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With: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, Michael Rapaport, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Bronson Pinchot, Saul Rubinek, James Gandolfini, Samuel L. Jackson
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Directed by: Tony Scott
MPAA Rating: R/Unrated
Running Time: 121
Date: 09/09/1993

True Romance (1993)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Comic Books and Kung-Fu

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I have long regarded Tony Scott as, to quote Zero Mostel in The Producers, the worst director that ever lived. His credits include Revenge, Beverly Hills Cop II, Top Gun and Days of Thunder. His last film was the much-anticipated second script by hot writer Shane (Lethal Weapon) Black, called The Last Boy Scout, which was universally panned. Now, for the second time, the Hollywood powers that be have given a much-anticipated second script to Scott. The script is by Quentin Tarantino, whose first film, Reservoir Dogs, is one of the best films I have ever seen.

So, True Romance is a film that goes to extremes in showing both greatness and ineptitude. Fortunately, the players, caught in the middle, are of a grand calibre and often save the picture from sinking. Christian Slater gives a solid performance in his best role yet, and Patricia Arquettte, a newcomer to me, is sweet, smart and tough. The creme filling of this movie, however, is its colorful rouge's gallery. Gary Oldman devours his ten minutes on screen as a scary pimp who thinks he's black. Christopher Walken as a mafia don and Dennis Hopper as a washed up security guard have a truly mesmerising scene together. Val Kilmer is all but invisible as Slater's guardian angel, Elvis and Brad Pitt is dead-on as a snoozy-eyed pothead.

Tarantino's script is based on a thousand different movies and his passion for the cinema really shines through. The movie is decorated with kung-fu references everywhere. In one scene, Slater and Arquette watch A Better Tomorrow II (1987), by Tarantino's hero, Hong Kong director, John Woo. Slater goes to see a triple feature of Sonny Chiba movies, and Oldman watches The Mack (1973) on TV, a favorite blaxploitation movie.

To Scott's credit, the script remains pretty much intact, although certain scenes were moved around. Scott has a slick, easy-to-look-at style that he got from making music videos and commercials. The movie is exciting, thanks to the script, but when it comes to the bullet-ridden showdown, Scott shows it in fast cuts, without giving us a perspective of the action or the space. It's ruined. But True Romance keeps going, and it seems to have a spark of life to it.

DVD Details: Warner Home Video's new DVD includes three full-length commentary tracks: one by Scott, one by Tarantino and one by Slater and Arquette together. It also includes selected commentary tracks by Pitt, Hopper, Rapaport and Kilmer, deleted and extended scenes, a (horrible) alternate ending, and more.

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