Fall in Love with “Gorgeous” on Blu-ray at Amazon.com!
Bu believes in true love. The young Taiwanese girl, with immense positivity, travels from her small fishing village of Jibei to the big city of Hong Kong after discovering a bottle containing a romantic note floating in the sea. When Bu is let down by the originating sender, a gay makeup artist in an attempt to use fate and fortune to bring back an ex-lover, she strikes up a friendship with him which leads to a wealthy business owner and Chinese boxing enthusiast C.N. Chan who serendipitously comes into her life. With a well-known reputation of being a rake, Bu pretends to be a prominent ex-lover of a notorious crime boss in order to not be taken advantage of as she slowly falls for Chan’s playful charm. A longtime rival businessman causes conflict by driving a wedge between Bu and Chan as fight training intensifies after losing to his rival’s hired professional fighter and Chan loses sight of what’s really important in life – happiness.
International martial artists superstar Jackie Chan makes his debut on our little boutique review blog for his Hong Kong cult film, the 1999 romantic comedy with stellar fight sequences, “Gorgeous.” “Forbidden City Cop” writer-director Vincent Kok teams up with Yiu Fai Lo and the “Rush Hour” star to pen a new kind of story for the stuntman and martial artists that would put a roundhouse kick of insecurities onto any action star’s chin. Based on the Ivy Ho (“The Accidental Spy”) story, “Gorgeous” involves more than just punches, kicks, and high-flying antics with a comedy romance story about two very different people and perspectives finding commonality in unflinching happiness, joy, and love. Jackie Chan does comedy very well but the comedy in “Gorgeous” is half non-physical, which the action star has mastered the craft by integrating into his physical model. “Gorgeous” is a production of Golden Harvest Productions and is produced by Jackie Chan and then Golden Harvest president the late Raymond Chow.
Obviously, you can’t have a Jackie Chan movie without high-level martial arts action. In the same breath, Jackie Chan wanted to give his Asian fans another movie after the tremendous success of “Rush Hour” that sent the longtime East-adored icon into global stardom. Thus, “Gorgeous” was born, developed, and rewritten to add Jackie Chan as the lead character, playboy and business tycoon C.N. Chan, alongside costar Shu Qi of “Sex and Zen II” and “The Transporter” with Jason Statham. As Bu, Qi develops a starry-eyed longing for unequivocal romance that you can only find in fairytales and storybooks as she is confronted by the puppy dog eyes of the local fishing boy proclaiming his love for her only to be rejected by Qi’s downplayed naivety that makes her appear to be the village simpleton. Yet, the character is surrounded by a carefree comedic mom-and-dad of beer-drinking restaurant owners, Sung-Young Chen (“Hello Dracula”) and Elaine Jin (“The House That Never Dies”). As a flirtatious couple of Bu’s hopeless romanticism driven by the signs and kismet and Chan’s all-business, no-play waning for a girl to be childlike to bring out the dormant happiness inside him, Jackie Chan and Shu Qi manage to never close that gap to fully immerse themselves as onscreen love interests in their 80’s structured amorous narrative and go get’em montage. Where “Gorgeous” charisma lies is with Chan’s mano-on-mano dual with Jackie Chan’s hired member of his stuntman team, Brad Allan. The former Australian gymnast and Chinese circus acrobat has a towering magnetism about him despite only standing 5’4” tall, shorter than Jackie Chan. The fight sequences between the two nimble men with incredible speed and form, mirror each other with precision in their own individual styles, garner some the best one-on-one choreographed bouts ever to hit the screen and to be felt by the audiences with hard-hitting throws. While the impact of the Chinese boxing is palpable, Chan and Allen pepper in lighter moments of great physical comedy that take the intensity down a notch in a welcoming reprieve from solemn combat. That solemnity in Allen’s character is greatly received and adds to his magnetic appeal that doesn’t make the mercenary fighter a bad guy though hired by the antagonist (Emil Chau, “Super Cop 2”) of the story; instead, Allen’s fair without pulling punches and without dirty tricks, as he mentions to Chan to avoid, and we end up rooting for both men’s dignified square up being battled not in a square ring. Tony Leung Chiu-wai (“Internal Affairs”), Ken Lo (“Holy Virgin vs. The Evil Dead”), Tats Lau (“Dating Death”), Richie Jen (“Tales from the Occult”), Siu Wai Cheung, and “Kung Fu Hustle’s” Stephen Chow costar.
