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RONIN: DVD

Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) is a secretive young Irish woman who has assembled an international group of experienced covert operatives (with no particular allegiances, like the Ronin, lordless Samurai) in Paris: Sam (Robert De Niro), Larry (Skipp Sudduth), Vincent (Jean Reno), Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard), and Spence (Sean Bean). Their task is to steal a mysterious briefcase. After staking out their prey and establishing their plan in Nice, the group strikes and retrieves the briefcase, but things immediately go wrong. One of the group flees with the valuable item, and the chase begins. As allegiances change, the team members realise they can trust no one. As the team attempts to retrieve the coveted case and its unknown contents, they discover that more operatives, including Russian businessman Mikhi (Feodor Atkine) and another mysterious fellow, Seamus (Jonathan Pryce), also want the briefcase and will kill anyone in their way.

"With DVD releases that feature director's commentary, it is the 'quality' of the commentary that determines how big a plus that is for the enjoyment of the experience. In this case, Frankenheimer ensures a far richer viewing of the film second (or third) time around. Not only does his take us inside his mind and behind the scenes, he explains some of the filmmaking language in such simple and accessible terms that you are darwn into the process. This greater, deeper understanding adds texture to the film itself, and enhances the enjoyment of every scene. Obviously, it is recommended that you see the film in the normal way first; then I suggest the commentated version, and then the spectacular Filming in the Fast Lane documentary (made for tv, so it's a boxier image). The alternative ending I would leave till last. Insights gleaned from the extra features include a note about the unusual dodic (musical instrument) used in the score, and how an accidental fall by stuntment stayed in the film. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect is the lack of imposed special effects; Frankenheimer went to great lengths to make the film almost documentary in style, and avoided CGI entirely. It's old fashioned realism. If you've seen the movie and enjoyed it, this is a great opportunity to extend that enjoyment."
Andrew L. Urban

"Relive the moody magic of Ronin on DVD; this superb thiller deserves a pride of place in your library. John Frankenheimer gives an insight into how the breathtaking car chases were shot, the stunt co-ordination, the wide angle lenses and how the great depth of focus was achieved…. these fascinating behind the scenes glimpses give a greater appreciation of a film that intrigues, thrills and never lets up. Paris never looked more French – the atmosphere is real and never Hollywood. The car chase scenes are extremely real; the actors may not have been actually driving the cars themselves, but you can feel the speed on their faces: they were actually in the cars driven by Formula One drivers. (The actors were given high performance driving lessons to prepare them; would YOU sit in a BMW or a Porsche that's being towed by a Mercedes at race-track speeds through the narrow streets of France?) Frankenheimer is generous in explaining the processes of filmmaking – from the multiple cameras to little tricks here and there. We talk to the stars and hear their thoughts about this film. Navigation is straight forward and leads you directly to the scene of your choice, or straight into the action. If you haven't seen Ronin before, fasten your seatbelt; if not, don't waste any time – this is a trip to thrill."
Louise Keller

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RONIN (M) 15+
(US)

CAST: Robert De Niro, Jean Ronin, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgard, Sean Bean, Jonathan Pryce

DIRECTOR: John Frankenheimer

AUSTRALIAN DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

AUSTRALIAN DVD RELEASE: August 1999

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We gratefully acknowledge the complimentary use of a DVD player from Philips.

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