China Moon

1994, 99 min. Directed by John Bailey. Starring Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe, Benicio Del Toro, Charles Dance.

REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., March 11, 1994

Why is this film being touted as “the Body Heat of the Nineties?” True, there are some parallels between the 1981 steamy thriller starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner and this recent release: against the backdrop of tropical Florida, beautiful, filthy-rich wife (Stowe) wants equally filthy-rich husband (Dance) bumped off by her blinded-by-lust boyfriend (Harris) so that she can inherit a fortune. But rather than trying to improve upon these generic similarities, director Bailey (in his directorial debut) serves up a pale imitation of its predecessor. Blame it on a narrative that is chock-full of holes due to heavy-handed hacksaw editing techniques. The results are glaring lacks of character motivation and credibility. It's hard to believe that Harris's tough, stoic cop character would trash his stellar career for Stowe's (who comes across as more of a teary-eyed, fragile magnolia blossom than a scheming, hard-core femme fatale) when there is little in the way of torrid eroticism between the two to convince us otherwise. As for Dance's character, he's only fleshed out to two-dimensionality as a bastard-of-a-husband with a hammy southern accent. Thus, it's difficult to believe that Stowe's character would have married him in the first place, put up with his tyrannical abuses -- despite his enormous wealth -- and stick around long enough to plot his demise when she could have easily been in and out of divorce court with a hefty settlement in no time at all. The bottom line is, this film can't beat Body Heat because it can't even break a sweat.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

China Moon, John Bailey, Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe, Benicio Del Toro, Charles Dance

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