Don’t worry, smile: 88 Films’s 2K restoration is “Gorgeous.”

Martial artist. Stuntman. Action director. Comedic Actor. Romantic lead? The first four absolutely describe world-renowned physical performer Jackie Chan, but the last? Certainly during his time making films with studio/distributor Golden Harvest, that’s not something the actor dared pursue as it might tarnish his image. However, after the giant box office international surprise that was Rush Hour (1998), Chan finally decided to enter a genre he’d never tackled, romantic comedy, and did so in the unexpectedly sweet Gorgeous, directed by Vincent Kok (Forbidden City Cop) and co-starring Shu Qi (The Transporter), Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love), Wakin Chau (Supercop 2/Rumble in the Bronx), and martial artist Bradley James Allan (Rush Hour 2). Released as part of 88 Films’s 88 Asia Collection, U.S. audiences can enjoy either the original two-hour Hong Kong cut or 100-minute International Cut in a 2K restoration, along with copious bonus features in a thoughtfully crafted package.

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Shu Qi as Bu in GORGEOUS. Photo courtesy of 88 Films.

Taiwanese Bu (Qi) dreams of falling in love. To her surprise, she finds a message in a bottle of one lover calling out to another. Wondering if this is her special someone trying to find her, she decides to travel to Hong Kong to find the owner. Unfortunately, the owner isn’t receptive to her arrival, but the meeting does put her on the path to meet Chan Chi-Ng (Chan), a wealthy businessman with a penchant for bachelorism. Unsure of herself, she concocts a wild backstory to keep his interest, unaware that his own business dealings are undergoing some trouble-causing tension as he tries to outmaneuver an old classmate for ownership of a company. As these stories coverage and the truth revealed, will love win out?

When Gorgeous first crossed my path, the idea of checking out a Jackie Chan film (featuring Qi and Leung, no less) that I hadn’t seen was intriguing enough. However, seeing it billed as Chan’s first foray into romantic-comedies is an aspect hard to pass up. By the time Rush Hour had hit theaters, I knew of Chan for his physical comedy and his action projects (as well as cartoons and singing), so I didn’t think much of it when I learned of The Tuxedo (2002) and The Medallion (2003), two action comedies that featured a younger female lead as a semi-romantic companion. Thus, the notion of checking out a film that’s a rom-com first and action film second arouses one’s curiosity and Gorgeous mostly delivers. The story goes that Chan had been interested in branching out, but his contract with Golden Harvest prevented him doing so (though it’s believed to be a result of the guidance of his godfather, Leonard Ho, who oversaw Golden Harvest), and took a chance as soon as he could off the success of Rush Hour.

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L-R: Shu Qi as Bu and Jackie Chan as Chan Chi-Ng in GORGEOUS. Photo courtesy of 88 Films.

The way, Kok tells it in the interview featurette, Kok and Chan met up during the press tour for Rush Hour and even attended the Taiwan premiere together. What’s interesting about this is that Chan was set to produce the film, but upon taking on the role of Chi-Ng, began working with Kok to adjust the script into something that might also draw the audience he has, thereby creating the need for action sequences. Impressively, if one didn’t know that the sequences were late additions to the script, you’d not realize it, they are so seamlessly woven in and don’t detract from the larger rom-com elements. For one, Bu’s introduction as audience guide through the story (a departure as usually Chan would be). Her view of the world is a little more magical and imaginative, so the film as a whole takes on a slightly hyperreal feel, enabling the performances from Leung’s Albert, a gay makeup artist, to be fun without reverting to stereotypes, and add the danger of fisticuffs without actually placing anyone in danger. How so? The fighting is all comically staged, the threats involved are more aggravational/inconvenient than personal attacks, and the fights as a whole don’t directly impact the success or failure of the relationship. For instance, Allan’s fighter is brought in by Lo Lai-Wah (Chau) specifically as a way to use one of Chi-Ng’s hobbies (fighting) as a means of humiliating him privately and choices Allan because he’s not only a lightweight champion fighter but shorter/smaller than Chi-Ng. This gives the first interaction between the two fighters the sense that this is not a massive threat so much as someone just working out a minor grudge, a sense that is supported by the use of gloves, the rules to the fight, and the respectful way both fighters engage each other. Even when the two face-off again in the climactic fight of the film, as impressive as the two are in their combat, it’s still played for laughs while being impressive to observe. Fighting in a film should always move the characters forward in one way or another while also communicating something that language does not. In this case, both fights convey Chi-Ng’s mental place and inform how he’s shifted his view. That both fighters refrain from cheating or low blows also speaks to their mutual respect for each other, enabling the fight to seem less barbaric (compared to the final fight in Dragons Forever or Rumble where the fights are decidedly vicious) and ineffectual to the plot. Instead, the fights themselves are just examples of how using one’s words to create connection between people (in this case Chi-Ng and Lo Lai-Wah) is preferred over presumption and throwing hands.

Though Chan is likely the reason most people will check out Gorgeous, do remember that Qi is the actual lead and she is positively charming as Bu. If not for her performance, there’s a great deal that wouldn’t work in the film, largely because Chan’s role here is very similar to other things we’ve seen of him and Qi’s own physical performance and line delivery causes Chan to shine merely through her various setups. Leung isn’t given as much to do in this film, but he’s a fun watch, especially in the physical comedy arena, such as when Bu hides in Albert’s fridge in order to avoid a suitor that followed her from Taiwan and landed on his doorstep. One needs to understand verbal and physical timing to be able to make tension comedic and the scene in his apartment is but one of several where Leung steals the show from Qi and Chan easily.

