- David Caruso as David Corelli
- Linda Fiorentino as Trina Gavin
- Chazz Palminteri as Matt Gavin
- Richard Crenna as Lew Edwards
- Michael Biehn as Bob Hargrove
A movie that is often its own worst enemy, Jade becomes a severely mixed bag throughout. There may be a few points of praise to be found, but on the spectrum it slides into a more negative side than positive.
David Corelli is a San Francisco Assistant District Attorney with ambitions to go higher. These ambitions are put on hold for his latest investigation which involves a rather grisly murder. A wealthy art dealer by the name of Kyle Medford has been killed in his home with an antique hatchet. Bob Hargrove, a detective on the case and someone who frequently clashes with Corelli discovers compromising photos in the dead man’s safe. Depicting governor Lew Edwards engaging in sex with a prostitute, these pictures as deduced by Corelli, were the fruits of attempted blackmail. Various wealthy businessman were filmed without their knowledge, with their pants down in a beach house. Medford was trying to blackmail them all with footage and photos and it looks as if he payed the price for his actions.Through questioning of various people who appear to have been involved, the name Jade is referenced frequently, arousing the interest of Corelli . The mysterious Jade is a prostitute who was according to other women the most popular lady of night willing to do just about anything for a client. Then things get a lot more complicated for Corelli as fingerprints on the murder weapon are traced back to someone he knows very well. That someone is Trina Gavin, a demure psychologist and non-fiction writer who he used to romance and is now married to his best friend, ruthless defence attorney Matt Gavin. Could Trina really be the mysterious Jade who appears to link everyone? Is she guilty of murder? As digs deeper, more secrets and an unfurling game of perversion, corruption and scandal that reaches high levels of power puts him to the test and could very well threaten his life.
In the films of William Friedkin, he has always managed to imprint his stamp on them, even when they’ve been less than desirable films. The same can be spoken of here because while Jade is a mess, the direction from Friedkin is supremely stylish. It’s a crying shame then that many other parts of the movie, despite some bright spots, can not really get itself together to craft a compelling story. For every good step the movie takes, the two steps back that follow do a major detriment to it. The main point of contention is the script which attempts to make the film unusual and erotic, but ends up feeling dry. It tries to introduce sex games to tantalize the viewer, adding in kinky acts too, but while Jade is billed as an erotic thriller, it’s not nearly erotic enough to sustain interest. On the thriller front, there is a very cool and well choreographed car chase that is mightily effective and one of the highlights of the picture. In it, Corelli gives chase to an assassin’s car and they speed down steep hills and eventually get caught up in a Chinatown parade that hampers both. The scene is one of the best in the movie, which makes it all the more difficult to sit through the rest of the film because the following parts are just a mess. The pace has a quickness too it, but is out-of-place in a movie that should have more of a slow burn about it instead of jumping ship. The characters are not particularly compelling or intriguing, all seem to have a one note tendency. At least there is an exotic and oriental influenced score provided by James Horner that’s sensually orchestrated and gives Jade some of the erotic flavour that much of the picture lacks. And a honeyed cinematography brings a touch of class to proceedings in which respectability is something lacking.
As the script is lacking in many areas, the acting suffers though the main cast tries their best to make something substantial. Noe of the actors can really be blamed as they what they can, but nothing can save this sort of script. David Caruso has the right toughness for the part, but the character is a damp squib who constantly looks morose. If we had more meaning to his character, it could have been something else entirely. In the part of the mysterious Trina, Linda Fiorentino is alluring enough. Yet like with the characterization of Caruso’s role, her part is not given enough input into the story and this is problematic. Even the robust presence of the reliable Chazz Palminteri is squandered by poor writing. Richard Crenna and Michael Biehn(sporting a suspect moustache) are given scant to do here.
So so while the direction is well-appointed, James Horner’s music is sultry and the car chase stands out as a good set piece, Jade feels too convoluted, rushed and one-note to really be considered a great thriller.