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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Jade

Starring: Linda Fiorentino, David Caruso
Director: William Friedkin
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: October 1995
Genres: Drama, Erotica, Suspense

*Also starring: Chazz Palminteri, Michael Biehn, Richard Crenna, Donna Murphy, Ken King, Holt McCallany, David Hunt, Angie Everhart

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Dragan Antulov read the review video review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

JADE is William Friedkin's hot new mystery, thriller, and highly sexual movie. Friedkin is a talented director who gave the world THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE EXORCIST, and TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA among others. This time he is teamed up with controversial writer Joe Eszterhas. Eszterhas, whose interviews about the writing of SHOWGIRLS, make him sound like an idiot, nevertheless has written some movies of great tension and suspense including JAGGED EDGE and BASIC INSTINCT.

As the show unfolds, we see a darkly lit room filled with African masks. The intense and effective music (James Horner) blasts out at the audience with a piano playing all those keys down in the low register. The editing (Augie Hess) adds to the tension as the cuts jump from one ominous image to another. We have seen nothing actually scary, and yet we are already on the edge of our seats due to the lavish and haunting sets (Alex Tavoularis).

Soon people begin to appear on the set. We have a rich male corpse who was killed in some sex-related incident. Assistant DA David Corelli (David Caruso) is on the case. His buddies say how lucky he is since the election is next year and apparently he has been eyeing his boss's job.

One of the best parts of the movie is that it was shot on location in San Francisco. You get to see a lot of famous and beautiful sights plus there is no better place in the world than the hills of the San Francisco to stage long car chases. The second scene of the movie is shot in The Palace Hotel at the annual Black and White Ball. We get the see the famous large Pied Piper painting by Maxfield Parish, one of my favorite artists.

At the ball Corelli runs into his to his ex-girlfriend, Trina Gavin (Linda Fiorentino), whom he still has the hots for. She is accompanied by her extremely wealthy lawyer husband, Matt Gavin (Chazz Palminteri), who is a sports buddy of Corelli's. Trina casually mentions that she was alone at the dead man's house earlier in the day. Later, in a further complication, we find out that the dead man had pictures in his safe of the Governor of California (Richard Crenna) in compromising positions with a hooker.

Eszterhas's script then leads the viewer on a chase for who killed the dead man. As the story develops, it gets much more complex which I liked a lot. The dialog on the other hand and the character development left a lot to be desired. The lawyer Matt is a poorly constructed character that gave Palminteri nothing to do. David and Trina are quite interesting characters, especially Trina, and yet, I was disappointed. Perhaps it was because the trailers for the movie were so excellent and perhaps it was because Fiorentino is one of the most interesting actress in the movies today. She has dominated most of her movies, don't miss for example, THE LAST SEDUCTION. She has a film presence unlike any other actress. Here, however, Friedkin keeps throttling her for some reason, but she is best in her usual take no prisoners approach to acting. One sad part of the movie is that the great actor Richard Crenna is given a part so tiny that a few snips of the editor's scissors, and he would have had no scenes at all.

The sound editing is way off. The background noise is fine and highly dramatic when there are no voices, but when someone speaks it is frequently hard to hear them due to pumped up music and sound effects. The cinematographer (Andrzej Bartkowiak), on the other hand, did a great job of shooting at just the right eerie light level and zooming in for close-ups at the right time to heighten the tension.

A high point of the show, even if it does go on a bit too long, is one great car chase scene. I can not think of another movie where I enjoyed a car chase more. The cars go up higher in the air, than any I have ever seen. The chase ends in a great visual through the bright colors of a Chinatown parade. The bad car itself is cool with smoked glass and a look reminiscent of the Batmobile.

If you like to try to guess the endings of mysteries and are good at it, you will probably get this one basically right. I do not enjoy guessing. I like to let the show unfold and try not to figure it out. For me, the complexity of the plot, the tension, the excellent craft in all parts of the movie (camera, lighting, sets, etc.), and the presence of Fiorentino made the show work for me. On the other hand, there is not a single memorable line in the movie.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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