The Tuxedo (2002)

(In theaters, September 2002) I’m a huge Jackie Chan fan, but even that particular indulgence fades fast when confronted to such dreck as The Tuxedo. A dumb premise handled without flair hasn’t stopped Chan in the past, but this time, the whole massive apparatus of Hollywood seems to have damaged his capacity to wow even the most lenient audiences. Sure, Chan’s not getting younger, but it’s about time he realized that fact on something other than a purely physical level: His character here might be sympathetic if he was a scrawny twenty year old, but as Chan has sped past fifty, his lecherous low-life antics feel all wrong for the role he’s chosen to play. The other thing that make The Tuxedo so hideously miscast is that the gimmick (a high-tech tuxedo that takes control of your body for amazing feats) doesn’t work on someone we’re already expecting to triumph over all. Owen Wilson would have been a fine lead. Ed Norton would have been a great lead. But Jackie Chan? C’mon, we’re already expecting him to beat’em all up. Surprisingly enough, Jennifer Love Hewitt is one of the few things that actually does work well. (But then again, excuse me as I once again revel in the memory of seeing her as a damp wavy brunette with glasses… okay, sorry) The rest of the film is a big dumb American action film: Few laughs, few cool scenes, stupid gags, nonsensical developments… the list goes on. Jason Isaacs (a fine, fine choice as the next James Bond) is taken out of the game way too early, the end fight isn’t as impressive as some of the preceding scenes and frankly, the film’s just written for retarded kids. The Tuxedo is, without a doubt, Chan’s biggest American dud since his Rush Hour breakthrough. Here’s hoping he does better the next time.

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