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The Independent Critic

Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgard, Skipp Sudduth, and Jan Triska
John Frankenheimer
J.D. Zeik, Richard Weisz
Rated R
122 Mins.
Arrow Films

 "Ronin" Gets Blu-ray Release with Arrow Films 
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In the early minutes of John Frankenheimer's Ronin, we meet an international band of killers gathered at a Paris bistro who appear to be not far removed from the traditional Japanese definition of ronin. In Japanese legend, the ronin were essentially freelancing samurai whose lords had been killed. As a result, they wandered the countryside seeking hire. The same is true for this crew that includes the American named Sam (Robert De Niro), whom everyone believes to be ex-CIA, the Frenchman Vincent (Jean Reno), the Russian computer expert and possibly former KGB Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard), the English Spence (Sean Bean), and another American, Larry (Skipp Sudduth), who, having watched this film again quite recently, struck me a lot like Ansel Elgort's Baby Driver. 

The actual story in Ronin is fairly minimal, a fact that may help to explain the film's modest box-office reception upon its initial release in 1998. Ronin is more of an atmospheric film, a character-driven drama that doesn't so much worry about a cohesive narrative as it does worry about forwarding each of its characters. Essentially, these men have been called together by the IRA via the person of Natasha McElhone's Deidre. 

Ronin is a pure action flick. If you are a fan of the film, then you already know that. The story, when it does occur, is often silly and contradictory but the ensemble cast is uniformly strong and convincing and absolutely fun to watch. It is said, though not credited, that David Mamet created the script's final draft and you can sense the Mamet underlying humor popping its head out of the action from time to time. Again, none of this really makes sense but it comes close and it comes close enough so as not to distract from everything that does work really well in this entertaining action flick that has been given a pretty remarkable 4k restoration by Arrow Films. 

If you like the film or love the film or just want to watch the film? This is the version to watch. 


  • Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release, supervised and approved by director of photography Robert Fraisse
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p)
  • Original English 5.1 audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer
  • Brand new video interview with director of photography Robert Fraisse
  • Paul Joyce documentary on Robert De Niro
  • Ronin: Filming in the Fast Lane, an archival behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Through the Lens, an archival interview with Robert Fraisse
  • The Driving of Ronin, an archival featurette on the film’s legendary car stunts
  • Natascha McElhone: An Actor’s Process, an archival interview with the actress
  • Composing the Ronin Score, an archival interview with composer Elia Cmiral
  • In the Ronin Cutting Room, an archival interview with editor Tony Gibbs
  • Venice Film Festival interviews with Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Natascha McElhone
  • Alternate ending
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 

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