Ronin (VHS, 1999, Contemporary Classics)

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"Ronin" -- Bringing the brains back to the brawn through smart storytelling...

Mar 1, 2001 (Updated Mar 4, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great action movie - it brings brains back along side the brawn!

Cons:None that I can think of...

The Bottom Line: Good films deserve to be seen.


"Ronin" is the new film that puts a European twist on the action genre. It stars Robert DeNero as the lead of a selected group of trained men who are immediately assembled at the beginning of this movie and sent out on a mission to find a silver briefcase.

We are never told the contents of his briefcase, and in a way it makes their mission seem as futile as the mission the characters in "Pulp Fiction" were on. This plot device really shows us the desperation in these aging character's lives. The fact that they are so desperate for money makes them willing to do extraordinarily dangerous things for people they hardly know. And in a way that idea parallels the story line of that other Quentin Tarantino movie "Resevoir Dogs."

But "Ronin" is different -- it's more in the vein of a James Bond movie -- only better. The movie has this great European feel to it - and it's not just because it was filmed in Europe - rather it has this feel because of the mood it creates. There's a tension and a romance to this film that reminded me of a great made for TV movie, made in the 1980s called "The Sword of Guideon." This film too dealt with a group of highly trained men sent out by the state of Isreal to seek out and kill the terrorists behind the 1972 olympic massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by the PLO. That movie painted a picture of a similar group of men, and we learn about them as they work towards their collective goal. "Ronin" in that respect is similar and also manages to throw in the action of a great James Bond movie. The car chases in "Ronin" are breath-takingly shot.

Also, in many of the scenes the musical score that would normally accompany these types of action sequences are removed from "Ronin" and instead replaced with an 'enhanced' soundtrack containing nothing but the deep, tearing hums of the engines of cars involved. You're eyes are glued to the screen with each acceleration of the gass pedal. All of these natural sounds intensify the film as a whole. The chases here also reminded me of the chase scenes in "The Peacemaker," "Basic Instinct," and Alfred Hitchcock's last film -- "Family Plot."

And in many ways, "Ronin" is very much a mix of action and of the Hitchcockian. It's character driven and it's a great alternative to all those other loud Hollywood movies cause it has a storyline! I'd easily pay to see "Ronin" again as opposed to a movie like "Enemy of the State."

Grade: A

(Movie originally reviewed on November 21, 1998)


Recommend this product? Yes


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