a bucket of popcorn and a cool, refreshing beverage, Ronin is the ideal Friday evening for anyone that likes their action with some smarts.0

The image is ok, but nothing stellar. My impression is that this is a clean print with a very simply transfer to 1080p. I am not suggesting that a major reworking should have been done, but why transfer it if no real attempts are going be made to take advantage of the new medium?

Sound is good, with a solid lossless track. At times, the voices seems a little muffed. This was a little frustrating with all of the accents.

Dolby Digital tracks are offered for French and Spanish, along with subtitles for English, Spanish, Cantonese and Korean.

What the f**K? The extras from the previous DVD releases are missing, with nothing new added. This makes no sense whatsoever! If nothing else, why not include the previous features that are simply laying around?

Sadly, I can’t see making a case for upgrading. If you purchased the last release, you have a picture about as good, with some extras to boot. MGM could have put a little effort into this puppy, but chose to go the quick and dirty route. Ronin is a good film that deserves better.

Order Ronin from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.