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  Tuxedo, The Don't Drink The Water
Year: 2002
Director: Kevin Donovan
Stars: Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Richie Coster, Peter Stormare, Mia Cottet, Romany Malco, Daniel Kash, Jody Racicot, Boyd Banks, Scott Wickware, Christian Potenza, Karen Glave, Colin Mochrie, Bob Balaban, James Brown
Genre: Comedy, Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Jimmy Tong (Jackie Chan) is a taxi driver who pines after the gallery owner he sees every day, but hasn't worked up the courage to do anything about her. Today will be different, as he rehearses his best lines and walks into the establishment with a purpose, except when he does sidle up next to her he fluffs his smooth talk and is forced to retreat in quiet humiliation, and to make matters worse when he gets into his taxi he accidentally knocks over a cyclist. After avoiding getting thumped, the hassled Jimmy finds he has a fare - and this one might just change his life.

Jackie Chan finally fulfilled his dream of breaking North America with Rush Hour, but his diehard fans were not so convinced that franchise saw him at his best. Even so, those efforts were far more convincing than some of the Hollywood movies he starred in after that flush of success he'd been aiming for ever since The Cannonball Run way back in 1981, as he landed in a succession of what could best be described as idiotic action flicks which had more to do with Saturday morning cartoons than anything in his Hong Kong outings - surely not coincidentally, Chan had his own cartoon series about this time too, underlining his persona's drift away from anything logical.

Therefore this time around he played an ordinary schlub who happened to turn into, well, Jackie Chan as the fighting machine we all knew, when he donned the item of clothing indicated in the title. What's so special about this suit that makes him into a superhero? It's a sort of robot computer type thing which when worn plugs into the occupant and like Sigourney Weaver at the end of Aliens, allows him to battle with increased strength, not that Jimmy gets to combat alens here, though frankly after seeing what he actually does get up to you wouldn't have put it past the screenwriters to include one or two.

Well, they didn't, but what they did include was Jason Isaacs as a James Bond clone who hires Jimmy as a chauffeur after his assistant (Debi Mazar) recommends the taxi driver for the job. They strike up a goodnatured relationship which soon sees Jimmy taking his place when the agent is seriously injured, so what else to do with no training as a spy than step into his shoes, or more literally, his tuxedo? You have to kick start the plot somehow, but what Jimmy is up against is a mad scientist and a plot to take over the world though, er, bottled water. The evil organisation has a bug in its manufacture which will make people so thirsty they can die from dehydration within seconds; if they can harness this, they will, um, make everyone on the planet very thirsty.

You can't help but think the baddie (Richie Coster) hasn't thought this through, but there's a lot about The Tuxedo which came across as half-arsed, in spite of its surface gloss and regular trips to the special effects well. The idea was obviously silly fun, but there were curious missteps in that process, for example the film starts with a deer taking a piss into the stream where the bottled water is drawn from, co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt kept getting into situations where her poitrine was drawn attention to in unwholesome fashion, and generally there was a crudity to the humour at odds with the more easygoing, wacky Chan style he had cultivated in his latter day exploits. On the other hand, there were points where this grew so ludicrous that it was quite compulsive viewing, if only to see where they would take this next: the height of lunacy (or self indulgence) being when Jackie Chan knocks out James Brown and goes on stage in his place, wowing the crowd, naturally. "Good God!" the Godfather of Soul aptly observes. Music by Christophe Beck and John Debney.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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