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True Romance is a film I have very fond memories of. I first saw it back in 1994, around the same time Pulp Fiction was released. Having already seen both that film and Reservoir Dogs I had high hopes for this Tarantino-penned movie. I needn't have worried, as I took to this film even quicker than the others. True Romance is a great story with some fine performances from its star-studded cast.

True Romance
Christian Slater plays Clarence Worley, a young man who leads an unremarkable life working in a comic book store. Clarence is a big Elvis fan with a penchant for kung-fu movies, and it's on one birthday trip to see a Sonny Chiba triple bill that Clarence meets Alabama Whitman, a call girl with a heart of gold. Clarence and Alabama fall madly in love and all seems well. Unfortunately Clarence isn't the most stable guy in the world and he decides to pay Alabama's old pimp, Drexel Spivey, a little visit. Well, one thing leads to another and Clarence finds himself with a couple of dead bodies and a suitcase full of cocaine on his hands.

The story then sees the couple fleeing to LA to try and set up a coke deal, all the while pursued by ruthless mob hit men (including Christopher Walken in a fantastic cameo). The film's climactic set piece is a Mexican standoff to end all, with some very unexpected results. This director’s cut of the film is slightly longer than the theatrical edition, reintegrating some of the more violent scenes that were chopped at the request of the censors, as well as significantly altering the ending of the movie.

Christian Slater is amazing as Clarence; it's by far his best performance (in my limited experience of Slater). He reminds me of a young Jack Nicholson at times, which is no small compliment. Slater hits the nail right on the head with his portrayal of a character who is on one hand a very normal, working class guy, but on the other a bit of a raving nutter. Alabama is played by Patricia Arquette who, it has to be said, is utterly gorgeous. She manages to bring a real sincerity to the role, along with a certain vulnerability that is utterly endearing.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film features Chris Walken and Dennis Hopper (who plays Clarence's dad). Walken is perfectly cast as the menacing “Don Vincenzo”, and for once Hopper gets to play something other than a psycho. The dialogue between these two is snappy and super cool, as with the rest of the film, and there is more than a slight hint of Tarantino’s involvement.

As well as the aforementioned actors, True Romance features cameo performances from Brad Pitt, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman and Val Kilmer (as Elvis!), as well as turns from Chris Penn, Tom Seizemore and Bronsen Pinchow. Gary Oldman’s performance as one of the standout characters is up to his usual level of brilliance.

True Romance
Unlike other regions, the video quality of this R2 release is nothing short of excellent. Colours are extremely vibrant, which perfectly showcases some of the outrageous clothing worn by the trailer trash lovers, as well as Clarence’s purple Cadillac (nice). Blacks are also solid, as is usual for DVD, and the image is generally very sharp and detailed. All of this visual splendour is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1, anamorphically enhanced for your viewing pleasure.

True Romance created quite a stir upon its release because of a supposed flaw in its Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The more observant among you will notice that the left and right audio channels are reversed! This isn’t particularly noticeable with regular stereo television speakers, but it does become so if you’re listening on a dedicated 5.1 set-up. Even with this flaw, the soundtrack is still very good. In fact, there are only a couple of major instances when you can tell that the channels are reversed, and you have to listen hard for them. Dialogue is clear throughout, and you’re never left struggling to hear the actors above the rest of the soundtrack. There is some nice use of the surround and LFE channels during the shootout and the roller coaster scenes (watch the film), and the fantastic music is provided by a variety of artists both new and old. All in all this is a great soundtrack, which is not significantly marred by the slight audio flaw. In any case the disc’s nearest rival, the R4 release, only has a Dolby surround track…

Supplementary features are non-existent, with not even a trailer or cast and crew bios to pad things out. This is a real shame, and it really annoys me when studios (and Warner are as guilty as any) release discs without any extra features and then expect people to pay a premium for them. Things may not so bad in the case of True Romance, as the film is now available as a budget title, but it still applied when I bought the film so I’m going to have a moan anyway!

True Romance
This is currently the best version of True Romance available anywhere. The added footage really is a bonus, and will significantly alter your perception of one of the main characters. Some excellent performances from an eclectic and very talented cast, combined with outstanding video quality and a great audio track, ensure True Romance is a disc worthy of a place in anyone’s collection. Recommended.