Gorgeous is mostly a dull ride. Released in 1999, it was one of star Jackie Chan’s more notable Hong Kong productions following his international success with Rush Hour. Before he signed on, it was, in fact, a fairly simple romantic comedy; after that, fight scenes were added to take advantage of his cinematic claim to fame. However, there’s not much effort to help those fight scenes make sense in the context of the story, and they stick out like a (welcome) sore thumb amid the rest of the otherwise straightforward romantic misadventures.
Bu (Shu Qi) lives in a small Taiwanese village but dreams of the wider world. None of the potential suitors in her life thrills her. She wants nothing more than to run away and find love elsewhere. One night, she comes across a message in a bottle — a love note written by a wistful romantic equally desperate for their other half. Armed with nothing but her wits and a sense of wanderlust, Bu travels to Hong Kong to find the writer of the message, whom she knows in her heart must be her true love. Unfortunately, the writer was Albert (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), a gay man. But that’s OK. He lets her stay with him and quickly becomes her key ally in wooing C.N. Chan (Chan), a kind but lonely recycling billionaire who has never known true love.
There are a few problems with Gorgeous, first and foremost that Jackie Chan — in his mid-40s at the time — is totally unsuitable for the role of romantic bachelor. It isn’t so much his age or the attendant gap as it is his clear lack of interest in even pretending to be taken head over heels. One part of their meet-cute involves him feeding Bu in his apartment, where he watches her eat with paternal adoration. Their romance just doesn’t work, with his anti-chemistry dragging down the whole story.
In fact, the second glaring issue with Gorgeous is the story, which is nonsensical. I don’t mean logically; that doesn’t matter if some emotion exists. The problem is that there are two different plots, and neither offers complementary emotion to the other. Bu’s story and Chan’s corporate intrigue — in which he fights off the machinations of childhood rival Howie (Emil Chau) — don’t mesh well. It’s kind of a drag.
Except, of course, when Jackie Chan gets into physical scrapes, displaying the physical prowess and slapstick sensibilities for which he’s known. The two key combat sequences are boxing matches between Chan and Alan (Bradley James Allan). Allan is notable for being the first white team leader on Chan’s stunt team and later choreographing Hollywood blockbusters like Shang-Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings. He died a few years back in his mid-40s of an unspecified illness, a shocking loss. The fights in Gorgeous were Allan’s most high-profile on-camera fighting. Frankly, they’re great, and deserved space in a better movie. He and Chan are fast and fierce, sparring like two men who truly understand one another’s limits.
Those fights aside, the rest of the film is something of a drag. It’s probably worth owning for the dedicated Chan collector, but it is not one of his essential works.
- 2K transfers from original film materials of the Hong Kong and international versions, with 1080p HD presentation
- Newly translated English subtitles
- Hong Kong Version: Cantonese 5.1; audio commentary with Frank Djeng and F.J. Desanto; audio commentary with action experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
- International Version: English 5.1; Cantonese 5.1; audio commentary with Chan; Shy Guy — Andy Cheng on Brad Allen; interview with director Vincent Kok; The Making of Gorgeous; music videos; and trailers
- Reversible cover with new artwork by Sean Longmore