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directed by John Frankenheimer
USA 1998

Ronin, the new action thriller from director John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), opens up by helpfully informing us of the following: "In feudal Japan, the warrior class of samurai were sworn to protect their liege lords with their lives. Those samurai whose liege was killed suffered great shame, and... were no longer referred to as samurai... Such men were called Ronin." And, although the film takes place in modern-day France, not ancient Japan, the main characters are all, in their own way, Ronin. They are munitions experts, tactical masters, and battle-hardened veterans of the Cold War who, after the systematic dismantling of the Eastern Bloc, find themselves without a master to serve. So they sell themselves to the highest bidder.

Personality-wise, they fit somewhere between the Magnificent Seven and the Dirty Dozen. There are, however, only five of them (six if you count the woman who's paying for their services). The most visible, and the one with the best instincts, is Sam (Robert De Niro), an ex-CIA operative who needs the money a job like this offers.

 

[...]
 

The trademark style of writer David Mamet is indelibly imprinted upon this script. Although the dialogue doesn't bear the staccato rhythm that Mamet brings to the movies he directs, the lines are sharp and occasionally bitingly funny. According to Frankenheimer, Mamet is responsible for almost the entire screenplay. However, since the Writer's Guild decided that he had to share credit with J.D. Zeik, who originated the story, Mamet elected to go by the pseudonym of Richard Weisz. But, even though there is no "Mamet" to be found anywhere in the credits, his fingerprints are all over Ronin.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli's review located HERE

 

Theatrical Release: September 12th, 1998 - Venice Film Festival

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Comparison: 

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japan) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. MGM (US) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Arrow (4K Restored) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Also on Blu-ray, from Arrow, in the UK:

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC

20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese edition)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

MGM (US)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Arrow

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 2:01:12 2:01:04 2:01:33.786 2:01:33.786 2:01:34.787

Video

2.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.58 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 22,588,606,840 bytes

Feature Size: 21,479,909,376 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.56 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-2

Disc Size: 22,890,031,000 bytes

Feature Size: 21,343,684,608 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.41 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-2

Disc Size: 48,580,956,074 bytes

Feature Size: 39,186,546,240 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.43 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4- AVC

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate : MGM

Bitrate: MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Bitrate: Blu-ray (Japan)

Bitrate: Blu-ray (US)

Bitrate: Blu-ray Arrow

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUBs: French (Dolby Digital 5.1) English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUBs: French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) DTS-HD Master Audio English 4246 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4246 kbps / 24-bit
(DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio Japanese 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4246 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4246 kbps / 24-bit
(DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby
Surround

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3929 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3929 kbps
/ 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, French and None English, Spanish, French and None English, Japanese and None English, Chinese (traditional), French, Korean, Spanish, and None English, (SDH) and None
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.30:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by: director 'John Frankenheimer'
• Alternative ending
• 
8-page booklet featuring stunning insights into the making of the movie

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 1999
Keep case

Chapters 32

Release Information:
Studio: MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2,30:1

Edition Details:
Disc One:
• Audio commentary with Director John Frankenheimer
• Alternate ending
Disc Two
• Original Venice Film Festival interviews with Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, and Natasha McElhone
• Documentary: "Ronin: Filming in the Fast Lane"
• Featurette: "In the Cutting Room with Tony Gibbs"
• Featurette: Composing The Ronin Score
• Featurette: Natascha McElhone: An Actor's Process
• Featurette: The Driving of Ronin
• Featurette: Through the Lens
Animated Photo Gallery

 

DVD Release Date: May 9th, 2006
Double slim keep case

Chapters 3

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

 

Disc Size: 22,588,606,840 bytes

Feature Size: 21,479,909,376 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.56 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-2

 

Edition Details:
Disc One:
• Trailers (X-Men etc.)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: December 21st, 2007
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 32

 

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

 

Disc Size: 22,890,031,000 bytes

Feature Size: 21,343,684,608 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.41 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-2

 

Edition Details:
Disc One:
• Theatrical trailer (2:28 in HD!)

