The Tuxedo is widely regarded as one of Jackie Chan’s worst movies, but its James Bond-inspired story also makes it a big missed opportunity.
Jackie Chan’s 2002 action-comedy The Tuxedo represents the biggest missed opportunity of his long career. In The Tuxedo, cab driver Jimmy Tong (Chan) is hired as the chauffer of super spy Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs), with the latter being badly injured in a car explosion.
After Jimmy puts on Devlin’s high-tech tuxedo, he becomes a fighting machine and teams up with Devlin’s fellow spy Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) to stop the evil plot of water magnate Diedrich Banning (Richie Coster).
The Tuxedo is frequently cited as one of Jackie Chan’s worst movies, with the film representing the nadir of Jackie Chan’s Hollywood films. What makes The Tuxedo’s bad reputation even more lamentable is that it actually quite a good idea on paper.
The concept of a Jackie Chan spy comedy like The Tuxedo could have been something particularly unique in his career.
The Tuxedo Is A Bond Spoof (Which Is Perfect For Jackie Chan)
The Tuxedo’s set up and premise is clearly heavily inspired by the James Bond franchise, and presents itself as a loving spoof of it. With Clark Devlin embodying a more straightforward Bond archetype, Jimmy Tong is much more of the kind of underdog hero Jackie Chan is known for playing.
With Banning’s sci-fi heavy plans to poison the world’s water supply and the abilities granted by the tuxedo itself, The Tuxedo was perfectly set up to be a quite unique Jackie Chan movie.
In injecting Jackie Chan’s style of both action and comedy into a James Bond-esque story, The Tuxedo offers something original to both in the same package. Even the idea of a tuxedo turning its wearer into a martial arts master could have been lifted right out of the Roger Moore 007 era. Unfortunately, The Tuxedo did not rise to the potential that it started out with.
Why The Tuxedo Didn’t Work
While several of Jackie Chan’s Hollywood productions have underutilized the kind of action seen in his Hong Kong career, The Tuxedo is a particularly egregious offender in this regard.
The fights and stunts of The Tuxedo are mostly generic and forgettable, and a far cry from the action seen in films like Jackie Chan’s Police Story movies. The Tuxedo’s also failed to properly integrate Chan’s style of humor that had been put to use so well in the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon movies, while the constant bickering between Jimmy and Del Blaine quickly gets tiresome.
Every action hero is naturally going to have the occasional misfire here and there, and The Tuxedo is arguably the most prominent one in the especially illustrious action-comedy career of Jackie Chan.
Still, The Tuxedo’s failure was not a result of the movie itself being ill-conceived, but rather it’s shortchanging of Jackie Chan’s trademarks stunts and comedic timing. It remains a shame that The Tuxedo was unable to realize its potential as a Jackie Chan-style Bond movie.