Picks and Pans Review: Jade

updated 10/30/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/30/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, Chazz Palminteri

This convoluted, sex-obsessed mystery will make sense only to those willing to concede the all-time world femme fatale title to Fiorentino, and even they will wish there were footnotes instead of credits at the end of the film. (Almost the whole cast swarms onscreen more or less to resolve the questions of who has been using Fiorentino to sexually blackmail prominent Northern Californians and who has escalated the business into murder.)

Since this film was written by Joe Eszterhas, the one-man Michelin guide to sexual excess, Fiorentino is a high-octane sex machine whose love-making proclivities are peculiar enough to make her partners vulnerable to blackmail. Her affairs also enrage her jealous husband, Palminteri, a successful defense lawyer. Most of the film is consumed by the conflicted relationships between Fiorentino, her husband and their old mutual friend Caruso (apparently Fiorentino's ex-lover), who is also a district attorney investigating the murders inspired by Fiorentino's friskiness.

Neither Eszterhas nor director William Friedkin seems overly concerned with clarifying the plot, which also involves Richard Crenna as a none-too-scrupulous governor, Michael Biehn as a querulous cop and model Angie Everhart as a hooker who is a potential murder witness. Real-life San Francisco cop Kenny King competently plays Caruso's D.A. partner.

The climactic scene, which takes place in the darkened Palminteri-Fiorentino home, leaves an unsatisfying feeling.

To look on the bright side, this movie makes more sense and is less offensive than Eszterhas's other current film Showgirls. But then that could be said of Debbie Does Dallas too.

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