Message in a Bottle

Odd as this sounds to write (and certainly to read), Gorgeous is the only Jackie Chan film where the fights feel forced rather than the crime-laden storyline. In battling rival Bradley James Allan, Jackie Chan spends numerous minutes on screen brawling, but it’s a superfluous scrum. Gorgeous is just a rom com, but a creative one.

The same year as Gorgeous, Warner Brothers released Message in a Bottle, an odd coincidence, but only one shows a clear drive toward doing something off-the-wall (Gorgeous, obviously). Here a young, naive Taiwanese woman travels to Hong Kong after discovering a bottled love letter, happens upon the single gay man who wrote it, and through contrivance, finds Chan. Insert mobster underworld dynamics, surging stock prices, and environmental awareness too – Gorgeous isn’t a mere genre piece.

Gorgeous plays up the nonsensical love story, told and delivered with heart

For the US market, Miramax cut Gorgeous down, getting to the few fight scenes faster. Ones against Allan serve as a highlight, but another with dueling baseball bats is another spectacle. Impatient US audiences, fueled by Rush Hour, demanded kicks, and that’s what they got.

In its original form, Gorgeous plays up the nonsensical love story, told and delivered with heart, Chan playing a womanizing, uber-rich recycling giant, toying with a stock market bubble that’s soon to burst. That slice cuts through Hong Kong’s ballooning late ‘90s expansion, but Gorgeous remains steadfast in providing a kooky, entertaining romance. Chan has no issue playing against the charming Shu Qi, a delightfully chipper 20-something cozying up to a then 40-something Chan without any odd vibes.

Both sides hide truths from another, Qi suggesting she dated a mafia kingpin, Chan knowing that’s a lie for the duration. That leads to a formulaic break-up, but at least this gives some cause – however menial – to Chan’s fight against Alan. It’s a matter of self-respect and growth, plus teaching Chan how to let his stoic side down. To see these two work is all joy, equal to the forced action scenes in terms of cinematic skill. While not Chan’s best, it’s better than his crummy output that came to define his early ‘00s resume, and arguably his last golden era effort.


88 Films includes both the Hong Kong cut and International versions. The international edition looks awful, pulled from an SD master at best. Stick to the Hong Kong cut, showing a far more recent master, if also imperfect. Ringing can prove bothersome, especially in wider shots. Grain messily resolves as a result, but the encode holds up under similar scrutiny.

Moderate resolution handles a routine level of definition. Gorgeous veers soft, and there’s a slight filter at work too. Again, medium and long shots show the worst of it, but otherwise, texture can break through in close.

The real boon comes from the color, exceptionally bright, pure, and glossy. In places, Gorgeous nears oversaturation, but those reds and yellows make a firm statement.

Note the CG elements only reach SD quality no matter which cut, and that will show some aliasing in brief spurts.


Both cuts utilize DTS-HD 5.1 tracks. The international version includes a dub; the Hong Kong version does not. Mixing spreads the music wide, creating a pleasingly strong soundstage. Inside the karaoke bar, ambient chatter from drunkards fills the rears and stereos. It’s convincing.

Music drops loose, muddy bass when peaked. Otherwise, Gorgeous’ range stays flat.


Commentaries come in triplicate. Jackie Chan handles the English cut, while Frank Djeng and FJ Desanto handle the Hong Kong one. Plus, genre experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema pop in on another track. The first featurette has Andy Cheng speaking on Brad Allan, then Vincent Kok speaks on the film itself. A vintage featurette, music videos, and trailers finish up.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Gorgeous has a lot of fun with romantic comedy cliches and mixing them with a goofy mob flick.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 43 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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