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Chinatown 50th Anniversary 4K                       review by Bobby Blakey

Over the last couple of years Paramount has been re-releasing films from their library through their Paramount Presents brand. Their latest is the 1974 film classic Chinatown starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston. Instead of the usual Blu-ray this one is getting the awesome 4K treatment and includes the sequel The Two Jakes in one great set. 

Chinatown follows private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-war Southern California who is hired by a beautiful socialite to investigate her husband's extra-marital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits, uncovering a web of personal and political scandals that come crashing together for one, unforgettable night.

Like many of these classic films there are ones I swear I have seen and then discover I have not. This is one of them and I realized why. It is a brilliantly crafted film noir complete with a striking visual to create a feel for the period it is working on. My issue is that it isn’t overly exciting or compelling for a lot of the run time, with it finally finding some of its footing in the last act. It 

fully embraces the classic noir detective genre complete with narration that works to enhance the overall aesthetic of the film’s story.

The performances are great across the board with Nicholson carrying the load to bring this classic character to life. AS perfect as this film is it is still dated and doesn’t fully hold up all that well for me. I was engaged in it for most of the run but left a little disappointed when the final credits rolled. I fully see and embrace the importance of the film and wish I had seen it years ago, but sadly fell short for me. Despite my own issues with the film I am still glad it is getting the love it deserves with this release to get it shared to a new audience.  

The Two Jakes follows L.A. private eye Jake Gittes who is hired by realtor Jake Berman. He proves the infidelity of Berman's wife Kitty and sets up a way for her to be caught in the act. At the rendezvous, Berman shoots the co-respondent who turns out to be his business partner. Gittes finds himself in the middle of a complicated web, under pressure from all sides for a wire recording of the fatal encounter. He then realizes that the land the partners were developing was once an orange grove connected with a case that he has never quite gotten over.

I remember seeing this poster pop up when I worked in a video store. The 1990 sequel to Chinatown was not only a journey back to the character of Gittes for Nicholson, but also his return to the director’s chair. I knew of it, but honestly never knew it was connected to Chinatown or ever saw it. I rather enjoyed this one actually more than the first film, but it is all over the place and kind of a mess.

Bringing the same style as the original except for the updated color palate, it works well as a follow complete with bringing in numerous familiar faces from the previous film. The story weaves the familiar tapestry of murder, intrigue and twists and turns fully connecting the previous story in the end which I really enjoyed. It gets lost on too many extra components that serve no purpose to further the narrative and an uneven plot that makes it hard to stick with it at times. In the end, like the original it brings it all together with something that works well enough and made me wish I could have seen Nicholson in that role again, but sadly that third planned film never happened.  

In addition to the two films this release offers up plenty of new and old bonus features including commentary, trailer, featurettes and so much more. Grab your copy of this classic film available now on 4K for the first time ever from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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