On my 97 half doors, the outside door handle was moving the mechanism inside the door, but not moving it ENOUGH.
For reference, this would be a pic of your drivers door mechanism.
There is a metal clip on the threaded rod.
The metal clip was easy to pop off the threaded rod - moved it about 1/4" toward the door latch and clipped it back on and now the opening mechanism has its full range of movement.
The arrow shows where the metal clip was before I moved it.