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Jade (2024) Review

Jade begins with an animated sequence telling us that Jade and her brother Brandon came to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico after their parents were murdered in London. Why or by whom they were killed isn’t explained. Nor is exactly how they ended up in a street gang, or how that led to Jade accidentally killing her brother, made clear. But whatever the reason, she’s sworn never to use a gun again.

Once the film turn to live action, we see Jade (Shaina West, Black Widow, The Woman King) dropping in to see Layla (Katherine McNamara, The Arrow, Assimilate) who is not happy to see her. That might be because the baby she’s carrying will never know its father, thanks to Jade’s errant bullet.

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As if that isn’t enough for her to deal with, she soon finds herself the reluctant guardian of a digital drive wanted by some very dangerous men who work for Tork (Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler, Angel Heart), the kind of businessman you would expect to be played by Mickey Rourke. How dangerous are these guys? At one point, they’re trying to beat the location of the drive out of somebody. When he resists repeated punches and a hammer to his knees, they’re ruthless enough to squeeze a lemon onto his face. When he resists that kind of brutality, they know they can’t break him, so they kill him instead.

Announced in 2021 for a 2022 release, Jade was stuntman (Deep Rising, Apollo 18) turned director James Bamford’s first feature, having been shot before the recently released Air Force One Down. Why did it beat it to release? The script, cowritten by Bamford, Lynn Colliar and Glenn Ennis (Gnome Alone) is largely to blame. For starters, the dialogue is, at best, stilted and at worst painful to listen to. Why use six insults when you can stuff a full dozen into a sentence, it makes the characters so much tougher, right?

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The film also can’t decide if it wants to be a straight-up action film, or some kind of comedy. At one point, Jade ends a fight by slashing her opponent’s throat. The blood spray on the wall suddenly spells out “FATALITY” while a voice-over announces it Mortal Kombat style. At another, the translation of what someone says in Spanish appears on the wall as they talk, rather than in subtitles. There’s even a kill count thrown up on the screen for viewers who are into statistics.

The same is true of the way the action scenes are shot. Some are fairly straight forward, letting the performers show off their skills. Others are so full of sped up, slowed down or jerkily edited footage and accompanied by a song as if they’re part of a video game or music video. Or it’s just plain silly, at one point, Jade kills someone by throwing her Afro comb like a shuriken.

It’s too bad because when Bamford simply films the fights without any gimmicks they’re not bad. West certainly has the moves to be convincing in a fight, and unless age has caught up to him in a big way, Mark Dacascos (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Blade of the 47 Ronin) doesn’t need any help staging a convincing brawl. He has a small role as Reese, who was a friend of Jade’s parents, “INTERPOL? Dad said you owned a gym.”, and his one fight scene is ruined by these non-stop gimmicks.

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What is on the hard drive? In one final fuck you to the audience, Bamford never reveals it, or what the implied connection between it and the death of Jade’s brother is. Instead, we get an ending that’s supposed to be cynical, but is just stupid.

Overall, Jade is a major misfire, it stages more action scenes than films with a larger budget then ruins them with outdated and overused camera trickery.

Jade is available on Netflix in some South American countries. If it hasn’t found its way to your location yet, consider yourself fortunate.

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