Sam--------------Robert De Niro
Dapper Gent------Jan Triska
WINNING THE TITLE
Ronin may be an un likely title for a contemporary Hollywood movie,but to the creators of this gritty action adventure,it made perfect sense. Taken from ancient Japanese legent,Ronin is a term used to describe Samurai warriors who-after allowing their masters to be slain-were forced to wander the land,looking for work as hired swords or bandits. Now,in the aftermath of the Cold War,in a world in which alliances have shifted and international tensions have relaxed,a new breed of Ronin has emerget:former covert agents who sell their unique and deadly abilities to the highest bidder.
The movie's fascinating premise began to form when,at the age of 15,J. D. Zeik(who co-wrote Ronin with Richard Weisz) read James Clavell's Shogun,the novel that first introduced him to the masterless samurai concept. Years later,he was planning to use the "Ronin" title and basic idea in a modern-day story when a key element fell into place. "In Nice",Zeik recounted, "I stared into the sun and saw the silhouettes of five heavily-armed Gendarmes crossing the Promenade des Anglais. That image made me realize that I wanted to set the film in France"(original theatrical press materials)
Zeik's unusual title and premise moved quickly through the development process,but even after the film was well into production,there were discussions about changing the name. Some felt it might confuse audiences,but director John Frankenheimer always liked it uniqueness. As Frankenheimer explained in Star Interviews,he disdains titles that too clearly describe a movie's premise,and he belives that two-or-three-word titles often cause films to be more easily confused with one another. In addition to its cimplicity and appropriate "vagueness",the name further appealed to Frankenhemier because it was a title that could stay the same around the world-it was unnecessary to translate for foreign release.
Above all,the title Ronin lends resonance to a suspenseful,action-packed adventure in which its heroes are every bit the modern-day equivalents of the legendary Samurai warriors. The result is a film that is both classics and fiercely contemporary in attitude,power and epic scope.
THE CHASE IS ON
Although Frankenheimer acknowledges the many recent advances made in digital special effects technology,he chose not to utilize them in executing the thrilling chases and explasive action sequences in Ronin. Instead,he filmed the stunts "live" to heighten the level of reality
Frankenheimer's background as a race-car driver was crucial for his staging of the spectacular high-speed pursuits. Awareness of the vehicle's handling characteristicks enabled him and car stunt coordinator Jean-Claude Lagniez to devise car chases unlike any seen before. As Frankenheimer said:"We're really going to raise the bar . So the next time somebody wants to do one of this things,they are going to think twice about it"(Star Interviews).
Lagniez,an accomplished race car driver himself,supervised approximately 150 stunt drivers for various sequences in Ronin. They drove at speeds up to 120 miles per hour,and 80 cars were intentionally wrecked diring the course of the production.
During the filming of Ronin,Frankenheimer found himself relying on techniques he had refined over 30 years earlier for the magnificent racing sequences in Grand Prix(1966). The camera mounts and positions were almost identical to the ones he had used in the earlier film
To further boost the reality and suspense of the chases,Frankenheimer placed the actors inside the cars for several high-speed shots. "I wasn't prepared for how frightening it would be",Jonathan Pryce recalled. "I told John Frankenheimer after we shot the first of this, "I've done Shakespeare,I've done Chekhov and now I've done Fear!" There was no acting required on my part,believe me. .. "
One spectacular pursuit takes place inside a Paris tunnel that is remarkably similar to the location where England\'s Princess Diana was killed in a 1997 automobile accident. The filming took place in a different tunnel,however. "Paris has lots of tunnels, "Frankenheimer said. "That's part of the thing about the city I wanted people to see. A crash in a tunnel in Paris is about like someone having a crash on a freeway here. It happenes all the time "(Rocky Mountain News,9/27/98).
MAKING IT REAL
Frankenheimer spent 23 days filming action sequences after the conclusion of principal photography. Although such scenes are commonly shot by a second unit director,Frankenheimer insisted on directing them himself to ensure that they would match the realistic visual style he had created in the rest on the film.
Ronin was filmed in a stark and minimalistic style,contrasting with the slick and polished sheen of most Hollywood action movies. Half of the shots were done with a Steadicam hand-held camera,giving Ronin a realistic documentary look.
Frankenheimer instructed costume designer May Routh to design clothing that was anonymous and functional,devoid of colors and flourishes that would clash with the film's gritty visual scheme.
Ronin's sense of realism extended to the scenes of war in the Paris streets,for which cast members were trained in the methods and practices of actual guerrilla warfare units. Technical advisor Mick Gould,a real-life battle instructor,taught the cast how to realistically handle and fire the weaponry seen in the film.
ON LOCATION IN FRANCE
Frankenhemier was quite comfortable shooting Ronin in France. Not only is he fluent in the language,but he had actually lived in the country for seven years. He had also shot several films there,including The Train(1963),Grand Prix(1966),The Impossible Object(1973)and French Connection 2(1975).
The film's first spectacular car chase was filmed in the narrow streets of Old Nice,which was closed off from all activity for the duration of filming. Nearby locations also included the luxurious Hotel Majestic in Cannes,the ancient village of La Turbie,and the town of Villefranche.
In Paris,Frankenheimer utilized several well-known locations for many of Ronin's memorable scenes. He filmed at the Pont Alexandre 3 bridge,the Pere Lachaise cemetry and along the upscale Duquesne,Segur and Breteucil avenues. The spectacular car stunts were staged on the Pont de Garigliano bridge,La Defence,and in the Champerret Tunnel.
The climatic was filmed in Paris' Zenith arena,where nearly 2,000 extras were used in the chaotic sequence.
SHORT STORY OF MOVIE
In a world where loyalties are easily abandoned and allegiances can be bought,a new and deadlier terrorist threat has emerget-free agents killers!Featuring "high-octane action "(Gene Shalit, "Today"),a "first-rate cast"(L. A. Daily News) and exhilarating car chases that "are nothing short of sensational"(The New York Times),Ronin is "the real deal in action fireworks"(Rolling Stone) directed by "a master of intelligent thrillers"(Roger Ebert).
The Cold War may be over,but a new world order keeps a group of covert mercenaries employed by the highest bidder. These operatives,known as "Ronin",are assembled in France by a mysterious client for a seemingly routine mission:steal a top-secret briefcase. But the simple task soon proves explosive as other underworld organizations vie for the same price. .. and to get the job done,the members of Ronin must do something they've never done before-trust each other!
With pleasure,Platon Murenin.
By Platon Murenin