Immediately following Rush Hour, Jackie Chan returned to his native Hong Kong, promising a picture that would hold greater appeal for his fan base. Yet, in its emphasis on fairy tale romance, the end result of that mission represents as significant a departure for the International superstar as said American action-comedy.
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At the start of Gorgeous, Bu (Shu Qi), a starry-eyed young caretaker of dolphins, finds a princely message in a bottle and decides to seek out its author. Her journey to the mainland seems like a total washout (the messenger is actually gay) until she crosses paths with C.N., a handsome recycling tycoon (Chan, finally called something other than Jackie) whose all-business exterior she's determined to infiltrate.
Our patience for Bu's girlish hyperactivity wears thin, but it's rewarded by a handful of strong Martial Arts scenes, including an indescribable routine involving baseball bats and a mesmerizing, if simplistic, climactic fist fight. The bad guy here is Howie (Emil Chau), a corporate adversary determined to dishonour Jackie by having someone in a lower weight class beat him at boxing, but his Achilles Heel in villainy is a lack of bloodlust. (He tells his henchmen not to throw C.N. overboard without a life preserver.) I enjoyed this comedic aspect of Gorgeous more than I did its twinkly fatalism.
Columbia Tri-Star offers Gorgeous on DVD with the original Cantonese soundtrack as a listening option, which is further than any Hollywood studio has ever gone before to preserve the integrity of a Jackie Chan film. Unfortunately, CT-S has also lopped over twenty minutes from the Chinese cut of Gorgeous for this release, and that's just regressive thinking. Aside from scattered nicks and slight digital ringing from too much crispness, Gorgeous lives up to its title on this disc, which is offered in 16x9-enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen and severely cropped full-frame versions on the same side of an RSDL platter. An end-credit sequence of outtakes is window-boxed, giving it the appearance of a more severe aspect ratio.
Both the Catonese and English-ADR'd mixes of Gorgeous are offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 here. While dialogue inevitably sounds more artificial in the latter (and the bland white guy voice chosen to replace Jackie's is continually distracting), each recording boasts a healthy and tight LFE channel, adding voltage to every punch as well as the music during a fashion shoot (in chapter 7--showroom material). Rear speaker use is minimal throughout, though surround information is noticeably split.
Jackie contributes a feature-length commentary in English that demonstrates two things: 1) his speaking voice is actually a couple of octaves lower than his manic talk show appearances would suggest, and 2) he would have been better off delivering this monologue in his native tongue, with CT-S subtitling the results, for he constantly struggles to translate his thoughts. (It takes him a full ten minutes to explain how Bu was cast, which is a two-minute anecdote, tops.)
The DVD also features a Talent File for Jackie, plus the half-hour "Making of Gorgeous", a most unusual Chinese short. Jackie's stunts and the technical aspects of the production are barely touched upon; instead, the actors are asked to share their personal definitions of love and, by extension, how these feelings informed their characters. Within this doc and as an additional supplement, you'll find the video for the "Theme from Gorgeous", a prosaic love song that requires a strong stomach for sentiment.
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