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RONIN. Noun, historical. A samurai who no longer serves a daimyo, or feudal lord.
From director John Frankenheimer (Reindeer Games, The Manchurian Candidate) comes Ronin, a pulse-pounding, action-packed crime thriller featuring an all-star cast headlined by Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, Heat) and Jean Reno (Léon: The Professional).
On a rain-swept night in Paris, an international crack team of professional thieves assembles, summoned by a shady crime syndicate fronted by the enigmatic Deirdre (Natascha McElhone, The Devil s Own). Their mission: to steal a heavily guarded briefcase from armed mobsters, its contents undisclosed. But what begins as a routine heist soon spirals into chaos, with the group beset by a series of double-crosses and constantly shifting allegiances, and it falls to world-weary former CIA strategist Sam (De Niro) and laconic Frenchman Vincent (Reno) to hold the mission together.
A latter-day return to form for Frankenheimer, the film evokes the same gritty milieu as classic 70s crime fare like The French Connection, in addition to anticipating the early 21st century trend towards more grounded, realistic action movies, exemplified by the likes of the Bourne franchise. Arrow Video is proud to present Ronin in a brand new, cinematographer-approved 4K restoration, allowing this jewel in the crown of 90s thriller cinema to shine like never before.
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Through double-cross and intrigue, the briefcase remains elusive. Plans are revised, payments are "re-negotiated", and hunters become hunted to the point of making for a five-sided chase. Even the Russians become involved, including an unassuming touring figure skater played by Katarina Witt. It all sounds very contrived and even trite to a degree, but attached to this story are some of the fiercest street gunfights and most exciting car chases any action film fan could hope for! Many innocents (and vehicles!) become victims, but these adversaries in espionage openly shop, dine, and roam the streets as if they're tourists and the French authorities are on some far-off planet. Through death and deceit, De Niro and Reno eventually form a buddy-buddy duo to exact revenge and extract payment. "Old friends from high school" appear out of nowhere to aid in the alternating pursuits and escapes. Ironically, actor Michael Lonsdale, who was so great as the assassin-pursuing French Inspector Lebel in Fred Zinneman's The Day of the Jackal, does a marvelous turn as one of these convenient "friends", providing refuge to the pair for some do-it-yourself surgery. While the hunt and chase is on, viewers are also treated to some marvelous French town and cityscapes, including the ancient Roman amphitheater at Arles and the traffic tunnels of Paris.
Ronin is a film for those who can suspend their sense of logic to allow themselves to be taken for the ride. Thankfully, nothing devolves into outright camp a la James Bond. The danger of this approach is that for the film to be effective, the viewer must be held in thrall by these contrived characters and their actions to the point of being oblivious to their real-world consequences. De Niro, director John Frankenheimer and company manage to pull it off. Because of its sheer unabashed cinematicism and no-holds-barred direction, Ronin succeeds in pushing this reviewer's grade one star above average when the film's holes could just as easily have let it fall one star below.
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This new transfer is awesome.
Such a great film from beginning to end.