The Tuxedo (2002) Movie Review

Detractors of Jackie Chan’s “The Tuxedo” invariably points to the use of wireworks as the reason why they don’t feel this is a “real Jackie Chan” movie. This is unfortunate (for them) because, taken as a stand-alone movie (and really, that’s all it is) “The Tuxedo” is a riotously funny movie that mixes comedy with stunts while at the same time lampooning every plot of a James Bond movie. As a plus, it also doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as the other bastard son of James Bond, “XXX”.

Jackie Chan (“Gorgeous”) headlines as Jimmy Tong, a Chinese cabdriver in New York City who, because of his driving ability, is hired to be the chauffeur for suave superspy Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). After a skateboard bomb (yes, that’s right, a skateboard bomb) blows up their car and puts Devlin in a coma, Jimmy goes after the guys responsible. Through a series of misunderstandings and mistaken identities only possible in movies, Jimmy ends up impersonating Devlin as he and newbie secret agent Del (Jennifer Love Hewitt) infiltrates Evil Business Tycoon Banning (Ritchie Coster). Their mission is to uncover Banning’s secret plot for global domination and stop him. Or something like that.

Despite the fact that I couldn’t understand half of the things Jackie was saying in the movie (is it me, or is his English getting worst with each movie??), he still had enough funny one-liners to crack me up. “The Tuxedo” as a whole cracked me up. This movie is played entirely for laughs, and nothing proves this more than Banning’s idea for global domination: he plans to dry up the world’s drinking water so he can sell his brand of water exclusively. Yes, that’s right. Evil Tycoon Banning sells spring water for a living!

Also, consider the tuxedo, which is this fancy-schmancy doohickey that allows its wearer to do incredible things like dance the mambo (hey, that’s incredible to me!) or take on multiple combatants at once. Re: the tuxedo allows its wearer to do everything James Bond does on a regular basis in his movies.

The knock on “The Tuxedo” is that Jackie, (supposedly) for the first time in his illustrious career, has relied on a lot of wirework for his stunts. Because the tuxedo is superpowered, its wearer can defy gravity and do things really fast. To make these stunts come alive requires some outside help, and as such Jackie is often being propelled to and fro by wires, or replaced by stuntmen. Jackie Chan Purists have cried foul because of this, although I don’t know why, because the extra juice only helps to serve notice that this movie is a cartoonish comedy and nothing else.

“The Tuxedo” also benefits tremendously from the appearance of Jennifer Love Hewitt, who in classic Jackie Chan tradition doesn’t actually play the love interest more than she plays the “buddy”. (Jackie Chan, for those who don’t know, doesn’t believe that his character should do anything immoral onscreen. Thus, Jackie’s characters will never sleep with anyone he isn’t married to, or even kiss them for that matter. It’s called being a role model, look it up.) Hewitt (TV’s “Party of Five”) is obviously having a hell of a time here, and it shows. Not only does she look great in a designer suit, but the young actress is stunning in a blue dress. Oh, and also in true Jackie Chan tradition, the girl gets to kick some ass, too. You go girl!

I can safely say that “The Tuxedo” is the first Jackie Chan movie that’s really made me laugh. Even “Gorgeous”, although funny, was not an all-out comedy; there were some serious moments there that wouldn’t fit here. “The Tuxedo” is going for laughs first, and everything else second. The movie benefits greatly from Chan’s rubberface and Hewitt’s glowing presence. (I can safely say that I am now a fan of the delightful Ms. Hewitt.)

Fans of Jackie should stop criticizing the man for what he’s using now, and focus on what he’s giving them in return. No, Jackie may not be leaping up walls on sheer willpower, but if that’s all you cared about in your Jackie Chan movies, you could go to the zoo and watch monkeys run around and still get the same level of “entertainment.” The point is, don’t think too much about what’s wrong (or missing or added), and start thinking about what’s right. And “The Tuxedo” is right in that it’s one funny movie.

Kevin Donovan (director) / Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, Michael J. Wilson, Michael Leeson (screenplay)
CAST: Jackie Chan …. Jimmy Tong
Jennifer Love Hewitt …. Delilah ‘Del’ Blaine
Jason Isaacs …. Clark Devlin
Debi Mazar …. Steena

Buy The Tuxedo on DVD