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The Tuxedo
"Check out my Bill Clinton impression."     "Now this is a urine sample!"

Jackie Chan (left) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (right) grapple with The Tuxedo.
  Year: 2002    
  Director: Kevin Donovan
  Cast: Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Issacs, Ritchie Coster, Debi Mazar, Brian Rhodes, Larissa Laskin, Peter Stormare, James Brown  
The Skinny: Jackie Chan's latest would-be US blockbuster has some amusing moments and is certainly eager-to-please. It's also disjointed, nonsensical, and completely throwaway. Chan still has great comic charm, but it can't save The Tuxedo.  
by Kozo:
     Since he's getting older, The Tuxedo could be a preview of Jackie Chan's future. This is a high-concept action comedy which relies just as much on special effects and wirework as Chan's (fading) athleticism and boyish charm. The result is an occasionally entertaining dumb-a-thon which should please kids and fans of co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt. However, Jackie Chan fans could be disappointed, as the lame script and silly antics are ill-fitting to Chan's comic charm. This isn't a good vehicle for Jackie Chan, though it would be a terrific one for Rob Schneider.
     Chan plays Jimmy Tong, a nice guy taxi driver who lacks the confidence to score with the ladies. Still, his daredevil driving gets him a job with Clark Devlin (Jason Issacs), a suave secret agent who takes a shine to Jimmy's good guy ways. Jimmy is jealous of Devlin's way with the ladies, so Devlin gives him this advice: 90% of his success is the suit, and 10% is what's inside. And according to Devlin, Jimmy has that 10% - he just needs the proper suit to bring that out.
     Jimmy gets his chance when Devlin gets hospitalized in an assasination attempt. He tries on Devlin's tuxedo, which is a high-tech supersuit which gives the wearer numerous superhuman functions, i.e. martial arts, wall-climbing, and even the ability to imitate James Brown. Determined to help out Devlin, Jimmy meets up with fledgling NSA agent Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt of TV's "Party of Five"), and the two embark on an adventure which is 25% action, 25% comedy, and 50% mystifyingly insipid. Fans of Jackie Chan: if you thought Drunken Master 2 was the best Jackie Chan film ever then The Tuxedo could cause internal hemorrhaging.
     The concept of The Tuxedo is sound in a high-tech kiddie kind-of-way (think Inspector Gadget with fan service), but it flies directly in the face of Chan's usual modus operandi. Thanks to the tuxedo's super abilities, everything Chan does is assisted by computer graphics and wirework. His physical comedy is spot on, especially when the tuxedo makes Jimmy do things against his will, but the straight up fighting looks - and is - supremely fake. Quite frankly, anyone could have been the guy in the suit, which might have been a good idea since the script itself is not tailored to Chan's specific screen persona. Chan's considerable comic charm seems ill-fitting to the main character, who probably should have been played by someone who looks and acts like a bigger dope than Chan does.
     The script doesn't even require Chan, because it's so nonsensical and weightless that anyone (and we do mean anyone) could have starred in the film. Even more, the script is given to incredibly silly plot devices that make suspension of disbelief unlikely. It's impossible to take anything that goes on in The Tuxedo seriously, because it's all so patently ridiculous. This includes Jennifer Love Hewitt's completely unbelievable government agent, the incredibly poor security measures of the US government, and bad guys who couldn't threaten insects let alone anyone else. In defense of the filmmakers, it's clear that The Tuxedo was never intended to be serious in any way. However, intention to create a superflous and soulless product doesn't change the fact that the product is just that: superflous and soulless.
      Of bigger concern would be Jackie Chan's future in America. While Shanghai Knights looks to be a worthy Chan pic, and the Around the World in 80 Days remake sounds promising on paper, The Tuxedo seems to indicate that Chan is not above making projects that deviate from his tried-and-true formula. Admittedly, Chan gave up a lot of his creative control for the chance to work with Steven Spielberg (the mega head honcho of Dreamworks), but is he happy with the resulting picture? And what about his hardcore fans?
     As said before, undemanding kids should find the film a hoot, and fans of Jennifer Love Hewitt should be delighted with all the script references and screen time given to her breasts. I can't say that the film didn't provide some amusement, because it did - however inconsequential and low-brow that it was. Still, The Tuxedo is an ill-fitting showcase for Jackie Chan, and I would never have seen the film if it weren't for him. And since I'm not a kid or a hardcore Jennifer Love Hewitt fan, for me The Tuxedo can only be an unqualified disappointment. (Kozo 2002)
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Dreamworks Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
English Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Gag Reel, Featurette

images courtesy of Dreamworks SKG Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen