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Let Me Tell You what ViaVision’s 4K of Reservoir Dogs is all About

Feature Presentations: Episode 88

Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on Reservoir Dogs from ViaVision Entertainment.

The Reservoir Dogs walking with their backs to the camera and the title card above their heads.

As a disclaimer of transparency, ViaVision Entertainment provided a review copy of Reservoir Dogs for this episode of Feature Presentations. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When Quentin Tarantino burst onto the scene in 1992, it’s hard to describe how much of an impact he made. His debut film, Reservoir Dogs, ushered in a new wave of independent cinema and filmmaking. The way his characters spoke was unlike anything anyone had heard before, and the non-linear storytelling kept viewers on their toes. It was an exciting time to be a film fan—especially with such an audacious first feature.

We all know that Quentin Tarantino parlayed his unlimited cinematic memory bank into one of the finest directing careers in Hollywood. From resurrecting actors’ fledgling careers in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown to creating new spins on old tropes, there wasn’t much the writer/director couldn’t do. Even as he closes in on his supposed final film, he has strived to give audiences a world of dialogue and characters rarely seen elsewhere. As Tarantino progressed throughout Hollywood, his debut film, Reservoir Dogs, has continued to influence cinema to this very day.

Quentin Tarantino has never been one to throw his entire weight behind physical media. Not to say his releases have been bare bones, akin to Woody Allen’s releases, he’s followed more of a Steven Spielberg path: offering glimpses behind the scenes, but the discs leave you wanting more—except for Reservoir Dogs.

Reservoir Dogs has had many releases during its 30-year-plus life cycle. The DVD edition got an unusual release with variant slipcovers, each featuring one character from the movie. I recall that Mr. Brown, played by Tarantino, got a limited-release version, and I, being the sucker I am, set out to find this edition. Now, with many decades in my rearview, that was a cheap ploy, and I ended up with a slipcover that’s as readily available as all the others. I couldn’t be mad with falling for a marketing trick, especially with such an extras-filled DVD.

Outside of that, it seems that every five-year anniversary that goes by, another edition hits store shelves. And here we are in 2023, and ViaVision has thrown its hat into the ring with the 4K UHD edition.

The ViaVision release of Reservoir Dogs edition is a two-disc affair. The discs come packaged inside a hard case exterior with a lenticular outer face. ViaVision limited this release to 2,000 individually-numbered units featured on a removable J-card.

Looking at the 4K/Blu-ray, I’m not an audio/visual expert, but the video appeared solid and should please most who purchase the disc.

Mr. White and Mr. Orange look at Mr. Pink as he makes a motion with his fingers to show the world's smallest violin.

ViaVision includes six glossy photos of moments and characters from Reservoir Dogs inside a red envelope. It’s a nice touch and adds a bit of gravitas to the release.

While the package thus far has been reasonably well executed, as we get into the supplemental material, the release begins to falter.

Jumping back to a moment about the DVD edition I sought, while I felt there was room for improvement, I can’t deny that the disc had a plethora of extra features. The disc featured deleted footage, select-scene commentary, and many interviews; it is probably Tarantino‘s most comprehensive physical media release. Even as the movie transitioned to Blu-ray, some of the bonus material followed over, while others did not.

As the film debuts on 4K, most of the supplemental material has been tossed aside, with few features remaining. The UHD disc only features the film; the Blu-ray holds the package’s extras.

What remains? The deleted scenes found on the DVD make their way over, and while rightfully excised, it’s interesting to see the increased character moments. None are essential and would have bogged down the runtime, but Mr. Orange is the character that gets the short end of the deleted scenes stick. The footage most interesting comes in the form of two alternate takes for the “ear scene.” More of a curiosity piece than anything else, but it’s interesting to see the different ways this infamous scene could have played out.

“Playing It Fast and Loose” is a brief analysis discussing the impact of Reservoir Dogs in cinema upon its release. Featuring a handful of commentators, each briefly examines the meaning and lasting legacy of Reservoir Dogs. “Playing It Fast and Loose” doesn’t feature anyone directly associated with the film and shows its age by showcasing Harry Knowles as a participant—but this legacy feature is the only bit of supplemental material that digs into the movie.

The last bit of extra material is another carryover from prior editions: “Profiling the Reservoir Dogs.” “Profiling” is an almost speculative feature discussing the possible backstories of each titular Dogs by their aliases. In theory, I like the concept, but the execution feels more like a hypothetical piece you’d find on YouTube than a crafted feature for a high-profile physical media release. I suppose it’s alright for what it is, but when the extras are few and far between, you hope for a more substantiative slice of the cinematic production than what “Profiling the Reservoir Dogs offers.”

I understand that there could be licensing issues in obtaining prior bonus material for inclusion on the disc, and Tarantino does not supply recent releases with jam-packed discs. It’s somewhat unfortunate to know a DVD edition exists with plenty of supplemental material, while this 4K/Blu-ray combo pack holds very little. I don’t entirely fault ViaVision, as many of their past releases have gone above and beyond in the special features department.

The Reservoir Dogs sit with their backs to the camera looking at Joe going over the heist.

And there you have it! I admit, a sense of disappointment washed over me with the ViaVision release of Reservoir Dogs on 4K/Blu-ray. The package ViaVision put together is top-notch, with a limited, numbered-edition hard box and a nice set of photos. If bonus materials aren’t your thing, the ViaVision 4K/Blu-ray will probably do the job with its stellar presentation. Those seeking a hearty helping of supplemental material will presumably come away unsatisfied and wanting more.

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a lifelong cinephile and has had an admiration with film for as long as he can remember. When he's not checking out the most recent theatrical release, viewing a movie on one of a 1,000,000,000 streaming services or picking up the latest physical media disc, he's trying and failing to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He also has a weird fascination with Stephen Dorff. Make of that what you will. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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