DreamWorks Distribution | Release Date: August 24, 2001
6.4
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Generally favorable reviews based on 24 Ratings
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4
J-ShapSep 1, 2011
It looks nice, and that's about it. The dialogue and one-liners are rather dry and limp compared to Allen's previous films, and whatever potential it has is wasted due to Allen ironically being miscast in his own film. This would haveIt looks nice, and that's about it. The dialogue and one-liners are rather dry and limp compared to Allen's previous films, and whatever potential it has is wasted due to Allen ironically being miscast in his own film. This would have benefited from a younger, or at least different actor in Allen's role (perhaps Tom Hanks). Above all, Jade Scorpion is a rather insincere and ill-conceived homage. Expand
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6
SpangleOct 9, 2016
If Woody Allen made 1940s film noir, it would have looked a lot like The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Though infused with his general brand of humor, the look, feel, and characters, are straight out of a noir film. That said, The Curse of theIf Woody Allen made 1940s film noir, it would have looked a lot like The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Though infused with his general brand of humor, the look, feel, and characters, are straight out of a noir film. That said, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is certainly a lesser entry in his large filmography. While funny and quirky to the max, its too neat ending and cliche romantic element really undermine what could have been a charming crime comedy from the legendary director.

The film's strength is in its comedy. Woody Allen plays his typical neurotic and thoroughly odd character as C.W. Briggs, an insurance investigator. When paired up with Helen Hunt, a tough-nosed efficiency expert named Betty Ann Fitzgerald, the comedy gold keeps coming. With quick and witty banter between the two that often borders of some type of odd flirting, the duo have killer chemistry and the end result is terrific comedic banter. The insults lodged at one another do sometimes miss, but for the most part, the jokes land.

The crime mystery element of this one is also solid and thoroughly unexpected. While we know who is responsible, the film does have tension as you wait for everybody to figure this out. In this way, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is a terrific example of dramatic irony. The film is 90% dramatic irony and it proves to be both funny and tense throughout. Admittedly, this is not a general plotline I have seen before where a hypnotist comes into play to this degree, but it does provide some good moments of tension, even if his plan falls through. As a criminal, his plan is obvious.

The biggest way in which the film is influenced by classic noir has to be in Charlize Theron's character. The costume design certainly shows influence, but it is clear that Theron's Laura Kensington is designed to be a femme fatale to a certain degree. She admittedly does not fit the role fully, but her makeup, hairstyling, costume, sensualness, and heavy smoking certainly made me notice the reference. That said, she does not necessarily lead her lover (Woody Allen lol) into dangerous situations, but she certainly does not help.

On the negative side, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is held back by the ending. Trying to be more romantic than it is, the romance that blossoms here is never truly believable, though wholly telegraphed. I cannot tell if they meant to hide it or not, but my guess is that it was supposed to be a surprise. Instead, it makes the ending feel truly cheesy. The ending felt incredibly rushed and things come together quite quickly and behind the scenes before we see our criminal get his just desserts. For a film that did the comedy and mystery elements so well, the shoehorned in romance and quick resolution to the crime just did not fit and made the ending feel incredibly flat.

Overall, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is an incredibly fun film. With Allen's trademark humor and his trademark character, it is an effective comedy and mystery. Largely dismissed by critics and even Allen himself as one of his worst works, I do really like The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Though a lesser work of his, it showcases what he does well and gives a hint as to what a noir film from the comedy legend would look and feel like.
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