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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

82






Studio and Year: MGM - 1998
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 121 Minutes
Genre: Thriller/Action

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: MPEG-2
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


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."



Film Synopsis:


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!




My Take:


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.




Parental Guide:


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)


Audio: 82


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:





Video: 82


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

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.**



Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Theatrical trailer

  • (HD) Three previews - Usual suspects, Walking tall, and Out of time





Final Thoughts:


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.














Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector

Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen

Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player

Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier

Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
 

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Ralph.....thanks! I've been waiting for this to be released on HD (any HD format) for a long time. One of my favorite action films that is a step above the genre in both writing and acting.


The car chase sequences will rival (and most times surpass) anything that's been done before or since.


Kind of disappointing about the soundtrack. But, I like it so much, I'll pick it up, anyway.
 

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One of my favorite DiNiro flicks. Good to hear that the picture quality is decent.
 

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Ralph - Thanks for the review. I have never actually seen this movie but have seen it on the movie channels recently. I was holding out for the Blu-ray and now I can get the chance.
 

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I used to have this on DVHS (recorded from HDNET), and i cant wait to see this on blu-ray!


To this day, Ronin (IMO) has the best car chases of all time ever put on film.
 

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Great car chases indeed.


I especially enjoyed the acting/directing during the wrong-way tunnel chase. The viewer can see (and therefore feel) the grueling nature of these encounters through the acting of Ms McElhone (I should say the DREAMY SUPERHOT McElhone) and Mr DeNiro. Anxiety is well expressed by these two during that chase, and the fatigue and concentration is clear on their faces.
 

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Bought this today and watched it, always a favorite.


Man, it's easy to see some GOD AWFUL artificial CGI tire smoke when they take off in that brown Mercedes sedan. Very Land of the Lost bad special effects...
 

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Great action film that's under-rated,the car chase scenes are the best I've ever seen.

Very disappointing that the BD version uses MPEG-2 video and has no extras.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts /forum/post/15902938


I bought (and still own) the original DVD release of Ronin 10 years ago.

I also own the original DVD release. The movie is one of my all-time favorites. It's one of the first movies that I ever played on my first HT system. I still remember how cool I thought the bass was when DeNiro fired his machine gun.


The car chases were awesome, & DeNiro has some of the best lines:


Bean: "Your country? Not done too well, though, have you? Last few wars?"

DeNiro: "Perhaps not, but as least we don't go around whining about it."


Bean: "You think too hard."

DeNiro: "Nobody ever told me that before."
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by kpoon /forum/post/15908060


I also own the original DVD release. The movie is one of my all-time favorites. It's one of the first movies that I ever played on my first HT system. I still remember how cool I thought the bass was when DeNiro fired his machine gun.


The car chases were awesome, & DeNiro has some of the best lines:


Bean: "Your country? Not done too well, though, have you? Last few wars?"

DeNiro: "Perhaps not, but as least we don't go around whining about it."


Bean: "You think too hard."

DeNiro: "Nobody ever told me that before."

Greetings,


Absolutely great stuff...


Gregor: "So, what color IS the boathouse at Hereford"?

Sam: "How should I know"


Vincent: "What would you like for Christmas?"

Sam: "My two front teeth"

Vincent: "May your wish be granted"



Cheers,
 

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Ronin's a big favorite of mine, too. I'm disappointed that MGM used MPEG-2 and would understand it if MGM was still owned by MGM, because they had a habit of releasing catalogue titles minus improvements. Anyone ever see the terrible job they did on the Who'll Stop The Rain dvd ? The PQ on my dvd copy is pretty good and I'm not sure I want to spend $30 or so for a less than stellar Blu-ray version.
 

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I've owned this on VHS, regular DVD, SE DVD, and I knew once I bought a blu-ray player I would be destined to own it on that too.


I just wonder if a more deluxe version may be coming...


The against-traffic and tunnel chase scenes still send tingles up my spine every time.
 

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I just added it to my Netflix list!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by OmahaTVAddict /forum/post/15910519


I need a blu-ray player so I can get this.

My humble suggestion is to check on the Panasonic DMP-BD30K. It delivers a great performance and it is very affordable.
 

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This is a MUST have for fast paced, car action scene lovers. Definitely getting this one as well. There goes my paycheck again. LOL
 

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I've tried watching this film several times. I just can't get into it, even with DeNiro in the cast.


I know there are tons of fans for this one, but for the life of me I can't see what they are digging. Maybe I've just seen too many "elite groups" of something or other.
 

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I have this on DTS laserdisc and it is superb. I will have to rent it on blu and see if it is an improvement from that presentation...


Kevin
 

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I used to demo the shooting scene / chase scene where Jean Reno controls the stop light to get the action started. Those bazooka blasts and directional machine gun sounds always made my HT shine.


I'll have to upgrade to BR and lossless sound.
 

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Best line from the film is regarding interrogation...


[discussing interrogation techniques]

Larry: How did they finally get to you?

Sam: They gave me a grasshopper.

Larry: What's a grasshopper?

Sam: Lessee, two parts gin, one part brandy, one part Creme de Menthe...


Runner up...


Spence: You worried about saving your own skin?

Sam: Yeah, I am. It covers my body.
 
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