DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Music & Musicals at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Tony Scott
Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman
Writing Credits:
Quentin Tarantino

A lonely pop culture geek marries a call girl, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood, all while the owners of the cocaine attempt to reclaim it.

Box Office:
$12.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$4,023,420 on 1254 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R/NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min. (Theatrical)
120 min. (Director’s Cut)
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 6/28/2022

• Audio Commentary With Actors Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette
• Audio Commentary With Director Tony Scott
• Audio Commentary With Writer Quentin Tarantino
• Audio Commentary With Film Critic Tim Lucas
• Deleted/Extended Scenes With Optional Commentary
• Alternate Ending With Optional Commentaries
• Select Scene Commentaries With Actors Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Michael Rapaport, Bronson Pinchot and Saul Rubinek
• “You’re So Cool” Featurette
• “Relentless Romance” Featurette
• “Amid the Chaos of the Day” Featurette
• “A Hunger for Mayhem” Featurette
• “Electronic Press Kit” Featurette
• Image Galleries
• Trailers & TV Spots


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


True Romance (Limited Edition) [Blu-Ray] (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 17, 2022)

Usually Quentin Tarantino directs the films he writes, but a few exceptions exist. Robert Rodriguez helmed 1996’s From Dusk Till Dawn and did a reasonably competent job with that cartoony vampire flick. Though the flick seems flawed, I doubt Tarantino would have made the movie any better on his own.

On the other hand, 1993’s True Romance and 1994’s Natural Born Killers clearly suffer from Tarantino’s absence behind the camera. Click on the link above to see my feelings about the messy Killers, but as for Romance, it featured Tony Scott as director, and he seemed like a total mismatch for Tarantino’s style.

Scott was best known as the man behind action flicks like Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II. On the surface, the glossy and superficial Scott appeared to be the wrong man for the job.

Dig beneath the surface and you’ll still discover that the producers should have hired someone other than Scott to direct True Romance. He brings a sense of showy violence and visual sheen to the material that seems badly wrong for the material, and he fails to exploit it well.

Romance concentrates on the love affair between Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette). Nerdy Clarence lives an isolated life, but that starts to change when he meets sexy Alabama at a martial arts triple feature on his birthday.

The two quickly connect, and Clarence seems unfazed when Alabama admits she’s a “call girl” hired by his boss to enliven his birthday. The two immediately marry, and after he sees encouraging visions of Elvis (Val Kilmer), Clarence decides to set things straight with her old pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman).

Ultimately he kills Drexl and escapes with a case full of uncut cocaine that thought included Alabama’s things. Clarence figures this is his lucky day, and he decides the couple should head out west to hook up with his boyhood friend Dick Ritchie (Michael Rapaport).

Aspiring actor Dick knows Elliott (Bronson Pinchot), the assistant to a big-shot producer named Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek), and Clarence plans to unload the drugs on him. After a quick visit with his estranged ex-policeman father (Dennis Hopper) to make sure the authorities aren’t on their trail, Clarence and Alabama go west.

Unfortunately, the cocaine brings a trail with it. It turns out that the drugs really belonged to crime kingpin Blue Lou Boyle, and his counsel Vincent Coccotti (Christopher Walken) comes after Clarence. He starts with Clarence’s father and then follows the trail to LA, where his goons try to track down the elusive couple. Romance was the first full script Tarantino ever wrote, and it shows. Obviously autobiographical, Clarence seems to act as a fantasy stand-in for Quentin, and this causes some character problems.

Frankly, it seems almost impossible to fathom that Clarence goes from this nerdy loser to a world-class action hero with a blonde babe on his arm, and also this happens literally overnight. Granted, I understand the movie takes on some fantasy elements, and it always seems possible the whole thing exists only in Clarence’s head - he does see visions of Elvis (Val Kilmer), who goads him into action - but taken on a semi-literal level, these leaps seem too large.

It doesn’t help that Slater appears miscast as Clarence. Too attractive and self-confident for the geeky side of the role, and too quirky and self-conscious for the action hero elements, Slater just comes across as lost throughout the film.

