Someone does a nasty hatchet job on a San Francisco big shot and the Assistant D.A. takes charge of the investigation. Through a web of blackmail and prostitution involving the Governor, an old lover of the lawman emerges as a prime suspect and he has to deal with his personal feelings as well as the case.
12 Mar Jade (1995)
I think this may have been successful in its day, simply because of the sex. There is the appearance of some sex acts on the screen presented in a couple voyuerist contexts, but I think the target was a much deeper appeal: a whole world driven by insatiable, conventionally deviant female sex drive. The writer had previously cashed in with this idea and Hollywood chose to try again but with a real director.
This formula isn’t just about sex, its about turning the noir mechanics on its head. Noir depends on an outside fate that arbitrarily throws strangers together in situations that are designed for and controlled by the values of watching, outside the world of the action.
Here, everyone knows each other beforehand. There are essentially no strangers. The driving force is supernatural as in noir, but it is rooted in and owned by the people we see. Its simple sexual desire, lust.
The story is ordinary, the sex unconvincingly simulated. Even the automotive stunts are limp. There’s some craft in how it is put together visually though, enough to keep me engaged.
But there is one remarkable feature. The score is hypnotising. It is bicameral, both halves based on prototypical themes. The male theme: lustful, uncontrollable and apt to be violent is from (almost directly) Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Its wildly erotic, threatening, dangerous. The female side (until the end that is) is a Celtic anthem, soft, passive, receptive, drifting.
I do not ever recall something so directly cast, so borrowed and yet so effective. I saw this close to a film (‘Duel at Diablo’) where the score was literally canned bits from old movies and the dialog all dubbed. This part is fun, and much more tantalisingly erotic than what you will see.
Posted in 2009
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.