China Moon (1991) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This film was originally shot in 1991 and shelved for three years before it was released. That will tell you that the studio wasn't high on its prospects. They were right to be worried.  It did virtually nothing at the box and disappeared into pay cable hell, where it survives based upon some frontal nudity.

It's basically the low-rent Body Heat, a noir with multiple twists and double-crosses, in which the wife needs to figure out some way to free herself of her rich asshole husband.

This time, the patsy is not a really dumb horny lawyer, but rather a really smart horny cop who gets blindsided by people he trusts. 


Madeleine Stowe was topless in a tight upper body shot, and did a distant, dark, full frontal.

Theresa Bean did a full-frontal turn as a murdered woman.

Patricia Healy showed her breasts as the girlfriend of the murdered husband.

This flick has plot twists, sex, hot Florida nights, and the patsy disposing of the husband's body, but it doesn't have any of the great strengths that make Body Heat an excellent movie. There is no clever dialogue, the characters aren't very well-rounded, and the acting skills are restricted solely to the two leads. A young Benicio del Toro was painfully clumsy and stilted in his role as Harris' rookie partner, and the murdered husband had a sillier southern accent than Foghorn Leghorn. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1, and a full screen version

  • no meaningful features

And the only really interesting mystery involves wondering to what degree Madeleine Stowe is a victim and to what degree she is the manipulator. Frankly, you won't really care that much, but Stowe was sexy in the role.

China Moon is a workmanlike, serviceable murder mystery with Ed Harris in the lead, but it has no special flair, and is only for genre addicts.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.9 
  • With their dollars ... negligible domestic gross ($3 millon)
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C.

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