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Featured Blu-ray Review: Jade

April 3rd, 2010

Jade - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Sometimes a movie's reputation is so strong that it is impossible to ignore. Other times a movie's reputation is the only memorable aspect about it. Jade is an example of the latter. For the most part, people who remember the film remember it as the movie that nearly ended David Caruso's career. (If it wasn't for CSI: Miami, that reputation would be stronger.) That said, given the film's pathetic box office, most people who remember the film have never seen it. So perhaps its reputation is undeserved. I'm willing to give it a fair shake.

The film stars three main leads: David Caruso as David Corelli, Linda Fiorentino as Katrina Gavin, and Chazz Palminteri as Matt Gavin. David and Katrina used to be a couple, but she instead married Matt. However, all three remained friends. This relationship is even more complicated, as Matt is a high-power criminal defense attorney, while David is an A.D.A. The film begins with the audience hearing (but not seeing) a murder. We learn that the victim it was Kyle Medford, an art collector with political connections who Katrina had met earlier that day. The crime scene is gruesome. When they investigate, it turns out that not only was he in financial trouble, but there was some hanky-panky going on. His photography was perhaps a means to blackmail. But that's not where the investigation ends. The further David Corelli investigates, the more Katrina Gavin is implicated. He discovers that she's been leading a double-life, but the surprise twists don't end there. As David gets closer to the truth, potential witnesses start dying. There's even an attempt on his life.

Is Katrina really the killer? Could it be her husband? Or is it someone else involved in the blackmail?

Dear lord there's a lot of bad acting in this movie. Practically every scene has at least one actor embarrassing him or herself. However, I don't blame the actors for the most part. I blame the script. This is a terrible, terrible script. I was not surprised to learn it was by Joe Eszterhas, who at the time was considered the most powerful screenwriter in Hollywood, but also had a reputation for being a hack. He sold the outline to this script for $2.5 million. $2.5 million for just the outline! To be fair to the person who made that deal, it was an erotic thriller and Joe Eszterhas was in some ways responsible for the explosion of films in that sub-genre, penning Basic Instinct a few years earlier. I have no problem with screenwriters making a lot of money. After all, the script is the biggest single reason for a film's success. However, by the same token, a bad script can sink a movie at every level. This is the case here. There are some talented actors in this movie, but all feel like they are sleepwalking their way through the film. No amount of effort and no amount of talent can make a bad line of dialogue in a pointless scene seem any less trite. The film is directed by William Friedkin, who won an Oscar for The French Connection and was nominated two years later for The Exorcist. Here it feels like he is struggling to bring a lame script to life. He doesn't succeed. No one could have succeeded in that task. It really is a monumental waste of time. Without the sex, no one would have paid any attention to the movie. With the sex, it is still a boring movie.

There are no real extras on the Blu-ray, but you can set bookmarks. As for the film's technical presentation, the video is mediocre while the sound is only slightly better. For a 15-year old catalogue release, this is acceptable. But this is obviously not a disc that you are going to use to show off your home theater system.

The Verdict

The erotic thriller sub-genre burned out very quickly, and for good reason. It was very easy to take a simple mystery, add a couple uninteresting twists, throw in a lot of sex, and hope it sells. This formula helped Basic Instinct pull in more than $100 million at the box office. Just three years later, the same schtick resulted in Jade, a movie that cost $50 million to make but only pulled in $10 million at the box office. It also practically ended the career of Joe Eszterhas, who hasn't had a major theatrical release since then. And, quite frankly, this was only fitting. The script was horrendous and the movie should be avoided by all. The Blu-ray is a featureless disc that does nothing to push the technology and while it might look and sound better than it did on DVD, it is still utterly skippable.

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