Cabbie-turned-chauffeur Jimmy Tong (Jackie Chan) learns there is really only one rule when you work for playboy millionaire Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs): never touch Devlin’s prized tuxedo. But when Devlin is injured, Jimmy takes his place, dons the tux and soon discovers that this extraordinary suit may be more black belt than black tie. Suddenly thrown in the deep end of dangerous espionage mission with rookie partner (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Jimmy is not only impeccably dressed, but becomes a secret agent to be reckoned with.
Review by Louise Keller:
You gotta love Jackie Chan with his irresistible comedic skills that marry his ultra sharp action with a naïve, innocent, sweet manner. It doesn’t even matter that his English is terrible. We are keen to catch every nuance and watch this master at his art as he tumbles, dazzles and thrills us with his considerable talents. Crammed with zippy action and crazy cool comedy, The Tuxedo is a good vehicle for Chan, although his screen partnership with Jennifer Love Hewitt can’t match the marvellous, comic genius of Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon. And although the script doesn’t entirely satisfy, there are some wonderful, wacky moments in this latest Chan outing whose wild premise leads us on a non-stop flying jaunt of entertaining escapism. The script is action-driven, with emphasis being placed on Chan’s strengths, offering him plenty of opportunities to kick ‘em legs high with his martial arts expertise, and make good use of his straight-faced, innocent comedic finesse. We first meet Chan working on his courage and etiquette skills to charm an attractive girl. But his tongue is as awkward as his legs are nimble, and we cringe for him as he makes a total fool of himself. It’s a comedy of errors when Chan dons ‘the tuxedo’, which instantly enables him to ‘shake the booty’, participate in active demolition, efficiently assemble rifles, do the mambo and even activate voice talents – showcased in a splendid scene when he replaces soul legend James Brown on stage. Each visual gag leads to another, and there are plenty of imaginative stunts to gasp at. Picture this! Under the watchful eye of a surveillance video camera, Chan is in a compromising situation with a buxom blonde, as she removes the trousers of his magic tuxedo. After selecting the appropriate action option on his watch, Chan effects a sequence of summersaults, high kicks and ultra slick moves that present genuine action slap-stick as only he can do. Our brain registers the visceral acrobatics, while our funny bone twitches with laughter. Love Hewitt is appealing, showing plenty of cleavage and clout – and if you stick around for the outtakes, you will see that wearing stilettos on the run can indeed be hazardous. The music takes us from catchy Lou Rawls tunes to mellow cello passages, and you can be guaranteed of a good measure of escape therapy. Even at 100 minutes, the running time feels a little long, but if it’s a fix of Jackie Chan magic you’re after, try The Tuxedo for size.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If it weren’t for the likeability of Jackie Chan and his inventive, acrobatic, larger than life and entertaining martial arts prowess, a film like The Tuxedo would be a minor disaster. But as I was watching this flimsy, foolish film, I was repeatedly reminded of Charlie Chaplin, and his use of physical comedy – or more aptly, ‘business’ – as a communication tool. It is especially apt as a comparison since Chan and Chaplin share an ability to evoke emotional responses through action. The purpose of the film is not to tell a story, but to string together scenes that belong in the same movie but basically explore the opportunities that a perfunctory storyline offers by way of innovative action pieces. It may look like a western movie, even sound like a western movie, but at heart it is an Oriental work. Yet the parallels with Chaplin’s work continue in the central character played by Chan: he’s a nobody, a taxi driver accidentally propelled into a situation too big for him, and he manages to triumph through a mix of his own smarts and ‘divine’ intervention. In this case not so much divine as scientifically magical – a tuxedo with sci-fi powers that Batman would be proud of. In some ways The Tuxedo is a cartoon picture that is played out in live action. EG: in the final big fight sequence, Chan captures the all important bug with a shot glass which has landed on Hewitt’s nose. He then holds the bug captive against Hewitt – sliding all over her face and body with one hand while fighting off an army of baddies with his other hand and feet. It’s at once the most ridiculous and most inventive piece of business you could imagine. Although the film feels long and has tedious aspects, it serves to illustrate how actions speak louder than words – in more than one sense. And it is also fast and funny enough to please his fans.
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TUXEDO, THE (M) Low level violence
CAST: Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Ritchie Coster, Peter Stormare, Mia Cottet, Romani Malco
PRODUCER: John H. Williams, Adam Shroeder
DIRECTOR: Kevin Donovan
SCRIPT: Michael J. Wilson (screenplay/story); Michael Leeson (screenplay); Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (story)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen F. Windon
EDITOR: Craig P. Herring
MUSIC: John Debney, Christophe Becke (composer)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Denham Austerberry, Monte Fay Hallis
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
VIDEO RELEASE: June 4, 2003
(Also on DVD)