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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

China Moon [Blu-ray]


(John Bailey, 1994)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Tig Productions

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:39:44.728

Disc Size: 22,433,420,636 bytes

Feature Size: 20,146,790,400 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.64 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 12th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1556 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1556 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps






• Audio commentary by director John Bailey and co-editor Carol Littleton
Original Theatrical Trailer (1:26)





Description: In a small Florida town, a tantalizing tale of mystery, passion and fatal obsession unfolds under the sultry spell of a full moon. Ed Harris (The Right Stuff) and Madeleine Stowe (The Proposition) turn up the heat in this sexy, stylish neo-noir thriller. Together with co-stars Benicio Del Toro (Traffic) and Charles Dance (The Imitation Game), Harris and Stowe deliver searing performances in this deliciously dark web of love, lust and lies that keeps you guessing until the final mesmerizing frame. Homicide detective Kyle Bodine (Harris) is the best in the business. But even a cop as brilliant as Kyle can become confused in the embrace of a seductive woman. What starts as a casual flirtation with local beauty Rachel Munro (Stowe) escalates into a desire that cannot be denied. And when Rachel's need to escape her unhappy marriage to an abusive banker ends in murder, Kyle becomes trapped in a bewildering nightmare of deceit and deadly betrayal.


Honest homicide detective Kyle Bodine (Ed Harris) wanders into a Tampa, Fla., bar one night and meets gorgeous Rachel Munro (Madeleine Stowe), who is married to abusive bank president Rupert (Charles Dance). Bodine begins having an affair with Rachel. During a fight, Rachel accidentally kills Rupert and convinces Bodine to help her dispose of the body. But when Bodine's partner, Lamar Dickey (Benicio Del Toro), investigates the case, all the clues he finds point toward Bodine as the murderer.



The Film:

Bailey works from a brilliantly crafted, often inspired screenplay from Roy Carlson. Especially early on in the picture, the partnership works at a very high level, for example when Bodine and Rachel first meet, and the seductive sparing between them begins a showerstorm of verbal sparks. With "China Moon," Bailey steps up to make his debut as a director after years as a cinematographer working for the likes of Larry Kasdan ("The Big Chill") and Paul Schrader ("Cat People" and "Hardcore"). And it's clear from this impressive debut that Bailey has been keeping his eyes open too.

The connection to Kasdan is significant because the picture "China Moon" most resembles is Kasdan's "Body Heat," the main exception being that this new film is harder and hotter and more sophisticated. At its center, "China Moon" also possesses a more complicated heroine than "Body," where Kathleen Turner just seemed to lift her soap opera training and apply it to big screen melodrama. Stowe, by contrast, is utterly plausible as a woman who has grown tough from the many years of loveless neglect.

Excerpt from TheWashintonPost located HERE

China Moon is a slick noir thriller, nice to look at, well-acted and directed, but ultimately predictable, even to its "surprise" ending. Kyle Bodine (Ed Harris) falls in love with Rachel Munro (Madeleine Stowe), the unhappily married wife of a drunken Southern aristocrat Rupert (Charles Dance). One night, tired of his beatings and abuse, Rachel kills Rupert, apparently in self-defense. Kyle helps her cover-up the crime and establish an alibi. However, Kyle's young partner Lamar (Benecio Del Toro) suspects Rachel of the murder and begins an investigation. In fairly predictable plot twists reminiscent of the far superior Body Heat Kyle finds his life falling apart. While the plot is contrived, the performances are convincing, particularly that of Madeline Stowe as the treacherous Rachel. Ed Harris gives the character of Kyle depth and complexity. Cinematographer-turned-director John Bailey gives the film a great, dark, rain-slicked noir look and feel and lingers on details which take an otherwise predictable mystery/thriller and make it seem like a game of wits.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of China Moon looks decent and consistent in 1080P. It's not an overwhelming image but it is consistent and stable with pleasing layered contrast and some depth visible in the 2.35:1 frame. The source has a few speckles and there are no demonstrative weaknesses. The softness seems natural and film-like and I see no signs of digitization. This Blu-ray gave me a very watchable, and pleasurable, viewing in regards to the picture quality.




























Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1556 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. There are effects in the film - mostly gunfire, but some rain and bar scenes. They sounds quite crisp. The score is by George Fenton (The Crucible, The Fisher King, Planet Earth, Life) and it's a nice mix of jazz and orchestral - as Carol Littleton describes in the commentary - as sounding noir-ish and similar to the work of composer Miklós Rózsa. It suits the film very well with a Blues band in the beginning and sounds excellent in the lossless. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

Kino include an audio commentary by director John Bailey and co-editor Carol Littleton - he details some of the production decisions and she inputs some insightful noir references. Both are interesting and it's very much worth listening to as far as I got into it. There is also an original theatrical trailer and trailers for bunch of other neo-noirs on Kino Blu-ray.



China Moon is a wonderful neo-noir in the vein of Double Indemnity. Another steamy Floridian (Out of Time, Key Largo, The Breaking Point, Wild Things, Night Moves, Body Heat) double-crossing love affair with a large inheritance at stake and a scapegoat required for a necessary murder. I loved everything about it - the forensic investigatory details, the twists, enticing femme, corruptible police - for love or money - I could watch films like this all the time. The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray offers a decent presentation and the commentary should seal the deal. Recommended!  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 33% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

November 21st, 2017



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