Jackie Chan is now nearly fifty years old, yet he remains one of the world's most impressive action performers and stunt choreographers. He's really more than just that, though: Chan is a gifted comedian, a solid overall actor and actually, a pretty decent singer. "The Tuxedo" has Chan playing Jimmy Tong, a cabbie who is hired by Debi Mazar to be the chauffeur for Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs), a secret agent who happens to be the owner of a top-secret suit that enables him to do just about anything.
When Devlin is injured, Tong takes his suit and takes his place, partnering with rookie agent Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who is investigating the plot of this film's particular villian, Banning (Ritchie Coster). Banning has figured out a way to introduce a dehydrating agent into the world's water supply, forcing everyone to buy only his water.
Yes, this really is the plot of the film. Chan, who essentially seems like a special effect himself in most of his Hong Kong features, is at his most underused here, with hardly any of the charm or grace that he usually displays. It's not until after thirty minutes that Chan even gets an action scene to display his talent - given the genre, this is surprising and dissapointing (not to mention, given the suit, a lot of Chan's work is wire-assisted or CG). His comedic skills aren't in evidence, either: the script's attempts at humor are predictable and weak. For example, Hewitt's character tells Chan's over the phone that he should say "nice rack" to confirm his identity (Hewitt's cleavage even gets its own close-up later - they should clearly get their own starring credit) to her during their upcoming meeting. No points for guessing he says this to the wrong woman and gets punched.
The pairing of Hewitt and Chan certainly is inspired, but unfortunately, it doesn't work. Hewitt is completely unconving as a scientist or a secret agent. She seems like a whiny high-schooler who somehow lost her way on a field trip to the government. Issacs, in his few moments of screen-time, convinces that he might be worthy of consideration for the Bond role, if Pierce Brosnan ever calls it quits. To Chan's credit, he clearly gives it his best try, even if he can't make anything out of the dull material.
There are a few moments here and there in "The Tuxedo", but the rest of it is so inspired and lackluster that it ranks as the least enjoyable of Chan's American (or Hong Kong) features. The outtakes at the end of the film provide more laughs than the prior 99 minutes.
VIDEO: "Tuxedo" is presented by Dreamworks in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although a rather blah film, this certainly is an awfully nice transfer from the studio. Sharpness and detail are nothing short of perfection, as the film boasts superb fine definition and great shadow detail.
A few minor issues do show up on this presentation, but they're certainly nothing too bothersome. Very slight edge enhancement is present on occasion, but no compression artifacts were spotted. The print used looks to be in terrific condition, with no noticable specks or wear, but some minimal grain that could possibly have always been present within the film.
Surprisingly, the film's color palette is rather dark and subdued, with only a few hints of brighter, richer colors here and there. Black level remained solid, while flesh tones appeared accurate and natural. Not always a particularly great-looking film, but this is a very nice transfer of it by Dreamworks.
SOUND: "Tuxedo" is presented by Dreamworks in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. For an action movie, this is a rather dissapointing soundtrack, with very little in the way of surround use. Aside from John Debney's score - the kind of spy score that Debney has done well with "Cats & Dogs" and "Spy Kids 2" - there's really nothing much for the surrounds to do. Audio quality is decent, as the soundtrack did offer nice fidelity and clear dialogue. As for DTS versus Dolby comparsions, I listened to the DTS soundtrack and then compared several scenes to the Dolby track. The DTS track did offer some minimal improvements over the Dolby track, but nothing too remarkable: mainly, Debney's score just sounded more dynamic and clean.
EXTRAS: Some additional outtakes (although the reel includes some of the outtakes that are seen at the end of the film), 3 extended scenes, 8 deleted scenes, a fluffy 13-minute "making of" promo, the film's trailer (1.85:1/2.0), production notes, cast/crew bios.
Final Thoughts: A very dissapointing Jackie Chan film, "The Tuxedo" offers neither laughs or much in the way of action. Dreamworks has put together a nice DVD, however: video quality is excellent, audio remains decent and a few supplements round out the package. Fans of the action star may still want to check this out as a rental, but anyone seeing this film should go in with (very) low expectations.