Dressed to Bore

by Amy Danielson

Here’s a refreshing image: a gently flowing river surrounded by grass, trees and furry little animals. A deer stands in a shallow spot. His tail twitches. The camera moves in on his fuzzy, lightly-colored behind. Hmmm. A yellow stream exits him and blends with the water.

This is how The Tuxedo, starring Jackie Chan, begins. As the opening credits roll, we are led through a bottled water processing plant. And from what I gather later in the film, the deer urine symbolizes the contamination of America’s water supply (or the hypocrisy of the bottled water industry). This is quite a statement to begin a silly action movie.

Jackie Chan plays Jimmy Tong, an insecure, Hooters-shirted cabbie whose biggest concern is displaying enough wit to seduce a sophisticated woman. He fails with the woman, but the right client crawls into his cab and he lands a lucrative job as the driver for millionaire and secret agent Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). After their first mission together, which ends with Chan furiously trying to out-drive a bomb-rigged skateboard, Devlin is injured in the explosion and spends the rest of the film in the hospital. So, Chan poses as Devlin, inheriting Devlin’s technologically enhanced, go-go-gadget tuxedo. This ridiculously powerful garment allows him to dance (and sing!) like James Brown, assemble a sniper rifle with great speed, and kick all of the ass that needs kicking. Finally, Chan foils an evil plan with fellow espionage dilettante Jennifer Love Hewitt: A bottled water mogul schemes to poison the water supply which will dehydrate their clients so that they will buy more bottled water. To illustrate the effectiveness of this toxin, they overdose an unsuspecting moron and we watch as his face chaps and his entire body crumbles into a dusty mass on the floor. What? Sure, the premise seems preposterous, and it is. However, it does not completely detract from our enjoyment of the film. After all, we still have Chan’s charm and martial arts expertise to entertain us.

Jackie Chan fans know that he always does all of his own stunts, often breaking limbs and incurring concussions during film shootings. But The Tuxedo‘s plot demands that Chan rely on the aid of special effects and wires for some of the suit-related feats. Of course, in a scene that requires Chan to scale a pipe on the outside of a building with nothing more than suction cup gloves, wires are expected. But otherwise, the film is mostly trick-free. Chan’s expertise with cars, ropes, and girls is delightful. Anything he can hang on to while kung-fu fighting is game. Too bad so much of the film is spent dealing with those idiotic bottled water guys, taking valuable screen time away from Chan’s action sequences. What a waste of time for Chan and audiences. Perhaps that deer urination scene foreshadowed the film only too well.

The Tuxedo, Rated PG-13, Directed by Kevin Donovan, starring Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Peter Stormare. Now playing at area theaters.