Review for Gorgeous
I have a pile of Blu-rays to my left (got so many of them that my storage system is the basic pile at this point), and I can see a bunch of 88 Films and Eureka spines, signifying the prime era of Jackie Chan action comedies, films like Police Story, Project A, Armour of God and The Young Master, and you can chart a timeline beginning in the eighties, and stretching into the early nineties. But Jackie Chan’s action movie prime does extend further than that. It’s just that things get a little odd from the mid-nineties onwards, and we’ve started getting those films on UK Blu-ray now, films which might not be seen as Jackie Chan classics, but are still worth re-evaluating. In the mid-nineties, the Jackie Chan action comedy staple had moved to the US, with films like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, and that gave him some clout to stretch himself when it came to Hong Kong movies, beyond what audiences expected from him. In 1999, Jackie Chan made a romantic comedy...
Bu was born and raised on Jibei Island, the island of love, but love never found her until the day that a message in a bottle washed up on the shore. That was enough to get her on a plane to Hong Kong to find Albert, the man who penned that passionate missive. Only when she does find him, he’s a gay make-up artist. It’s still a chance to see Hong Kong, and one day Albert takes her to a photo-shoot on a yacht. It’s during this that Bu sees businessman Chi-Ng Chan being attacked by his rival’s bodyguards on a nearby ship. Bu’s quick to the rescue, but the two wind up shipwrecked when she forgets to steer the boat.
Both the Hong Kong Version and the shorter International Cut are presented on this disc from 88 Films.
The film gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer; the Hong Kong version gets a DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Cantonese track, while the International Version gets DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and Cantonese with optional English subtitles. The transfer is good, clear and sharp with excellent detail and rich colours. That helps the action come across with great impact. There is a natural level of film grain, while the print is clean and free of print damage. There is some well dodgy CGI, but this was 1999. The audio is nice and immersive enough, although the music is the most prominent thing about the sound design. The dialogue is clear, and the subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos, although for hard of hearing viewers, there are no subtitles for the scenes with English dialogue.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray style case with a reversible sleeve, wrapped in an o-card slipcover. There is a foldout poster which repeats the sleeve art inside the case, as well as a 36 page-booklet. I have a real problem with this booklet, and that beyond the ‘80s video game magazine choice of light font on light background. Writer Matthew Edwards gives a paragraph to Gorgeous, and spends the rest of the piece on the 2001 movie, The Accidental Spy. I get the feeling I’ll have to buy The Accidental Spy on Blu-ray to read about Gorgeous.
The following extras are on the disc, beginning with the International Cut of Gorgeous. This runs to just 99:20, and it’s here that you’ll find the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround dub, along with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Cantonese audio track, with optional subtitles and a signs only track.
The International Version also gets the DVD audio commentary from Jackie Chan.
There are two new audio commentaries to go with the Hong Kong version, one from Frank Djeng & F J DeSanto, and one from Mike Leeder & Arne Venema.
Shy Guy – Andy Cheng on Brad Allan (17:01)
Boxing Day – Vincent Kok Tak Chiu on Gorgeous (23:54)
[Archive] The Making of “Gorgeous” (30:03)
Music Video 1 (4:07)
Music Video 2 (4:07)
Hong Kong Trailer (2:04)
English Trailer (1:32)
If Sabrina Fair was a kung-fu movie, it would be Gorgeous. Actually, Gorgeous was meant to be a straight-up rom-com, but with Jackie Chan came certain expectations, and thereby hangs a tale, which that sole paragraph in the booklet merely tantalises with. To its credit, this is kung-fu as in comedy, or competition, never fighting with a sense of peril or threat. It is a romantic comedy after all. Even still, this does have probably one of the best, one-on-one fight sequences in a Jackie Chan movie. The final action sequence with Jackie Chan and Brad Allan is so good that I had watched it on Youtube several times already, and on the back of that thought I was buying a movie I had already seen. This turned out to be the first time I had actually seen Gorgeous. That’s a useful reminder that there will always be a Jackie Chan film that you have yet to watch.
Gorgeous really does work well as a romantic comedy, and a lot of that is on the portrayal of Bu by Shu Qi, who brings a wonderful innocence and naiveté to the role. They also borrow from Hollywood rom-coms of the period, by giving her a gay best friend to support her in her romance, although with the twist that she’s led to this friend by the message in a bottle that motivates her search for romance. She’s got good chemistry with Jackie Chan, who is still young enough at this point to allow the romance to work. The story also manages to squeeze in the action in a believable way, by introducing Lai-Wah Lo as Chan’s business rival, indeed rival from childhood when they sparred in kung fu. Chan keeps getting one over on him in business, so he’s always looking to give a beating in return, and when his dopey bodyguards aren’t up to the task, he hires a professional fighter from abroad to humiliate Chan.
At the same time, to impress Chan, Bu is advised to pretend to be someone else, someone more interesting than an island girl, so she puts on the guise of a gangster’s girlfriend, and so the two storylines begin to intertwine. I watched the Hong Kong version first, and despite the two hour runtime, the film never did feel bloated or slow. There’s also a random Stephen Chow cameo which is hilarious. But you won’t get the Chow cameo in the International Cut, 20 minutes shorter by actually toning down the romantic comedy to emphasise the action sequences. I guess they ‘knew’ what Western audiences wanted from their Jackie Chan movies 20 years ago.
Still, a rom-com makes a nice difference from the usual action comedy fare, even if there is some action thrown in here to appease the existing demographic. The two protagonists have good chemistry, and the film borrows all the right Hollywood rom-com clichés to deliver sweetness without excessive schmaltz. 88 Films put together a great Blu-ray package, once again combining useful archive extras with new material put together for this release, while getting the A/V basics right. Gorgeous is the perfect film if you want something a little different from a Jackie Chan movie, but not too different.
Gorgeous is available from Terracotta, direct from 88 Films, and all the usual mainstream retailers.