Pulp Fiction (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

November 30, 2022 11 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino was “just a guy”, but with his first movie, Reservoir Dogs, he entered the world of Hollywood and it will never be the same. Say what you will about the movie and Tarantino, he influenced the independent movie community with his films and really took it to a new level. While Pulp Fiction is considered his breakout success, it was both commercially successful and critically successful as well, he’s shown that he can continue to produce fresh new movies that rely on the dialogue of all things to drive the story along. Not only did this movie revitalize John Travolta’s career…again, but it introduced us to actors who had been lingering in the background for some time, but we had never really noticed. The film’s loose structure allows the viewers to get sucked into Tarantino’s world of drugs, crime and murder. Though often copied in style and dialogue, this is the one that truly started it all.

The non-linear plot is a very unique approach to the trio of stories that compose the body of the film. On one hand we have Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) who open the film while contemplating robbing a coffee shop. Little do we know (upon a first viewing) that the coffee shop is inhabited by Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson) who make up one third of the story. Vincent and Jules are hired hit men who work for the evil Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). On this particular day, however, the two are discussing a miracle that they supposedly witnessed and it makes a man, even a hit man, stop and think. This brings us to the second part of the story in which we meet Butch (Bruce Willis), a down on his luck fighter who is nearing the end of his career. He has made an arrangement with Marsellus to throw the fight and to take a fall. Instead, he kills the other fighter (in the ring) and having placed several bets on himself around the city, plans to make out a winner and say goodbye to his former life. Vincent has also agreed to take out Marsellus’ wife, Mia (Uma Thurman) for a good time. Mia, accidentally finds his heroin stash and, mistakenly, overdoses.

All of these plots loosely interact, but stand very well on their own. Intermittently we are greeted by cameos from seasoned actors like Harvey Keitel and Christopher Walken (delivering a most poignant speech about a certain gold watch that composes one of the film’s five vignettes). By the day’s end, some of the cast members have their lives changed forever. Some end up dead. Perhaps the most talked about scene involves Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames and a certain “gimp”. For those first time viewers of the film, I’ll try and not ruin it; but even ten years ago the scene was quite a shock to audiences. A “Love It” or “Hate It” attitude will most likely prevail, but this is the version to watch. A truly original film, Pulp Fiction set the precedent in regards to originality.

Video: How does it look?

Quentin Tarantino’s first two films: Reservoir Dogs and now Pulp Fiction, have both benefitted from 4K releases. I had high hopes for this one, having just recently reviewed Reservoir Dogs and was blown away by the image. I’ll get this out of the way first – I did prefer the picture on Reservoir Dogs to this one, but that’s not to say that this one is bad – far from it, actually. This isn’t a night and day difference from the previously-released Blu-ray. In fact, most 4K movies aren’t. Rather, the 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image takes what was good and adds to it. Colors are more vibrant, detail has been increased and with the aid of HDR, many of the scenes have far better contrast. Given that this film was a higher profile movie than its predecessor, I’ve always found it an attractive-looking movie. The bottom line – was it worth the wait? I think it was and what we’ve got is the best this film has ever looked on any home video format.

Audio: How does it sound?

Though this might have been ripe for a new Dolby Atmos mix, Paramount has taken the same DTS HD Master Audio from the Blu-ray. Dialogue, which is a staple of Tarantino’s films, sounds crisp and rich. Trust me, there’s no better way to hear Jules’ “preaching” than in pure, uncompressed sound. The surrounds also came into play much more than I expected. Little things like a motorcycle starting up or a crowd of people talking (when Butch hits Marcellus with his car). If those opening credits don’t get your heart rate into triple digits, I’m guessing nothing will.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sadly, nothing new has been created for this 4K release, but that’s OK. We’ve got plenty of supplemental content, though most of it resides on the Blu-ray.

Disc One (4K)

  • Not the Usual Mindless Boring Getting to Know You Chit Chat – A roundtable discussion with director Tarantino and the cast reminiscing about the film, it’s cultural impact and what’s been going on since then.
  • Here are Some Facts on the Fiction – We’re joined by five film critics that no one has heard of. Still, there’s actually one of them who’s not a fan of the film and it’s a nice change of pace instead of another Tarantino praise-fest.
  • Enhanced Trivia Track – Less annoying than a “pop up track”, this boasts a wealth of information about all aspects of the film, but without being too intrusive.

Disc Two (Blu-ray)

  • Not the Usual Mindless Boring Getting to Know You Chit Chat – A roundtable discussion with director Tarantino and the cast reminiscing about the film, it’s cultural impact and what’s been going on since then.
  • Here are Some Facts on the Fiction – We’re joined by five film critics that no one has heard of. Still, there’s actually one of them who’s not a fan of the film and it’s a nice change of pace instead of another Tarantino praise-fest.
  • Pulp Fiction: The Facts – Documentary – This is more of a biopic on Tarantino, but it also tells of the origins of the film and how he came to be. Very interesting, though I felt a bit manufactured.
  • Deleted Scenes – Next up are some deleted scenes, five in all, hosted by the man himself. Quentin is very sure of himself, dissing the “Director’s Cuts” that are out there and telling us, quite frankly, that he made the movie he wanted to make the first time.
  • Behind the Scenes Montages – Split into two sections: “Jack Rabbit Slims” and “Butch Hits Marsellus.”
  • Production Design Featurette – David Wasco, Production Designer, and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, Set Decorator give us their insight on the design of the film.
  • Siskel & Ebert At the Movies: The Tarantino Generation – This segment focuses on the film at hand, obviously garnering praise from the two critics.
  • Independent Spirit Awards – Michael Moore (yes, that one) interviews Tarantino at the ISA.
  • Cannes Film Festival – Palme D’Or Acceptance Speech – Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Charlie Rose Show – A rather long (almost an hour) look at Tarantino’s life. His origin into film, his vast knowledge and everything else relating to the film are all covered here. A bit long, but well worth it.
  • Marketing Gallery – A barrage of trailers and TV spots.
  • Still Gallery – Again, pretty self-explanatory.
  • Enhanced Trivia Track – Less annoying than a “pop up track”, this boasts a wealth of information about all aspects of the film, but without being too intrusive.

The Bottom Line

Pulp Fiction took the world by storm back in 1994 and in any other year, would have most likely walked away with the Academy Award for Best Picture. But this was the year of Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption. Nevertheless, Tarantino made his mark on pop culture with this one and he’s not looked back. Paramount’s 4K disc offers a noticable uptick in picture quality while retaining all of the supplements from the previously-released Blu-ray. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be on any movie-lover’s shelf.

Disc Scores

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