While “Gorgeous” may not be evil in the least for our conversational liking and our in-depth coverage with its abundance of lighthearted goodness, romanticized ideals, and slapstick comedy, the turn of a century film has cult qualities with shoddy 90’s effects, intricate fight choreographies, and eclectic, eccentric performances that make the Hong Kong-Taiwan product standup and standout to be noticed. The fight sequences alone swallow much of the attention and overwhelm a rather flimsy passionate plotline between C.N. Chan and Bu in what stirs between feels more platonic than desire. “Gorgeous” attempts, and succeeds to a version of a successful end, a theme about positivity and happiness and how that brightness can be diminished by deceits, workaholism, and distracting contentions, sucking the joy from out of life and spitting out a solitude bitterness without any kind of understanding of how it all happened. We see this more in the dynamics of business rivals Chan and L.W. Lo, two childhood friends driven apart by their subjective comparisons as they try to top one another, culminating from their back-and-forth to see who is the best at everything into the realization that their bond was ultimately worth more than success at material things. This enriching theme, plus Jackie Chan’s stunt team work, pushes asides the infatuation glop of Chan and Bu’s playful childlike intimacy that just seems to slip through your fingers, unable grasp traction to be interesting enough.
“Gorgeous” receives an 88 Films’ 2K overhaul with a Blu-ray upgrade from the original film materials of the Hong Kong & International versions of the film, delivering two cuts in high definition 1080p and presented in an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The AVC encoded BD50 offers plenty of room for “Gorgeous” to look, well, gorgeous on hi-def with a vibrant, spotless transfer of the 35mm shot print. Coloring is consistently stable and rejuvenated for a fresh picture image; no one-off blips or glitches on the grading in sight on this very azure and teal toned production. Despite holding two features and a handful of extras, the dual-layered single disc offers no hint of compression issues, creating a smooth beginning to end viewing. The Hong Kong cut comes with a Cantonese DTS-HD 5.1 MA while the International Cut comes with the same as well as an English DTS-HD 5.1 dub track. For authenticity purposes, the original native language is always the preferred choice and the Cantonese track on the HK cut simply shines with an orotund dialogue track, robust milieu and ambience, and a blended bubbly and businesslike score whenever the mood hits by Dan-yee Wong. Balanced and kept in the check, neither track overtakes the other with a timely parallel consonance. The newly translated English subtitles are paced well with error-free transcription. Special features include Shy Guy – Andy Cheng, a member of Jackie Chan’s stunt team, discusses the rise of Brad Allen as well as note on the stunt team in general and Jackie Chan’s success at the time of “Gorgeous,” an interview with director Vincent Kok on Chan’s unfamiliar territory into romantic comedies, an archived making-of “Gorgeous” with raw and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, “Gorgeous” music video in Cantonese and Mandarin, and the Hong Kong and International trailers. The limited edition slipcover feature is a cardboard o-slip with illustrative art from 88 Films graphic artist Sean Longmore overtop a 2 to 3 millimeter thicker Blu-ray snapper to house the 32-page color booklet with daily set report of “The Accidental Spy” by writer Matthew Edwards and behind the-scene photos, a dual-sided mini-poster of Longmore’s slipcover art and the original poster one-sheet, a disc pressed with the image of Shu Qi smiling, and reversible cover art with the original poster one-sheet and a couple of “Gorgeous” stills joined together on one half. Each cut is drastically different in length with the international cut heavily trimmed at 99 minutes while the HK cut keeps unedited at 2 hours. Both features are not rated and are both have a region A and B playback with C untested. Jackie Chan has always been a pillar of entertainment and “Gorgeous” is no exception to the rule. 88 Films refreshes the now 24-year-old film with a new, exciting transfer and physical package that commits one of the best fights in cinematic history to hi-def.