The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion

The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion (2001)
Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Cast: Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, Charlize Theron
Extras: Filmographies, Production Notes, Trailer

For some reason Dreamworks Home Entertainment completely underplayed their 2001 comedy ’The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion.’ Almost unadvertised the film was entirely overlooked at the box office and even for its home video debut, Dreamworks would not put any focus or attention on this title. As a matter of fact, the studio did not even send out auto-screeners for this new Woody Allen comedy, almost as if they wouldn’t want people to know about it. It is surprising, as they do indeed have a little gem on their hands there that is shamefully overlooked.

Woody Allen plays C. W. Briggs, an insurance investigator during the 1940s. He is infamous for being able to crack even the most difficult cases of insurance fraud. In the office his new superior Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt) is making his life difficult however. Brought on as an innovator she has radical ideas how to improve workflow, organize data and solve cases, threatening to eradicate Briggs’ position altogether. Suddenly they are both confronted by the most baffling case of their careers when some of the most valuable jewelry in town disappears without a trace. Will Briggs be able to solve this mystery with all the pressures around him?

Dreamworks Home Entertainment presents ’The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion’ in a beautiful 16×9 enhanced widescreen transfer in the movie’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The presentation is very sharp, detailed and absolutely clean and free of defects, grain or other blemishes. The warm color palette used throughout the movie is perfectly restored and bathes the screen in the nostalgic settings that Allen conjures up. Blacks are very deep and never break up, helping immensely to give the movie a noir feel at times, perfect to underscore the gumshoe atmosphere that is inherent in the material. No notable signs of edge-enhancement are evident and the compression is also without flaws, making it a flawless presentation.

The DVD contains a the movie’s original mono audio track. Woody Allen is well known for his minimalist approach to filmmaking and it is often reflected in his decision to deliver monaural tracks. However, they are usually well done and in this case, you will hardly ever notice the lack of spatial integration. It is the cohesiveness of the whole that drives Allen’s movies and ’The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion’ makes no exception. The audio is clear and always understandable. Dialogue is never drowned out and sound effects are very well balanced, while the smooth, jazzy score furnishes the ambiance, complete with some charming oriental undertones.

Hardly surprising the disc doesn’t’ contain many extras and you will only find the obligatory filmographies, production notes and the movie’s trailer.

I am not sure why Dreamworks is so underexposing ’The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion.’ The film is full of Allen’s witty humor, his quirky characters and an intriguing story that is despite its seeming obviousness, full of surprises and humorous encounters. Don’t let Dreamworks’ negligence fool you. This film is a gem and you should definitely check out this DVD!