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L-R: Jackie Chan as Chan Chi-Ng and Bradley James Allan as Alan in GORGEOUS. Photo courtesy of 88 Films.

Oddly, there is no information regarding the restoration within the liner notes, so the only information I can provide on where the restoration came from is via the press release which indicates that original materials for both the Hong Kong and International cuts were used to construct the 2K transfer. There’s no indication as to whether the audio also underwent any kind of new processing, but there are brand-new English subtitles. Both cuts of the film include 5.1 support with the Hong Kong Cut offering Cantonese 5. 1 and the International Cut offering both Cantonese and English 5.1. Two commentary tracks are included with the Hong Kong Cut and one for the International Cut, specifically Chan provides the commentary for this one. Considering that Chan served multiple roles on the production, hearing his thoughts on the 20-minutes shorter edition is likely going to offer some interesting nuggets. In terms of the sound and look, the quality is far more consistent in the former than the latter. The dialogue comes through clearly, the foley work for the action scenes has a nice resonant texture, and the scoring is solid, all coming together for an engaging experience. Oddly, the transfer shifts in quality depending on where the scene is set or shot. In wider shots for the Taiwan sequences, there’s a strange fuzzy filter making the characters seem just slightly out of focus. It’s almost the kind of soft lighting you’d see on an older black & white picture, perhaps used with the intent of making the activity on screen seem, itself, softer given the rom-com nature of the project. Interestingly, during the few action scenes, the cinematography shifts to become razor-sharp and clear so that we can make out all the little details in attire on the fighters, as well as follow the fight chorography easily. As mentioned before, Chan’s involvement to star ended up adding action sequences and they end up feeling like the premier moments because of how they look in the restoration. On the whole, as the softer scenes are relegated to the beginning and end of the film, this isn’t something that should prevent home viewing audiences from enjoying themselves.

Originally released in Region B format on March 27th, 2023, the 2K restoration is now available for American martial arts enthusiasts. Based on the information provided by MVD Entertainment Group with the review copy, as well as what’s posted on the official 88 Films product page, the on-disc materials are a mixture of brand-new and previously available features. The new comes in the forms of a limited edition matte slipcover that replicates the artwork and information on the front paper liner of the packaging; a 28-page booklet made up of behind-the scenes photos, transfer information, and an essay from writer/journalist Matthew Edwards detailing his visit to the set of Chan’s 2001 release The Accidental Spy; and a reversible poster that has the featured artwork from the slipcover on one side and an alternate poster on the other. The same artwork on the backside of the poster also makes up the reversible paper liner of the Blu-ray case.

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L-R: Bradley James Allan as Alan and Jackie Chan as Chan Chi-Ng in GORGEOUS. Photo courtesy of 88 Films.

The on-disc features are a collection of music videos, trailers, and interviews, each one offering a different insight into the film. Personally, I miss the days where a film might inspire or get attached to a song and would release a music video for it (1998’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” for Armageddon or 1998’s “How Deep Is Your Love” for Rush Hour). Here you can check out two music videos for “Loi Ye Fong Cheung” by Moses Chan & Gigi Laiand, as well as the HK and English Cut trailers, three total feature-length audio tracks for both cuts, and two featurettes. The interview with Kok is particularly interesting as it lines up with what’s considered the facts surrounding Chan’s involvement in the project, while also gaining insight into the writer/director’s career which is incredibly varied and has seen him working with a veritable who’s-who of Hong Kong cinema.

When a film is billed as a rom-com and features CG dolphins doing repetitious flips in order to signify whether a character should go on a trip, one tends to recognize exactly the kind of adventure they’re about to go on. Having only viewed the Hong Kong Cut, I can’t imagine what one would remove in order to appease American audiences (it says International on the text, but other reports indicate this was mainly for American audiences who preferred a different kind of Chan film). The truth is, looking backward, the full film *is* a Chan film and it still works as a strong character piece for the other actors. Part of what makes it great, despite how Chan may be in real life, is how willing he is to make himself the fool on camera in order to give someone else shine. In Gorgeous, everyone shines and that’s what makes it so much fun.

Gorgeous Limited Edition:

  • Limited Edition O-Ring Slipcase with Matte Finish
  • Limited Edition 28 Page Booklet by Matthew Edwards
  • Limited Edition A3 Folded Travel Poster

Gorgeous Special Features:

  • 2K Transfers from Original Film Materials of the Hong Kong & International versions of the film
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Newly Translated English Subtitles
  • Hong Kong Version
:
  • Cantonese 5.1
  • Audio Commentary with Frank Djeng and FJ Desanto
  • Audio Commentary with Action Experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
  • International Version:
  • English 5.1
  • Cantonese 5.1
  • Audio Commentary with Jackie Chan
  • Shy Guy – Andy Cheng on Brad Allan
  • Interview with Director Vincent Kok
  • [Archive] The Making of Gorgeous
  • Music Video
  • Music Video 2
  • Hong Kong Trailer
  • English Trailer
  • Reversible cover with new artwork by Sean Longmore

Available on Blu-ray from 88 Films April 11th, 2023.

For more information or to purchase, head to MVD Entertainment Group.

Gorgeous cover art



Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews

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