Not a lot of actors can handle Tarantino’s dialogue and not sound silly, and George Clooney ran into that problem during Dusk as well. Slater fails to take hold of Clarence, and his tentative nature actively harms the film as a whole.

Otherwise, however, I find it difficult to fault the cast in any way, as Romance boasts an absolutely staggering group of actors. Just look at the credits: Oldman, Hopper, Walken, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Rapaport, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Samuel L. Jackson, and more!

How any flick with such a stellar cast can fall so flat seems unthinkable to me. Surprisingly, the most interesting the bunch has to be Pitt’s small but hilarious turn as Dick’s stoner roommate Floyd. I think Pitt’s a character actor in a leading man’s body, and his memorable work here helps confirm that belief.

How could a movie with that group flop? Because of the directing, and as I already mentioned, Scott seems totally inappropriate for Romance.

When he helms slick action pieces, Scott does good work. He functions best within the expensive Bruckheimer world, and I enjoy flicks such as Crimson Tide.

Unfortunately, Scott tries to bring the same tone and vision to Romance, and it simply doesn’t work. The story needs someone loose and fast on his feet, not a guy who excels at slow-motion carnage and flashy action set pieces.

Though it may come across otherwise, I don’t really mean this as a knock on Scott. When he remained within his realm, he provided some fairly good films. Romance finds him out of his element, however, and he can’t adjust to meet the needs of the story.

In the end, Romance feels like an odd piece. The script seems unusually thin and sketchy for something from Quentin Tarantino, but since it was his first finished work,that makes sense, as he clearly hadn’t quite found his voice just yet.

Had Tarantino taken on the project himself and made it as a low-budget indie production, it could have worked, but unfortunately, it went the other way and became a glossy piece of Hollywood fluff. Romance enjoys a few decent moments, but overall it falls short of its goals.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus A

True Romance appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a mildly erratic but largely representative presentation.

Sharpness generally appeared solid. A few wide shots demonstrated some mild softness, but those examples occurred infrequently. Instead, most of the movie came across as reasonably distinct and crisp.

Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I noticed no problems related to edge haloes. Grain felt pretty natural, and I saw no print flaws.

Colors tended toward a somewhat subdued feel, though occasional shots brought broader tones. These didn’t excel but the image appeared to represent them as needed.

Black levels came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail was clean and appropriately opaque. Though not a showcase, the Blu-ray seemed to reproduce the source well.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of True Romance, it featured a general bias toward the front channels. Music showed fairly good stereo spread and imaging, and the track also demonstrated reasonably positive ambience.

However, the audio didn’t seem to blend together especially well. Material sounded somewhat speaker-specific and transitioned a bit awkwardly between the channels. Dialogue occasionally bled to the sides as well.

The rears added reinforcement of the front domain, especially in terms of music, as score and songs blended to the back. Effects offered some impact as well, though not to the same degree. The soundscape opened up matters in a moderate manner.

Audio quality appeared fine, if a little inconsistent. Speech remained intelligible throughout the film, but lines sounded somewhat stiff and metallic at times.

The songs and score came across as fairly crisp and distinct, and they demonstrated pretty good low-end. Effects appeared fairly clean, with only occasional instances of distortion.

Low-end worked fine, as bass showed reasonable punch. This never became a great track, but it generally satisfied.

How did the 2022 Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2002? The lossless audio seemed a bit better defined and better located, even with its moderate flaws.

The same went for visuals, as the Blu-ray brought superior delineation, colors and accuracy. While not a great looking/sounding film, the Blu-ray definitely topped the DVD.

Note that Warner issued Romance on Blu-ray back in 2009. Unfortunately, I never saw that release so I can’t compare it to the 2022 Arrow version.

The 2022 Blu-ray includes both the movie’s “R”-rated Theatrical Version (1:58:14) as well as an unrated Director’s Cut (2:00:36). As far as I can tell, this disc marks the theatrical edition’s Blu-ray debut, as it appears prior BDs only included the Director’s Cut.

How do the two differ? For the most part, the DC simply extends existing scenes and makes them more graphic/violent. A few other small alterations occur, but none of these change the film in a substantial manner.

