The plinky plonky music tells us that this is a sorta fairytale, and should anyone still be in doubt, that will change when you hear the voice of Shu Qi, telling a sweet story about a pair of lovers, dolphins and other fluffy things. Having thus established the tone of the film, "Gorgeous" moves on to tell a sweet love story where Jackie Chan gets to play a millionaire with a heart of gold, who must woo Shu Qi, and earn her love in order to save himself. Not your average run of the mill Jackie Chan action feast then.
Chan is introduced a full 15 minutes into the story, and there are only four fights in total. The first fight doesn't even occur until 26 minutes into the story. I can't imagine action-hungry Jackie Chan fans sitting still for that long, without losing their patience. But I also can't image Jackie Chan caring. He was clearly trying to make something different with this film, something that would appeal to other than his die hard fans, so it's not really fair to compare it to his previous outings. Fair enough, but that means it's more relevant to compare it to other romantic comedies. So how does it fare next to those? Not too good.
Despite Chan and Shu Qi's charm, a ton of cameos, and a lot of funny moments, the story simply moves too slow (I have yet to see the 20 minute shorter American version, but it might just be better). Part of the reason is that the film is as straight as an arrow, right down to good guy Chan being an environmentally conscious multi millionaire (yeah, right) and wearing white all the time, while his boxing opponent wears black. In addition to that, everybody's nice to each other (even the bad guy), everyone reacts the way you'd think they would, and everyone becomes friends in the end.
Not a single scene in the film takes an unexpected turn. Meaning that the story plays out - on a scene by scene basis - one hundred percent predictably.
There are two of Chan's signature fight scenes in "Gorgeous". The first one takes place on the boat in the beginning, and the second one features four hoodlums attacking our hero with baseball bats. The latter is another fine example of Chan's abilities - despite being one against four, he somehow manage to end up with all four bats!
On top of these two scenes, there are also two kickboxing scenes (I'm calling the style "kickboxing", though I'm not sure that's actually correct). Chan fights a guy called Bradley James Allan, who looks like a young Skeet Ulrich. According to IMDb he is the first non-Asian member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, and he certainly handles himself very well against Chan. These action scenes are shot Hong Kong style, the way Chan usually does, with large shots and few cuts, so we can see all the moves properly. Perfect.
But now comes trouble. Except for these four scenes, there are NO other action scenes in the movie! So actually what we have here is a sweet romantic comedy, erhm... with four hardcore action scenes stuck into the plot.
Unsurprisingly Shu Qi is absolutely adorable in this film. She overacts in almost every single scene. Her expressions and mannerisms are in fact so over the top she sometimes resembles a live action version of those familiar animé characters with huge eyes. Despite this - or perhaps because of it - she's still hopelessly charming, and fittingly she's never looked more gorgeous. Even Jackie Chan can't help himself. Every time he looks at her, he's got this goofy grin on his face.
"Gorgeous" is not the best showcase for her abilities. I'm aware that she came up though the ranks, largely because she does these types of roles so well, but seeing as this is a Jackie Chan movie, and he needs all the support he can get, perhaps it would have been better, if she'd been given a juicier part.
And speaking of Chan. It almost goes without saying that he really isn't a very good actor. He's not totally clueless, but he does stick to playing the same character in every single film I've seen him in. I know should probably hate that, but actually I don't, because he's so damn likeable. The same goes for his performance in "Gorgeous". Still, being the writer of the film himself, Chan has overlooked a glaring omission: His character doesn't have a serious flaw. Sure he spends too much time at work (don't we all?), but that's about it. Other than that his character is perfect, and that is, quite frankly, just plain boring.
Jackie Chan wanted to make a different kind of film, but he was afraid to go all the way, and the result is somewhat of a paradox. Even the outtakes during the end credits are not up to his normal standards. Not a single one of them shows a stunt gone wrong, which in itself is quite telling. One funny moment, though: You do get to see Chan practice his runway walk with Shu Qi.
At one point Bu asks CN: "Do you love me?". In a hardcore drama about the difficulties people face when they encounter love in a modern world, such a question has more than one possible answer. But in a romantic comedy only one answer will suffice. The fact that "Gorgeous" is a film in conflict with itself, is nowhere clearer illustrated than in the way CN responds to that question. He doesn't. He simply doesn't answer. And that's just not good enough.
Before Jackie Chan decides to make another one of these films, he's gonna have to find out if he's a fighter or a lover. I suspect that he's the former, and that's okay. You go on out and save the world, Jackie. Leave the loving to those who know what that really means.