Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 American crime film marking debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino. It depicts the events before and after a botched diamond heist, but not the heist itself. Reservoir Dogs stars an ensemble cast: Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, and Lawrence Tierney. Tarantino has a minor role, as does criminal-turned-author Eddie Bunker. It incorporates many themes that have become Tarantino’s hallmarks: violent crime, pop culture references, profuse profanity, and a nonlinear storyline. The film contains key elements similar to those found in Ringo Lam’s 1987 film City On Fire.
The film has become a classic of independent film and a cult hit. It was named “Greatest Independent Film of all Time” by Empire. Reservoir Dogs was generally well received, and the cast was praised by many critics. Although it was never given much promotion upon release, the film was a modest success by grossing $2,832,029, which made its $1.2 million budget back. However, it did become a major hit in the United Kingdom, grossing nearly £6.5 million, and it achieved higher popularity after the success of Tarantino’s next directorial effort, Pulp Fiction.
A soundtrack titled Reservoir Dogs: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released featuring songs used in the film, mostly from the 1970s. In 2006, a Reservoir Dogs video game was released which was banned in some jurisdictions for its violence.
The film begins with eight men eating breakfast at a Los Angeles diner. Six of them are using aliases: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker), Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel). With them are gangster Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and his son, “Nice Guy” Eddie (Chris Penn).
After they leave the diner, the action abruptly cuts to a speeding car, in which Mr. White is comforting Mr. Orange, who has been shot in the abdomen and is bleeding badly. They arrive at an abandoned warehouse. Mr. Pink arrives next, and he angrily suggests that the group’s diamond heist, orchestrated by Joe Cabot, was a setup, due to the rapid police response. The men also discuss the actions of Mr. Blonde, who murdered several civilians in the jewelry store after the alarm had been triggered. Mr. White is angered that Joe Cabot, an old friend of his, employed such a psychopath and agrees about the possibility of a setup. Mr. Pink also reveals that he escaped with the diamonds and hid them in a secure location. They argue over whether to take Mr. Orange, who is now unconscious, to a hospital, and Mr. White reveals that he told Mr. Orange his true first name and where he was from.
Mr. Blonde, who has been watching them from a distance, steps forward and ends the dispute. Mr. White berates him for his deadly rampage, but Mr. Blonde calmly dismisses the criticism. He tells the others to stay as Nice Guy Eddie is on his way. Mr. Blonde has captured a police officer, Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz), and the three men beat Nash in an attempt to find out who the informant is. Eddie then arrives at the warehouse, and orders Mr. Pink and Mr. White to assist him in retrieving the stolen diamonds and disposing of the hijacked vehicles, while Mr. Blonde stays with Nash and the unconscious Mr. Orange.
Alone with Mr. Blonde, Nash denies any knowledge of a setup, but Mr. Blonde is uninterested and wishes to torture Marvin for his own amusement. As the radio plays the Stealers Wheel song, “Stuck in the Middle with You”, Mr. Blonde does a menacing dance, slashing at Marvin’s face with a straight razor and severing his right ear. He then douses Marvin in gasoline, but before he can ignite it, Mr. Orange shoots and kills Mr. Blonde. Mr. Orange tells Nash he is an undercover cop, and reassures Marvin that a massive police force is in position nearby but is waiting until Joe arrives before moving in.
Eddie, Mr. Pink, and Mr. White return to the warehouse to find Mr. Blonde dead. Mr. Orange claims that Mr. Blonde was going to kill all of them and take the diamonds for himself. After impulsively pulling out his gun and killing Nash, Eddie rejects Mr. Orange’s claims, telling him that Mr. Blonde was a close personal friend who had always remained loyal to him and his father. As Mr. Orange struggles to justify his actions, Joe arrives and reveals that Mr. Blue is dead, and confidently accuses Mr. Orange of being an informant, forcing Mr. White to defend his friend.
Joe is about to execute Mr. Orange when Mr. White pulls his gun on Joe, and Eddie in turn trains his gun on Mr. White. A Mexican standoff ensues. Suddenly Joe shoots Mr. Orange, wounding him again, Mr. White shoots and kills Joe in response, Eddie shoots Mr. White, severely wounding him, and Mr. White shoots and kills Eddie.
Mr. Pink, who hid under the stairs to avoid the shootout, takes the diamonds and flees the warehouse. Police sirens and shouting are heard outside, followed by several shots. As Mr. White cradles Mr. Orange in his arms, Mr. Orange reveals that he is in fact an undercover cop. This devastates Mr. White, who begins sobbing in frustration and points his gun at Mr. Orange’s head. The police storm the warehouse, demanding that he drop his gun; Mr. White refuses and shoots Mr. Orange, and the police open fire on Mr. White as the film ends.
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First Published: Mar 4, 2012 – Last Updated: Apr 21, 2013