The 2022 Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and we get a whopping four separate audio commentaries. The first comes from actors Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific track.

As I’ve noted in the past, actor commentaries always sound like fun, but they rarely live up to their billing. I can’t say I expected much from Slater and Arquette, but this dull and inane commentary doesn’t even live up to my modest hopes for it.

For one, great heaping slabs of space pass with no material. The pair remain silent much of the time, and when they bother to speak, they rarely offer any useful details.

Periodically - apparently simply through the law of averages - they give us something insightful or informative, but those occasions occur frightfully infrequently. More often, they just tell us how great everyone was or make “that was cool” remarks about the onscreen action.

Actually, to be fair, Arquette periodically tries to delve into some filmmaking elements. This doesn’t occur frequently, but I’ll give her credit because she occasionally makes the attempt.

Slater, on the other hand, brings virtually nothing of substance to say, and I don’t even think he understood the purpose of the sessions. Not even diehard Romance fans will find much to enjoy in this lamentable dud of a commentary.

Next we move to a track from director Tony Scott, who provides a running, screen-specific look at the film. After the misery that was the actors’ commentary, Scott’s piece offers a welcome relief.

The director proves chatty and informative during this track. He covers a lot of relevant topics and does so with reasonable charm and efficiency.

I also find Scott to appear surprisingly frank, as he discusses elements such as James Gandolfini’s intense method acting and Michael Rapaport’s attempts to calm himself prior to a rollercoaster ride, so this isn’t the standard fluff.

Scott jumps neatly from production elements such as sets and locations to story and character insight. The track suffers from a few more empty spots than I’d like, and Scott occasionally just narrates the film, but overall, this piece seems useful.

After this we find a commentary from writer Quentin Tarantino, who also offers a running track. I don’t want to call it “screen-specific”, however, for while Tarantino obviously watched the film as he spoke, he doesn’t frequently remark upon the action, at least not during the movie’s first half.

Instead, the ever-chatty Quentin offers a fascinating look into his early career that tells us the genesis of Romance and how he got going in the industry. Frank as always, Tarantino also openly discusses the story’s many autobiographical elements, and he tells us the ways his original concept and script differ from the final product. For example, he conceived that the flick would be non-linear ala his own movies.

Tarantino goes off-task somewhat about a third of the way through the movie, so once we hit the scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, Quentin clams up for a short period and seems to lose his momentum. He picks it up again fairly quickly, though, and he maintains this energy until the movie’s climax.

At that time, Tarantino declares that he’s essentially covered everything he wanted to discuss and warns us that he won’t say much the rest of the way. Indeed, although he speaks more than expected, Tarantino does remain silent for some extended gaps.

Despite those concerns, I thoroughly enjoyed this commentary, though it made me feel even more frustrated that Tarantino won’t provide similar tracks for the films he directs himself. He’s one of the most lively, engaging and insightful speakers in the business.

Finally, we get a new circa 2022 commentary from film critic Tim Lucas. He brings a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, interpretation and allusions, general production notes and his opinions of the film.

At his best, Lucas gives us some good insights related to the movie, and he makes this a fairly engaging track. I think he comes across as a little condescending at times, but despite those moments, this turns into a fairly useful discussion.

In addition to these full-length tracks, we find six Select Scene Commentaries. We get information from Dennis Hopper (11:16), Val Kilmer (4:06), Brad Pitt (5:47), Michael Rapaport (34:38). Bronson Pinchot (15:55) and Saul Rubinek (6:50). Note that the first four recorded their remarks in 202, whereas Pinchot and Rubinek taped theirs in 2021.

Hopper’s chat seems the least interesting. He speaks sporadically and doesn’t offer anything very informative. Kilmer’s comes across a little esoteric, as he provides random musings about Elvis and Tony Scott, but he gives us a reasonably compelling little piece.

The veteran of many audio commentaries, Pitt packs a lot of punch into his short track. He seems lively and informative as he discusses how he came onto the film and also what he tried to do with the role.

