True Romance

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 3 - Dolby Greek, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown
Year Released 1993 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 116:04 minutes  Other Extras Featurette 
Menu Audio 
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Tony Scott

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Christian Slater
Patricia Arquette
Dennis Hopper
Val Kilmer
Gary Oldman
Brad Pitt
Christopher Walken
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Hans Zimmer

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 384 Kb/s) 
English (MPEG 2.0 silent, 64 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) is somewhat of a loser, working in a comic shop and reduced to spending his birthday watching kung-fu movies at a local theatre. But he has a kindly boss who decides to hire a call girl to show him a good time. So four-day call girl, Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) rolls up to the local theatre, and introduces herself by throwing popcorn all over Clarence. Since the purpose of a call girl is obvious, they eventually end up at Clarence's place for a very pleasurable night - except that Alabama falls in love with Clarence and they promptly marry a short time later. However, there is the little matter of Alabama's pimp Drexl Spivey (Gary Oldman) and Clarence determines to make sure he knows that Alabama is now out of circulation, whilst collecting her stuff. One thing leads to another and Drexl's days pimping are slightly shortened, whilst Clarence thinks he gets Alabama's gear. Only it turns out to be $500,000 of cocaine. Naturally the owners of the merchandise want it back, and Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) does the deed by tracking down Clarence from the driver's licence he left at the scene of the crime. A meeting with Clarence's father Clifford (Dennis Hopper) has some rather unfortunate consequences for Clifford. Things go from bad to worse from there towards the inevitable climatic gun battle which seems to be the trademark of any film with which Quentin Tarantino is associated - he wrote the story for this one.

    The immediate reaction to this film is how short the stints of each character seem to be - do not blink or you will miss Samuel L Jackson's role in this one. Gather together a great bunch of actors then give them characters that expire in five minutes or less seemed to be the philosophy here! As usual for a Quentin Tarantino penned effort, never let a good story get in the way of a totally over the top gun battle, so Tarantino fans should be happy with this one, but it leaves me a little cold. Christian Slater is mildly engaging as the good guy, although credulity is stretched a little with the character going from loser to gun-toting, fast talking drug dealer in about five minutes flat. Patricia Arquette is suitably cast as the slightly offbeat ex-call girl love interest (and she does not let the family name down at all). But the real highlights here are the shorter roles: Gary Oldman is brilliant as the white pimp who thinks he is black, whilst Dennis Hopper has real command of the father tormenting the Sicilian hitman Coccotti. Brad Pitt does a nice little turn as the drug addicted Floyd whilst Christopher Walken is typically well cast as the obligatory bad guy. Tony Scott of Top Gun fame stirs the mix here and a not especially brilliant job is done in my view. Still there will plenty that disagree with me on that point. Overall, I found this to lack a little credulity and it took a while for it to hit its stride, but the obligatory gun battle is suitably comical in a black kind of way.

Transfer Quality


    Well if you like bright, clear colours in your transfers, you are going to have a problem with this effort. Indeed, I will admit to being somewhat ambivalent to the style of transfer here, which I found to be a little tiring to watch too.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is not especially sharp and seemed to lack a little in definition, particularly lacking any real depth to the picture. To be fair however, it seemed that this may be a reflection of how the film was shot, although the transfer rate was fairly steadily in the lower-middle range. Whilst I would not describe the transfer as grainy, it is not as clear as I would have expected of a relatively recent film. Detail was quite good though and there are no real complaints as far as that goes: it simply does not however rival the better transfers around in this regard. There did not appear to be any significant problems with low level noise, although the style of transfer would certainly mask such a problem fairly well.

    You certainly will not find a feast of bright, vibrant colours here. The opening part of the film is shot in Detroit and the transfer style is very gray/brown, almost monochrome at times with a lot of muted colours in the external shots. Internal shots have a little more vibrancy to them but nothing really flashy at all. As the action moves to California, the colours become a little brighter but still not overly vibrant. Overall, this really is a quite restrained looking transfer as far as colours go.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, whilst film-to-video artefacts comprised some minor aliasing. Film artefacts were quite prevalent during the film but nothing too noticeable nor too intrusive.


    Rather unusually for a release of this comparative youth, we have only a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack on offer here, although it is a decent one.

    There are two audio tracks on the DVD, the default English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track and a silent English MPEG track. Obviously, I listened to the default track.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.

    Somewhat unusually apparently for a Pioneer DVD player/Roadshow DVD combination, there did not seem to be any significant audio sync problems. There was the odd example of some poorish ADR work on show though.

    The music score comes from Hans Zimmer, and somewhat quirky effort it is too. There is a gorgeous percussion theme that runs throughout the film which is quite effective, but there are also some well known classical pieces used too. Overall, the score is a little dissonant to the on-screen action at times, but this seems to suit the film well.

    Whilst this is a surround encoded soundtrack, there was not too much use made of the rear surround channels at all. The soundscape is clearly forward balanced and it is quite an effective and engrossing one, although the action sequences cry out for a little more emphasis than the 2.0 soundtrack can give. There is no use of the bass channel at all.


    We have a reasonable collection of extras to round out the package, albeit not too inspiring (although since this is not an RSDL disc, space must have been getting limited on the disc). We have a new Dolby (no Digital wording on it) trailer representing some classical Greek temple ruins, so I will designate it Greek (really original).


    The menus are not especially well themed to the film, but they do have audio enhancement throughout which is most satisfying. The menus are also 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    In addition to the trailer for True Romance, we also get the trailers for Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown as recommendations for more Tarantino films. Not of especially brilliant quality either, although all are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.


    An 8 minute extended promotional featurette with interviews mainly. Not especially illuminating and not something that I would return to too often. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.



    Am I the only person who finds this stuff of limited appeal?

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:     Region 4 winner here folks, unless you have to have a pan and scan version of the film.


    Personally, this is not a film that I can rave about although it is quite entertaining. The enjoyment is not helped by a video transfer that I had difficulty coming to terms with.

    The overall video quality is better than average, but nothing more.

    The overall audio quality is respectable.

    A decently reasonable package of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
27th November 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL