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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  • 10 Theatrical trailer
  • 13 Cast/crew biographies
  • 3 Photo gallery
  • DVD Text - 5 Character Bios
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Judas Kiss

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . MA15+ . PAL


Judas Kiss is immediately one of those films you feel like you gambled in watching because you’ve never heard anything about it and are wholly surprised by and glad you invested in. Great performances from the wide ranging cast, especially from Carla Gugino (The Spy Kids’ spy mama) in the lead role of Coco Chavez. Australia’s own Simon Baker-Denny plays opposite her in a well-honed criminal role and together they are a very convincing pair.

Tired of fleecing drunk guys with blackmail, Coco devises the idea of kidnapping a leading computer geek, after learning he is so valuable, the company he works for will pay four million bucks to get him back, without question. Seems simple, except in grabbing him, Coco bumps someone off. Having never done so before, naturally she starts a slow mental collapse on the subject and slowly befriends the hapless kidnapee.

"Even school kids know kidnapping’s a fool’s game..."

Enter the cops, in the form of Emma Thompson playing a fiercely strong yet comic role and Alan Rickman as her new partner. They connect well at the start and then go separate ways in the pursuit of the crooks. Thompson follows the ransom to hunt down the thugs while Rickman delves into the life and secrets of the woman Coco killed. It seems she was a senator’s wife and just what she was doing at the geek’s apartment to be killed is a whole other mystery that needs solving.

So, the whole thing spirals into several different tangles, but inevitably unravels cleverly in the end to still drop a shock or two on us.

This is a cleverly devised and well-written script that didn’t get the audience it deserved. All performers are just super in their roles and relishing the change from their usual vehicles by the look of things. It’s an unusual adult cop movie in that there is little blood spatter flying all over and no running gun battles to clog up the screen. What we get, though, are some thoughtful moments and brief explorations of characters without being preachy or trying to wring pity. There are some great one liners and witty banter, particularly between Rickman and Thompson, but some of the discussions between Gugino and Baker-Denny are almost as clever.

Well recommended for people who like a little bit of thought inserted into their crime thrillers and appreciate that not all thugs are gun toting cold hearted mofo’s who just want to blow everyone away.


Made in 1998, this film looks mostly pretty fine on DVD. Presented in the original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced, it fills out the screen well with its seamier back alleys and ghetto street shots. The picture is quite clean, though not quite the usual razor sharp image from Fox DVD. It’s still very nice and well balanced and clear throughout though.

Flesh tones are fairly even throughout and look natural, while the rest of the colour palette is well saturated and even. Blacks occasionally look a dry brownish colour, but these are interior location shots and that happens I guess. There are also occasions of slight grain in some interiors, but this isn’t a frequent thing. As to everything else, the film looks great including shadows which are well detailed within.


The sound is very cool. Awesome music throughout and well placed in the film, although it does rise a little bit above the rest of the soundscape. Delivered in Dolby Digital stereo, audio is still crystal clear throughout. Dialogue is well spoken and nothing is lost in the use of all the fun accents employed here.

A really well utilised technique is in some practically silent scenes in which some delicate and intricate sounds have been used to fabulous effect. This really adds to the ‘time-passing’ feeling the script is portraying and can be a little disarming as we feel forever pass in the kidnapper’s hideout, but only moments go by in the frantic company of the police. Clever work that is very effective indeed.


There is quite a mixed bunch of stuff here, but not enough to warrant writing home about. Two trailers open proceedings; one for Australian audiences, the other for French. The DVD even manages to praise us lucky people for being one of only two nations who embraced the film (and therefore the two trailers), so give yourself a pat on the back if you’re from either place. Both are in 1.85:1 and enhanced, by the way.

A three way photo gallery follows that contains 45 images all told. This is okay as not all are from the film, but have been staged for promo. Five character biographies come after that, but unfortunately should have been proofread before going to press, as they contain more than one error. These read like a press release taken from interviews and are okay, but filler really.

More text in the shape of 13 cast and crew biographies that are certainly interesting reading, particularly with cast you look at and go; ‘Where did I see that guy?’. After that, all that remains is a bunch of trailers. The first are Palace Films trailers and include: Alexandra’s Project, Australian Rules, The Rage in Placid Lake and Tape. Follow that with some world trailers in The Best Man’s Wedding, Read My Lips, Italian For Beginners and Respiro.

So not a great deal, unless you like trailers, in which case it’s a festival for you. Still, it is a fairly big package for a single layer DVD 5.


A thinking person’s crime thriller, this is a film that will stand up to rewatching, just in Carla Gugino’s performance alone, though Emma Thompson’s is also a highlight. Clever writing with genuine humour that isn’t afraid to give a heart to a crook even as it takes it back. I really enjoyed this as a pleasant change from the usual shoot ‘em up crime movie and found the lack of insult to my intelligence certainly welcome. Lots of fun while creating lots of tension, this is a film that spends itself wisely, not burning itself out too early, nor holding back to the last minute. The well balanced script and well devised characters work sensibly to deliver a complete story well worth the investigation.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3013
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      And I quote...
    "Lots of fun while creating lots of tension, this is a film that spends itself wisely and evenly throughout."
    - Jules Faber
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