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Curse of the Jade Scorpion - 2001
Im Bann des Jade Skorpions
Genre: Comedy / Mystery
Run Time: 103 minutes
Set in 1940 Manhattan, C.W. Briggs (Woody Allen) is a fraud insurance detective who cracks nearly every case with sheer luck and ingenious instinct. He is admired by his co-workers, which includes Dan Aykroyd as his professional boss Magruder and Jill (Elizabeth Berkley), a secretary who lets someone rub her chest as long as they bring a ring. Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt) is the sole staffer who is not enamored by Briggs. She has been hired by the company to make it more efficient and workmanlike. In fact, Fitgerald considers consolidating the private detective agency.
She dislikes Briggs and sees him as vermin, as a dinosaur (there are probably as many synonyms used to describe Woody Allen negatively in this film than in others). Briggs hates her too, which obviously leads to a eventual romance. One night at a birthday party, Briggs and Fitzgerald are asked to participate in a magic act by the great Voltan (David Ogden Stiers). They are placed in a trance where the names like Madagasgar and Constantinople are uttered, and where they are apparently lovers. Once snapped out of the trance, Briggs continues to dispise Fitzgerald. However, precious jewels begin to disappear from wealthy estates and Briggs might be a prime suspect thanks to the trance-like powers of the great Voltan.
With The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Woody Allen pays another visit to his idealized past, and his retro blend of humor and nostalgia will surely satisfy the filmmaker's most loyal fans. Like The Purple Rose of Cairo, Radio Days, and Sweet and Lowdown, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is physically impeccable: its period-perfect costumes and sets capture 1940 New York with splendid authenticity and are further enhanced by the burnished glow of Zhao Fei's cinematography.
And like those earlier films, Jade Scorpion mines comedic gold from its timeframe, molding it into a plot laced with expert zingers that could only spring from a keen awareness of comedic tradition. Add an appealing roster of costars (including Elizabeth Berkley and Charlize Theron) and you've got vintage Woody that perks right along.
The movie's also as trivial as it is engaging; hack off 30 minutes and it might have had the delirious precision of early Marx Brothers classics. Instead, Allen's goofy conceit--enemies falling in love by hypnotic suggestion--is stretched to absurdity when efficiency expert Betty Ann "Fitz" Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt) is hypnotically attracted to seasoned insurance investigator C.W. Briggs (Allen), despite their office enmity. Plus, a jewel-heist caper masterminded by the nightclub hypnotist (David Ogden Stiers) casts them both as suspects! Woody harvests a bumper crop of old-fashioned laughs from this predicament, and despite their conspicuous age difference and occasional awkward delivery, Hunt and Allen exchange volleys of dialogue like a seasoned comedy team. Dan Aykroyd is also good in a stodgy supporting role, but Jade Scorpion remains a mixed blessing--a welcomed throwback to comedy's yesteryear, from a master funnyman who's struggling to maintain relevance in the present.
Budget: $26m (USA)
Gross:$7.496m (USA), ITL 7,015,642,000 (Italy)
EUR 4,896,417 (Spain)
Production Dates: October 8, 2001 - ?
Release Date: August 5, 2001 (Hollywood Film Festival), September 1, 2001 (Venice Film Festival), August 24, 2001 (USA), September 28, 2001 (Italy), December 5, 2001 (France), December 6, 2001 (Germany), February 27, 2002 (Belguim), August 16, 2002 (Finland), December 6, 2002 (UK)