Easily the longest of the pieces, Rapaport also comes across as loose and witty. Some gaps appear, and he occasionally just mentions the onscreen action, but Rapaport tosses in lots of irreverent details.

For example, he tells us which rollercoaster shots came on the first day - when he felt scared to death - and which occurred on the second day. To get him to do the latter, the crew needed to dope him up with tranquilizers.

Of the two 2021 tracks, Pinchot’s does best, as he follows Rapaport’s vibe and brings us a fun, lively look at his experiences. Rubinek also offers a few good notes, though he doesn’t seem as amusing as Pinchot. With the exception of Hopper’s dull chat, these “select scene” commentaries seem entertaining and useful.

Under “New Interviews”, we find four segments. You’re So Cool goes for nine minutes, 57 seconds and involves notes from costume designer Susan Becker.

As expected, Becker looks at her work on the film. We get some good insights about the wardrobe choices.

Relentless Romance spans 11 minutes, 13 seconds and gives us info from co-editor Michael Tronick. He looks at editing decisions made for the movie and brings us a mix of informative notes.

Next comes Amid the Chaos of the Day, an 11-minute, 36-second program with co-composers Mark Mancina and John Van Tongeren. Unsurprisingly, we learn about the movie’s score in this interesting reel.

Lastly, A Hunger for Mayhem fills six minutes, 44 seconds with statements from biographer Larry Scott. He looks at Tony Scott’s career and some aspects of Romance in this short but moderately engaging piece.

Viewable with or without commentary from director Tony Scott, 11 Deleted and Extended Scenes occupy a total of 29 minutes, 15 seconds. Most of these consist of extended versions of existing scenes, though a few completely new bits appear, such as a short bathroom sojourn between Clarence and Alabama.

None of them seem terribly compelling. Scott’s commentary tells us why he cut the clips and he tosses in some additional notes about the shoot as well. His remarks manifest sporadically, but they illuminate the subject reasonably well.

The disc also includes an Alternate Ending. A mix of film footage and a couple of storyboards, this piece shows the finale as originally envisioned by Tarantino, and it runs six minutes, 23 seconds.

The climactic fight in the hotel plays out pretty much the same as in the movie, but the ultimate ending differs. I don’t know if it’s better or worse than the finale seen in the film, but it’s interesting to see.

You can watch the “Alternate Ending” with or without two different commentaries. The scene includes separate pieces from Tony Scott and Quentin Tarantino.

However, if you already listened to the full-length commentaries from Scott and Tarantino, you’ve heard everything they have to say here. It’s nice to have the information about the alternate ending included along with the clip itself, but the men add nothing new.

Under Electronic Press Kit, a mix of materials appear. “US Featurette 1” (5:35) and US Featurette 2 (5:38) bring soundbites from Tony Scott, Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, and Christopher Walken. Not surprisingly, these offer a superficial look at the film, though some shots from the set add value.

International Featurette goes for seven minutes, 46 seconds and involves Tony Scott, Arquette, Slater, Rapaport and Hopper. It offers a piece similar to the two US reels and becomes another fluffy promo program.

Next we find “Behind the Scenes”, a 15-minute, 17-second compilation of shots from the set. No commentary appears, as we get raw footage. I like this sort of material and think this becomes a nice glimpse of the production.

“EPK” finishes with five interviews recorded during the production. We hear from Tony Scott (4:17), Christian Slater (1:50), Patricia Arquette (1:58), Dennis Hopper (1:46) and Gary Oldman (2:58).

These come from the same sessions we saw in promo featurettes, and plenty of the same clips emerge. The comments don’t tend to offer a lot of substance.

In addition to two trailers and two TV spots, the disc concludes with two Image Galleries - in theory. We find “Production Stills” (72 frames) and “Poster & Video Art” (17). Both offer some good elements.

While I like the films Quentin Tarantino directs, when another person takes on his material, the results seem less interesting. From Tony Scott, True Romance comes across as too flashy and glossy to succeed. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio along with a long roster of bonus materials. Although the movie doesn’t work for me, this becomes an excellent release.

To rate this film, visit the original review of TRUE ROMANCE