• Theatrical trailers (in HD!)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: February 24th, 2009
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 32

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

 

Disc Size: 48,580,956,074 bytes

Feature Size: 39,186,546,240 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.43 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-2- AVC

 

Edition Details:

 Audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer
 Brand new video interview with director of photography Robert Fraisse (31:27)
Paul Joyce documentary on Robert De Niro (27:01)

Archival Featurettes:
 Ronin: Filming in the Fast Lane, an archival behind-the-scenes featurette (17:54)
 Through the Lens, an archival interview with Robert Fraisse (17:57)
 The Driving of Ronin, an archival featurette on the film s legendary car stunts (15:30)
 Natascha McElhone: An Actor s Process, an archival interview with the actress (13:57)
 Composing the Ronin Score, an archival interview with composer Elia Cmiral (11:52)
 In the Ronin Cutting Room, an archival interview with editor Tony Gibbs (18:56)
 Venice Film Festival interviews with Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Natascha McElhone (20:41)
 Alternate ending (1:49)
 Theatrical trailer (2:28)
 Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
 FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet illustrated by Chris Malbon, featuring new writing on the film by critic Travis Crawford

 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 14th, 29th, 2017
Transparent
Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc. 

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray August 2017: This is being simultaneously released by Arrow on Blu-ray in both Region 'A' + 'B'. Regarding differences in the US and UK Blu's - This appears to be as Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook about Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' Ronin is the same case.

Obviously, the 2007 and 2009, using the clunkier MPEG-2 encode as opposed to AVC and can't hold a candle to the 4K restoration, advertised as 'cinematographer-approved'. The superiority is duly noted in colors - especially skin tones that look far more realistic. If you compare the large captures - toggling between - you can see some aspect ratio distortion on the old US and Japanese BDs as well. There are no visible compression artifacts (present on the older Blu-rays) that I could see on the new Arrow HD transfer. It's quite apparent in-motion. No contest, at all in terms of image.

The audio is also improved, although technically the same offering a robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track. But Arrow add the option of a linear PCM stereo (also 24-bit). The aggressive score by Czech composer Elia Cmiral (Stigmata) sounds fabulous matching the car chases and gunfights - bullet by bullet. It's clear, deep and for the 5.1 - floor rattling. The Arrow offers optional English (SDH) subtitle - see sample - identifying the French language when utilized. As stated the Arrow Blu-ray is Region FREE (or both 'A' + 'B').

The Arrow adds all the extras from the previous digital releases including the audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer - as found on the DVDs but absent on the older Blu-rays. They have added a new 1/2 hour video interview with director of photography Robert Fraisse about the production - mostly his part in the filming and a 30-minute, 1994, documentary on Robert De Niro by Paul Joyce. It includes input from Quentin Tarantino. The archival featurettes are all here, Ronin: Filming in the Fast Lane, Through the Lens, an archival interview with Robert Fraisse, Natascha McElhone: An Actor's Process, Composing the Ronin Score, In the Ronin Cutting Room, an archival interview with editor Tony Gibbs plu the Venice Film Festival interviews with Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Natascha McElhone - all in almost 2 hours of the older video supplements. There is a brief alternate ending, a theatrical trailer and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork and for the first pressing, only, a collector's booklet illustrated by Chris Malbon, featuring new writing on the film by critic Travis Crawford.

If you're not convinced that this is the Blu-ray edition to own, then I'll give my two cents - this package is, by far, the ultimate for Frankenheimer's adrenalin-packed, high energy crime drama with a stellar cast. Buy with extreme confidence. 

***

ADDITION: MGM - US Blu-ray - February 09': Bad news - unfortunately the US Blu-ray is still single-layered and MPEG-2 and exactly the same image as the Japanese. Audio is exactly the same as well at 4246 kbps. This is still bare-bones and in fact the only differences are in the addition of a French and Spanish DUB and Chinese (traditional), French, Korean, Spanish subtitles. This is kind of a joke - it took MGM over a year to make this available in North American and when they do they don't upgrade one iota.

