Bad Movies Done Right – Jade

Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Don’t judge a book by its ginger cover!

I’m not going to lie. I was a little hesitant to watch Jade, the 1995 erotic thriller from director William Friedkin.

Not having seen any episodes of CSI: Miami myself, I had a distrust for actor David Caruso born of the wealth of horror stories I had heard about the actor — stories that had me convinced I had absolutely no desire to see the Archie Andrews-look-alike contestant in any movie where he had a staring role.

Never mind the fact that I had already seen and enjoyed Session 9, a horror movie Caruso starred in last decade — I wanted nothing to do with Jade.

Well, I’ve always prided myself on my ability and willingness to jump into any movie — no matter how horrible it looks. Despite my trepidation, I steeled myself for boredom and sat down to watch the movie that, upon its release, had been a critical and commercial bust.

Well, let me be the first to admit how wrongheaded I was. Caruso may be a complete embarrassment in CSI: Miami but he did a perfectly acceptable job in Jade, a movie that had me hooked from the get-go.

Jade is not a great film. It’s probably not even a good film. But as a bad movie, it’s plenty enjoyable and well worth a watch — if only to watch more of Friedkin’s trademark skills at filming car chases.

Caruso stars as David Corelli, an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco. Up for election against his boss in the fall, Corelli finds himself involved in a case that could help him make a name for himself — if it doesn’t kill him first.

When a rich and well-connected patron of the arts is found brutally murdered in his home, the prime suspect is Katrina Gavin, an old flame of Corelli’s played by Linda Fiorentino.

Katrina is a psychologist who specializes in cases where people unknowingly develop parallel identities. It seems Katrina may have more at stake in her research than a desire to be published in a scientific journal, though. Katrina spends her nights as Jade, a sexually wild prostitute who caters to the state’s rich and powerful.

While she may be a raging slut, Corelli is not so sure Katrina is also a murderer. As he investigates her innocence, though, bodies begin piling up and attempts are even made on his own life.

Jade features a particularly effective car chase sequence set through the hilly streets of San Francisco. After an important witness to his investigation is murdered in a hit-and-run, Corelli takes up chase — following the murderer as they speed through the city and right into a crowded parade running through Chinatown.

Chazz Palminteri co-stars as Matt Gavin, a powerful criminal attorney who also happens to be Katrina’s husband and Corelli’s best friend. With his own secrets to hide, Matt proves to be a thorn in Corelli’s side — hampering his investigation.

Jade works well when director William Friedkin is allowed to let the story slowly build momentum. A follow-the-dotted-line mystery plot is tempered with some great action set pieces and some truly fine performances from Palminteri and Caruso.

Friedkin’s mastery of the camera is on full-display in Jade — purposefully and elegantly gliding the camera through scenes and offering a great portrait of San Francisco’s beauty in the process.

Unfortunately, Jade bounces between the tonality of a classic noir and a steamy Showtime late-night soft-core erotic thriller. This unevenness leaves a noticeable unbalance in the film — a possible effect of Friedkin reworking much of Joe Eszterhas’ (Basic Instinct) script on his own.

Despite the film’s few misfires, though, the overall effect remains a fun ride. Jade may not work exceptionally well as a mystery or even a police procedural but if seen as the sensual and slightly dull step-child of Alfred Hitchcock’s legacy, the film will manage to keep audiences engaged and invested as the story unfolds.

Plus, you get plenty of full-frontal nudity!

Robert Saucedo isn’t talking full-frontal nudity from David Caruso either. He would never trick you that way. Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.

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