[box cover]

The Tuxedo

Jimmy Tong (Jackie Chan) is just another immigrant hoping to get a break in America, although things for him aren't going so great. He has a decent job driving a cab, but he's so painfully shy he can't even bring himself to ask a girl out for a cup of coffee. However, based on his driving skills, one day he's offered an unusual proposition — quit his yellow cab and become the chauffeur for one Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs), who just so happens to be a super-secret spy for the super secret "CSA." Jimmy finds himself immediately in awe of his boss, who's as much a ladies' man as an international agent, but after Devlin is hospitalized by an assassination attempt, Jimmy finds he has to fill his boss's shoes.... or suit, as the case happens to be. You see, Devlin owns a tuxedo that's filled to the seams with advanced technology, allowing whoever owns it to have superhuman powers. And after donning the black threads, Jimmy (posing as Devlin) finds himself on his first assignment, paired with greenhorn agent Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who is trying to crack a case wherein evil entrepreneur Diedrich Banning (Ritchie Coster) plans to poison the world's water supply and make a killing off the bottled market. The Tuxedo is not an entirely successful outing for Jackie Chan, nor does it compare well to his best action films from his Hong Kong career. However, in part this can be credited to both Chan's age (he performs less stunts with each new film, it seems) and his desire to transition from Asian action star to mainstream American comedian. This time around, Chan avoids taking on his routine role as a police officer/martial-arts expert, instead playing an average schlub who drives a taxi and doesn't know a lick of kung fu ("Not everyone from China is Bruce Lee" he tells a friend). Some Chan purists have complained that the movie's use of wire-fu and special effects approaches sacrilege, but such comments sort of miss the obvious point — The Tuxedo isn't a martial-arts flick, but simply a silly spy movie with an implausible bit of technology at its center (and it's also nice for once to at least have a macguffin in the plot to explain why the laws of physics are being summarily ignored by the filmmakers). Thus Jackie falls off tall buildings, spins about like a propane-powered gyroscope, slaps people around, and does more than his fair share of mugging — the movie has all of the man's legendary charm, if not his legendary physicality. Jennifer Love Hewitt adds some spunk to the frothy script, while co-stars Jason Isaacs and Ritchie Coster cash their cliché-checks playing superspy and supervillian with crisp English accents. The only real surprise comes from a cameo by James Brown, which leads a fun bit as Jackie belts out "Sex Machine" with a live band, doing his best JB impression. It won't take a lot of wattage on your part to get through this one. However, those who insist that this is a bad Jackie Chan film should remember that he made plenty of action-comedies in Hong Kong over the years, and some of those are about as funny as a chipped molar. If The Tuxedo does not please, at least it does not offend. DreamWorks' DVD release features a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include an HBO "First Look" featurette (13 min.), 13 deleted/extended scenes, a gag reel, and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.

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