William Friedkin's Jade (1995) makes its Blu-Ray debut this week (though, sadly, not in the unrated director's cut). Most people probably don't care much. It was a huge flop and the critics were flat-out mean to it. Much of the reason for its reception was the screenplay by the highly paid and much-reviled screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. His Showgirls had been released just a month prior, and critics were beginning to see him as something less than a super-scribe and more like a super-hack with some demented attitudes toward women. Ultimately, Showgirls became a cult classic, but Jade languished and disappeared.
It's hard to make much of a case for Jade as a masterpiece, but it deserves better than it got. My friend Bob Stephens took a crack at defending it in the pages of the San Francisco Examiner when it was initially released on video in 1996. He noted the film's use of masks as a visual and symbolic metaphor, and also appreciated many of Friedkin's brilliant juxtaposing shots, such as moving from a trail of blood to a shot of an empty dinner jacket hovering above a party in the film's opening minutes. (A soul leaves the body.) Hopefully a new generation of fans will take a look at this neglected movie on Blu-Ray and find similar things to admire.