By David Sturm, Copyright 1996

All the ingredients for a contemporary mystery thriller are in place for "Jade": kink, gore, crashing cars and a house beautiful.

This is hack work with a pedigree, what with William ("The French Connection") Friedkin directing from a script by Joe ("Showgirls") Esterhas.

Friedkin is mostly aboard to make the most of the film's big action centerpiece, a stop-and-start car chase that plows through an entire Chinese-American parade on a narrow street in San Francisco.

There is little evidence here, however, of the hard-boiled Friedkin who put a chilly noir spin on films like "To Live and Die in L.A."

As for Esterhas' script, it's got one of the oldest of all movie mystery gimmicks, the unrelated killers technique. In this gimmick, a string of murders follows a high-profile murder and it seems as if they are all connected. However, the killer of the first victim and the killer of the subsequent victims are unconnected and have different motives. The killer of the subsequent victims is lured out, cornered and killed and it seems that justice has been done. But the movie ends with the revelation that a different person--who is now scot free--did the initial killing.

What makes "Jade" of more than passing interest is the presence of Linda Fiorentino in the femme fatale role usually played by Demi Moore or Sharon Stone.

Fiorentino, who has a lot of Lauren Bacall's style, trails some of the sang froid she displayed in "The Last Seduction," a far better movie than "Jade."

In "Jade" she's an enigmatic society sexpot married to a rich unscrupulous lawyer played by Chazz Palminteri. When a rich guy is murdered and her fingerprints are found on the African tribal axe that split his head open, some explanations are in order.

David Caruso (who does his trademark lip-smack in his very first appearance on camera!) is the assistant district attorney trying to get to the bottom of this. Things get complicated when blackmail pictures depicting the governor of California cavorting with a prostitute turn up in the dead man's safe.

There are hints of heterosexual activity of the sort that is probably still illegal in South Carolina. However, it's fleetingly depicted and dimly lit.

There are also the requisite autopsy and yucky corpse shots.

What "Jade" is really about is interior decoration and wealth displays. Over and over, the camera pans slowly through opulent interiors, down hallways filled with art and through sun-bathed sitting rooms in seaside mansions. Helicopter shots swoop over estates sitting above ocean-washed rocks.

This is the real porn in Hollywood these days.

Back to Video Review Archive.