Jackie Chan’s American movies are nowhere near as exhilarating as his Hong Kong work, but the man possesses so much charm and physical prowess that he manages to breathe some life into the most tired action comedies (see: Rush Hour or to a lesser extent, Shanghai Noon). That is, until now: “The Tuxedo” is so stupendously inane that it manages to nullify Jackie’s natural charisma.
Chan plays Jimmy Tong, the new chauffeur of playboy millionaire and CSA secret agent Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). When Devlin is blown out of service by a skateboard bomb (don’t ask), Tong puts on his boss’ 2 billion dollar Armani tuxedo and suddenly becomes a killing machine (or more accurately, a bruising machine, this is a PG-13 flick after all) and sets out to save the world, with rookie agent Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) as a partner.
What anyone saw in Michael J. Wilson and Michael Leeson’s screenplay, I do not know. I guess the basic premise could make for an enjoyable enough kids movie, kind of an Inspector Gadget/James Bond hybrid, but the way that idea is handled is consistently idiotic and unimaginative. For nearly half an hour, Tong does nothing but drive and act as a bumbling, insecure weakling. This is meant to contrast with when he finally puts on the tuxedo and becomes as smooth as it gets, but the tux scenes don’t work much more. What’s the fun in a hero who’s not in control of his body? There’s no tension, as we know the tux will make him beat every assailant and survive every fall. Even when Tong loses the tux, the film doesn’t follow through with the “it was in you all along” cliché and show that Tong can be a hero without the suit. Instead, he just happens to find another tux and we’re in for more of the same gimmicky crap.
Then you’ve got Ritchie Coster as the villain, who has the most retarded evil scheme: infiltrating the world’s water reservoirs with insects carrying a deadly bacteria, forcing everyone to buy bottled water. Despite numerous boring exposition scenes, the movie never explains how this could make sense. As for the comedy, the less said about it the better. Someone apparently thinks that the idea of Jackie Chan dancing is hilarious, so we get countless scenes of him “shaking his booty”, which is mildly amusing at first but loses its novelty quickly. Then you’ve got tons of immature, witless sex farce, most of it having to do with J-Lo Hewitt’s cleavage. Tee hee. I’ll give the film one thing, having Jackie Chan in a Hooters shirt and with a soul patch on his chin is pretty funny.
“The Tuxedo” is the feature film debut of Kevin Donovan, a commercial director best known for “I. AM. Canadian.” beer ad. That ad made an impression, but what directing skill do you need to point a camera at a guy on a stage ranting about how he’s proud of being Canadian? In the movie, Donovan screws up scene after scene. With the lousy script he had to work with, I can understand that most of the film would drag, but how can you make Jackie Chan fights boring? Donovan manages that by editing them to death with no rhythm or logic. And even when he holds a shot long enough for us to see what Jackie is doing, most of it is special effects. Aren’t the filmmakers aware that the appeal of Chan is in how fast and graceful guy he is? I know he’s getting old, but I’m sure he can still be impressive without the use of wires.
“The Tuxedo” has got to be the worst Jackie Chan vehicle I’ve seen. There’s clearly something wrong when the bloopers reel is more fun than the actual movie.