JAV Museum

Western review: No Limits (2003, Digital Playground)

This month, the porn industry and fans around the world were devastated by the news that the legend that is Jesse Jane had tragically passed away. As Joanna Angel reflected, she 'put the word “star” in porn star'. In memory of her, I decided to go back to the very start of her two-decades long career, to the film in which she made her debut.

Extract of the DVD cover, featuring jessica drake, Devon and Jesse Jane

No Limits is a 2003 film from studio Digital Playground, and was written and directed by Nic Andrews. In the lead role is Devon, who plays an office worker named Adrian. …Or is it Adrianne? The film can't seem to make up its mind. She's frustrated that despite working hard for her employer for many years, her superiors take all the credit for her efforts and she never gets a promotion. Meanwhile, her husband Robert (Cheyne Collins) is frustrated with her because she's always working and never spares time for him.

Adrian(ne), wearing a suit, eats a banana

One day, Robert treats Adrian(ne) to the "deluxe package" offered by a company called RCS. I only knew of "RCS" as the spiritual successor of SMS, but it turns out in this case it stands for "Relationship Counselling Services". She heads to their office where she is made to wait for hours in the lobby, before being asked to complete some very intrusive forms (one of the questions is "When do you masturbate?", to which Adrian(ne) answers "3 times a week"), without being given a clear answer as to what kind of services the company provides.

Adrian(ne) walks to the RCS office

They make her do lots of tests, including showing her various clips – some cute, some unsettling – before they start playing porn videos, to which she masturbates. Apparently this is all for insurance purposes. Very mysterious.

Adrian(ne) undergoes some sort of test in a dark room

It's all for naught anyway, for the next day, she receives a phone call (on her retro – even for 2003 – mobile phone complete with retractable antenna) from RCS, saying she is not eligible for their service as her insurance does not cover it. This puts Adrian(ne) in a really bad mood, which is made worse when she gets trapped in a lift at her workplace. Stuck in the lift with her, however, is Alex (jessica drake) – an alluring woman who explains why Adrian(ne)'s mobile phone won't work ("I think it's all the metal and everything") and helps her out of the lift's escape hatch and onto the floor above. I always get nervous about these scenes. What if the lift starts moving as you're going through the doors? I guess that one scene from the 2002 Resident Evil film traumatised me as a kid.

Alex, having climbed through the escape hatch on the roof of the lift, tries to encourage Adrian(ne) to join her

Anyway, Adrian(ne) now has a new friend in Alex, which is the only good thing that happens that day, which gets even worse when Adrian(ne) returns home to discover that her husband has been kidnapped and beaten up, and is being held to ransom. If she doesn't raise $100,000, Robert will be killed.

A man fires a rifle

I won't spoil the rest of the story, but there are lots of twists and turns that really kept me on the edge of my seat. It's rare to watch a porn film this gripping. Devon and drake are both incredible actors, and this film really shows off their talents.

Jennifer and Alex kiss

You'll notice that I haven't mentioned how Jesse Jane fits into the story. Well, to tell the truth, her role is rather small and relatively insignificant, though you'd be forgiven for assuming otherwise going by the cover. She plays a friend of Alex's named Jennifer, whom she makes out with in the office. That's it. She doesn't have a single line of dialogue and doesn't really add much to the story. It feels rather like she was just shoehorned in to give the film an extra sex scene.

Alex licks a glass sex toy, preparing to stick it into Jennifer

Her performance is… fine. There wasn't really much for her to work with given her small role, but she did it competently, and given it was seemingly her first ever scene, I should really applaud her. Honestly, it's pretty cool that she got to have her debut in such a big budget production.

A CG lift shaft

And it really is a big budget production. It has a massive cast, many elaborate sets, all kinds of props, CG shots of a lift shaft, fight scenes, pyrotechnics, stunts… they really went all out in a way that just wouldn't be done in today's climate.

A man sits with his head in an exploding television set

This is an incredible film in its own right, porn aside. Aside from Jane's tiny role, my only criticism is that there's a bit where Adrian(ne) asks Alex to come over to her place, and they act like she hadn't just been there a few moments ago. There were some other plot points that I thought didn't make sense, but it turns out they did in the end.

Adrian(ne)'s eyes wide open with a piece of tape covering her mouth

My other complaint is less to do with the film itself but that although it is purportedly available in 1920×1080 resolution, the picture itself is 1440×816, surrounded by a black border (which I cropped out in most of the images in this review). Even that smaller resolution seems to be an upscale from an even smaller image, which tends to flicker from time to time. There's also an annoying watermark in the corner. It would have been nice to be able to watch this in proper HD, especially given a lot of care seems to have been taken to create a visually impressive film. The credits reveal the use of lenses provided by Birns & Sawyer, and although the same is true for Tommy Wiseau's The Room, this film puts them to much better use.

A screenshot of the uncropped image, which is covered by lines

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which I wholeheartedly recommend. Of course, there were probably better choices to commemorate Jesse Jane, given her minuscule role in this production. If you want to see her in a more significant role, I suggest checking out Fighters, Nurses, or of course Pirates.

Jennifer looking around a dark office

May Jesse Jane rest in peace. My thoughts go out to her family and friends.

★★★★★ 5/5