The Tuxedo (2002)

Country: United States
Directed by Kevin Donovan
Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Ritchie Coster, Peter Stormare, James Brown
Music by John Debney, Christophe Beck

Jackie Chan’s career can be broken up in to two distinct parts – his Hong Kong work which is pretty good, and his American work which isn’t. The Tuxedo is one of the American productions, and as hard as he tries, poor old Jackie just can’t carry this sort of crap. This film also proves that no matter how hard Jennifer Love Hewitt tries, she’ll never be a comedienne.

The film begins with CSA Agent Wallace in a water bottling plant owned by Banning Industries. He has been working on an operation called ‘Big Drip’ and must have found out something serious, because he urgently puts through a call to CSA headquarters on his mobile. Before he can relay this super-vital piece of information, from above a guy puts a clear plastic bag over Wallace’s head. This isn’t any normal plastic bag. It happens to have a hose attached at the back, and just when you think the poor bloke is going to suffocate a torrent of water rushes in and Wallace ends up drowning. Wallace falls to the ground dead. The evil minion who executed Wallace stands over the dead body and says ‘Aqua La Vista, Baby!’ – I am sure you all get the bad pun, but for younger readers not familiar with the work and immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s a play on the line ‘Hasta La Vista Baby,’ from Terminator 2.

So what have we got so far? A dead CSA agent you was working on ‘Operation Big Drip’ (it’s hardly ‘Thunderball’) and a villain who makes bad puns. From the two minute mark of the movie, you can clearly see the line that this movie is taking – broad comedy – which is a shame, because the villains plan in this film is really quite good. It’s a pity that they wrapped it up in a goofball comedy. But back to the plot. We haven’t even seen Jackie yet!

Jackie plays a love struck, tongue tied taxi driver named Jimmy Tong. When we first meet him, he is standing outside an art gallery, staring at the beautiful girl who works within. As he watches, he practices his introduction line. Finally he works up the courage to go in and ask her to dinner, but he freezes and makes a fool of himself.

He returns to his cab outside and finds that there is a passenger waiting inside. She gives Jimmy an address and says that if he can make it to the destination before she finishes putting on her makeup, she’ll pay him double the amount shown on the meter. Jimmy puts the pedal to the metal and weaves his way through the congested New York streets. He makes it on time, and not only collects a big fare, he also collects a new job. The lady offers him a position as the chauffeur to the mysterious Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). Devlin is a James Bond like figure. He is suave, witty, a great dancer, and the best agent the CSA have. Men want to be him, and women want to be with him.

Meanwhile back at CSA headquarters, they have discovered Wallace’s body and have performed an autopsy. It looks like an accident – in a bath tub, no less. But one operative, Del Blaine (Jennifer Lover Hewitt) has other ideas. She believes it is murder, and provides evidence to back her theory. Her investigative work gets her a promotion and she is assigned to work with Clark Devlin, following up on Wallace’s work.

Devlin though, is already at work and following up some leads, with Jimmy chauffeuring the limousine. As Devlin and Jimmy stop for a bite to eat, some young punks attach a homing device to the rear of the limo. This homing device attracts a riderless skateboard to which has been taped a large amount of explosive. As the explosive device moves closer and closer, Jimmy once again has a chance to prove his driving prowess, but eventually they are forced into an alleyway and then cut off by a parked vehicle. Both Devlin and Jimmy get out just before the bomb hits, but he explosion throws Devlin into some garbage cans. He gets up with a nasty gash and blood trickling down the side of his face. He collapses. Jimmy, naturally rushes to his aid, and as is the tradition in all these types of films, Devlin whispers some important information. The first, is to contact a man named Walter Stryder. The second is ‘trust no-one’. And finally he hands over his watch. He tells Jimmy to wear it.

Jimmy heads back to Devlin’s mansion and finds that the watch opens a glass booth which houses a pretty nifty tuxedo. Jimmy decides to try on this tuxedo, but as you will have no doubt guessed (because the movie is called The Tuxedo), that this is no ordinary tuxedo. It is the ultimate Q Branch gadget. The Tux – or Tactical Uniform Xperiment (TUX-1) – immediately adjusts to Jimmy’s size, and through the watch, which is like a remote control, the suit can do almost anything. Some of the modes include: Demolition / Assemble Rifle / Anti Grav / Shake Booty.

Now Jimmy, dressed in the ultimate spy weapon takes over from Devlin. Along the way he teams up with Blaine and together they try to take down the malevolent water mogul, Banning.

Of course, this elaborate set up is not really important to the film. What is, is that Jackie Chan is in a suit that makes him do really cool, and sometimes really silly things. The point being that Jackie’s character Jimmy isn’t really doing any of the actions – the suit is – giving Jackie the opportunity to do large amounts of physical comedy using his martial arts skills.

Look I love Jackie, and obviously as we’ve come to expect from his films, the choreography is amazing, but really this is pretty tedious and juvenile stuff. The film is given another kicking when they chose to partner him with Jennifer Love Hewitt who has no flare for this kind of comedy. Not wishing to be mean, I am sure Miss Love Hewitt has her fans and in other productions proves her worth, but in this – and the script writers must take some of the blame – she is so conceited and irritating that I just wanted Jackie to hit her with a chair or something just to make her stop talking. At this juncture, before I get into trouble, I’d just like to say that Permission To Kill does not condone any form of violence towards women – we are talking films here, and I am sure the props department could rig up a chair that would in no way hurt or injure Miss Love Hewitt. It’s a Hollywood chair – it’s an imaginary CGI chair. All I am trying to say that her character was so frustrating to watch, that it began to make the movie a chore to sit through.

Okay with that off my chest, I’d like to say that The Tuxedo is not a great film. Young teenage boys may like it, but beyond that it is far from Jackie’s grandest moment. You’ve been warned.

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