Although this is better than the DVDs - it is still a weak high-def transfer.

****

ON JAPANESE VERSION: NOTE: Firstly - to clear things up - this is the 2007 Japanese Blu-ray - also 'region A' which includes North America, Central America, South America, Japan (where this Blu-ray is from), Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. So it plays on North American Blu-ray  players.

We expect the upcoming US release will be a different package (ex. English menus instead of Japanese etc.) but the video transfer may be the same. We will compare when we have the US Blu-ray.

This is single-layered with very warm skin tones but improves in detail. It shows grain but also some noise and artifacts, in monochromatic darkness. We can hope the upcoming Blu-ray advances upon this with dual-layering - hence producing better compression. Also this Japanese edition uses only the MPEG-2 encode which leaves plenty of room for demonstratively superior visuals if rendered with MPEG-4. In short, it improves upon the DVDs but it can, and will, look a lot better in my opinion. 

Audio: The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounded reasonably buoyant - accentuating much of the explosive action to the rear channels. It sounded rather heavy at times to my ears and, like the image, could show more depth and range. This is till a strong track though and may not be bettered. There is a Japanese DTS 5.1 DUB and subtitle options in English or Japanese.

Extras: I didn't dig too deep getting frustrated by the Japanese menus but there are some trailers (for Ronin) and some, what appears to be (I could be wrong), high-def examples including X-Men 3. There are no commentaries or any of the extensive supplements found on the Collectors edition in SD. This is another area I would expect the upcoming US Blu-ray edition to advance. We will compare here as soon as we receive it.

 - Gary Tooze

***

ON THE DVDs: There is not a lot of difference between these two releases for the feature disc. The new Collector's Edition is a shade brighter, and possibly a bit softer too. Skin tones are whiter in the CE and I even found some very minor combing in the new release (we assume the 'alchemist' transfer method may have been utilized). I doubt there will be many who are unhappy with either edition in regards to the image - it looks quite nice on both fronts. The 2-disc CE offers and extra optional Spanish DUB and Spanish subtitles, but they have removed the liner notes from the original release. The Frankenheimer commentary is the same - ditto for the alternate ending clips.

The big pull to this new DVD package are the 2nd disc of extras. I always enjoy Frankenheimer films and this is no exception but I wasn't overly impressed with the extras on the new CE. Some interesting - some filler, but I would be satisfied just owning the old release. MGM haven't done anything exceptional to the image (it didn't require it) and I found most extra features superfluous. If you think you may one day wade through these extras then the extra $6 may be worth it. For me it wasn't.    

 - Gary Tooze

RONIN - This is a remarkable film and the last great work of the always underrated Frankenheimer. Made before the Spy Genre made a full post-Cold War return, the great action sequences, all-time amazing car chases and suspenseful pace are matched by a solid script that is above what the Spy franchises keep offering. It is more realistic than any of the Brosnan Bonds, XXX films, purposely commercial MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE films and except for TAILOR OF PANAMA, is one of the few serious-minded Spy films of the last thirty years. The DVD picture is not bad, but not great. After going through the trouble of creating a double set, you'd think Sony-controlled MGM would have added the still-stunning DTS mix the film continues to offer, but they only offer lesser Dolby Digital.

Nicholas Sheffo from FulvueDrive-In.com


Menus

(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - Disc 2

Blu-ray Japanese Menus

 

Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


Screen Captures

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


Subtitle Sample: We can't obtain sub samples for Blu-ray yet!

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) 20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) MGM (US) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Arrow Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Arrow Blu-ray

Sound:

Arrow Blu-ray

Extras: Arrow Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Also on Blu-ray, from Arrow, in the UK:

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC

20th Century Fox / MGM (Japanese edition)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

MGM (US)

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Arrow

Region FREE - Blu-ray

 




 

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