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Movie Review

A humble Asian cabbie named Jimmy Tong is thrust into the dangerous world of high-stakes espionage when he becomes the chauffeur for wealthy industrialist and debonair superspy Clark Devlin. An attempt on their lives leaves Devlin in a coma. Just before passing out, the 007-esque secret agent tells Jimmy to don his prized tuxedo—the ultimate high-tech fashion statement. Jimmy quickly discovers that these fancy threads have a mind of their own, and give the wearer superhuman speed, martial arts skills and countless other talents, including the ability to sing and dance like James Brown (just what every undercover agent needs to keep from drawing undue attention to himself). Unsure of his mission, Tong masquerades as Devlin long enough to get sucked into a case involving a bottled-water tycoon out to corner the market. The diabolical Diedrich Banning intends to contaminate the world’s water supply with lethal bacteria that will kill people by dehydrating them, thus forcing everyone to rely on him for their H2O. But Tong and his tux aren’t the only ones standing between this dispassionate European (today’s villain of choice) and world domination. Jimmy’s sidekick is Del Blaine, an attractive young rookie agent only slightly more experienced than he is. She thinks she’s assisting the legendary Clark Devlin, but soon finds herself calling most of the shots. Together, Jimmy and Del must bring down the bad guy before he drives everyone to drink.

positive elements: Crusty introduction aside, Devlin has a generous heart. He is kind to Jimmy and tells his insecure driver that, while a tuxedo can give a man a certain amount of confidence, the rest has to come from inside (". . . which you have"). Jimmy shows respect for his new boss, and models courage and perseverance when the chips are down. He also resists the advances of an amorous woman.

spiritual content: Asked if he’s praying, Jimmy indicates that he makes use of a psychic hotline.

sexual content: The camera peers down Del’s dress. Agents ogle women’s backsides. Planning to meet Del for the first time, Jimmy is instructed to make contact by using a password complimenting her breasts (of course, he approaches the wrong woman). Del flirts to gain access and information. There’s seductive touching and caressing. Diedrich’s girlfriend makes bold advances toward Jimmy, luring him to her hotel room and partially undressing him as he struggles to escape. Dancers at a nightclub are dressed immodestly. While doing his James Brown imitation, Jimmy wiggles his backside in the faces of patrons.

violent content: Lots of martial arts action. A bicyclist gets hammered when Jimmy flings open the door of his cab, leading to a humorous chase. Indeed, much of the violence is absurdly comical, though serious conflict does exist. A bomb explodes, nearly killing Devlin. An undercover agent is drowned when a bag thrown over his head is filled with water. People infected with the deadly bacteria shrivel up, break into pieces and turn to dust. Men are knocked into vats of chemicals. Others fall from great heights after being shot or hurled out a window. A bad guy gets kicked in the groin. Jimmy accidentally punches out the Godfather of Soul.

crude or profane language: Just over a dozen profanities, plus a few crude expressions and instances of sexual slang.

drug and alcohol content: Alcohol is served at a nightclub. Characters smoke cigarettes throughout, a habit that ultimately contributes to the downfall of the villain ("Smoking is bad for your health," Jimmy quips).

other negative elements: The movie opens with a deer urinating in a stream (that water makes its way into a bottled water factory). The reason Jimmy gets the cushy gig working for Devlin in the first place is because he’s an excellent reckless driver.

conclusion: The Tuxedo isn’t the worst film of the year, but it’s not a very good one. A tepid blend of action, intrigue and comedy, it comes off as a dumbed-down James Bond flick infused with Chan’s trademark flurries of prop-enhanced hand-to-hand combat. The humor fails more often than not. In fact, the audience laughed more while outtakes ran beside the credits than it did during the previous 90 minutes. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have its enjoyable moments. It does. Most come from Chan’s natural charm. There’s a cute closing scene in which Jimmy’s new friends use their spy smarts and gadgetry to help him ask out a pretty girl. And Chan fans will enjoy seeing his wild stunts displayed in a new genre. But a tuxedo should never look silly or cheap. Some snazzy visual effects aside, this one does. Maybe it’s the print I saw, but the audio was lousy in places, specifically the dialogue which sounded like people mumbling into Dixie cups. Hewitt can be a sweet, even a strong presence onscreen, but here she comes off as a spoiled, sparring adolescent looking for an excuse to cop an attitude. It’s one snit after another—with cleavage. Add violent and sexual material, and The Tuxedo fails to make a classy impression.


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