The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: MGM - 1998
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 121 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgard, Sean Bean, Skipp Sudduth, Jonathan Pryce
Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Music by: Elia Cmiral
Written by: J.D Zeik & Richard Weisz
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 24, 2009
"No questions. No answers."
The Cold War may be over, but a new world order keeps a group of covert mercenaries employed by the highest bidder. These operatives, known as Ronin, are assembled in France by a mysterious client for a seemingly routine mission: steal a top-secret briefcase. But the simple task soon proves explosive as other underworld organizations vie for the same prize...and to get the job done, the members of Ronin must do something they've never done before -- trust each other!
When an IRA pay mistress (McElhone) assembles an elite group of international assassins in Paris for a dangerous assignment to retrieve a mysterious suitcase, these lone soldiers will have to learn to trust each other in a world where loyalty is bought and betrayal is a way of life. They are hired to retrieve the case from several men who will be intent on preventing them from doing so (to paraphrase Deidre). The team consists of Sam (DeNiro), Vincent (Reno), Gregor (Skarsgard), Larry (Sudduth), and Deidre (McElhone) who is the point of contact for those who have hired the others. Trust is indeed hard to come by but Sam and Vincent realize that in order to successfully complete the mission and obtain the case they have to rely on one another. A careful plan is organized but things don't go as planned when treachery is afoot. This requires them to reorganize and go after the case which is now in the hands of another who is seeking to sell it to the highest bidder. Things heat up when the Russians make a bid for the case and questions arise regarding who may be an emissary sent to join the group for another purpose.
I bought (and still own) the original DVD release of Ronin 10 years ago. When the collector's edition was released back in 2006 I decided that I would hold off and wait for it to come out in high definition. This is one of my favorite action/thrillers. I just love these characters that share similar backgrounds and are brought together from various parts of the world to team up for a singular purpose. It is an intelligently conceived and executed movie that features lots of action and some of the best stunt driving captured on film. The cast seems completely in tune with their characters and the ensemble just works. This was my first experience with Stellan Skarsgard and I loved him as Gregor. DeNiro and Reno play well off of one another and their pairing is what solidified the cast and the film's central focus. John Frankenheimer;s direction is the final piece of the puzzle that brings it all together. The pacing, action based set pieces and car chase sequences make this an incredibly fun, suspenseful and engaging watch.
The rating is for strong violence and some language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Ronin comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p MPEG-2 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 17 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 mbps.
This is a fairly low bitrate encoding but it doesn't show any obvious signs of bit starvation or blocking type video artifacts as a result. It looks significantly better than the DVD version that I have in terms of resolution and sharpness. Images are defined and resolute so that the surfaces of objects and the texture of skin and clothing can be appreciated. The various French land and cityscapes featured in the film offer good visual perspective with two dimensional depth and above average refinement. Colors are well balanced with vivid looking primaries and a fairly extensive palette that looks great. Fleshtones were natural looking with warm highlights and subtle descriptive texture that varied among the differing skin types of the cast members. Blacks were strong but not infinite and detail in low lighting and dark areas was notable but not among the best that I have seen. There is a fine veil of grain that is visible against light backgrounds but is otherwise almost undetectable.
The DTS-HD MA audio delivers the goods in this rousing soundtrack. Dialogue is articulate and well intonated however it was less prominent than I would have liked. The music score sounds great as it keeps pace with the active elements associated with the more intense moments in the film. It is spread evenly across the front channels with superb imaging and crystal clarity that distinguishes the instrumentation. The surround mix isn't aggressive but it is involving as it bristles with panning effects, discrete sounds, and atmospheric envelopment that brings the film to life within the room. Dynamic range is excellent and delivers solid impact and clearly articulated audio that allows all of the sonic detail inherent with the soundtrack to be audible. Bass response is quick, clean, and authoritative but lacks room shaking depth. The firefights, car chases and explosions are all presented in a cohesive aural pattern that has positive dynamic attention and palpable impact. This presentation offers a definable improvement over the DVD version.
** The subtitles are contained within the picture area which should be of interest to those with CIH setups.**
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- (HD) Three previews - Usual suspects, Walking tall, and Out of time
Ronin is a solid action based thriller that features a good story built around some great action set pieces that include several thrilling car chase sequences. It has been a personal favorite of mine for 10 years now and I looked forward to its release in high definition with anticipation. I am pleased with its audio/video quality but find its lack of bonus features to be unacceptable. The use of a single layer Blu-ray Disc and MPEG-2 video encoding leads me to believe that this contains the elements planned for an earlier Blu-ray release of this title. This film deserves better and should have been updated to include the bonus content from the Collector's Edition DVD and a new video encoding. I am glad to have it in high definition but recommending it as an upgrade over the 2006 Collector's Edition DVD will be a tough sell. If you have never seen it I would recommend giving it a rent because it is worth seeing.
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Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
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