The Tuxedo

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Jackie Chan is egregiously misused in “The Tuxedo,” a confused film that aspires to be a superhero flick, screwball comedy and martial arts movie all at once.

Chan’s charms are in his remarkable fighting skills, of course, not in his acting or elocution. Therefore, any film misguided enough to minimize his fighting scenes and maximize his talking scenes deserves the fate “The Tuxedo” will probably receive: quick dismissal to the dollar theaters and eventual purgation from our collective consciousness.

Chan plays Jimmy Tong, a hapless cab driver in an unnamed New York sort of city who becomes personal driver to the super-suave Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). When Devlin is nearly killed by assassins, it befalls Jimmy to don Devlin’s magic tuxedo and avenge him, in conjunction with the secret government agency that Devlin apparently worked for.

Jimmy and his hand-me-down special monkey suit are partnered with Del Blaine, a brand-new agent so stupid she actually believes Jimmy Tong is Clark Devlin. She is played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, who demonstrates no ability for physical comedy or general wackiness, much less any chemistry with Chan. She is one of the worst things about this very bad movie.

The James Bondian villain is Diedrich Banning (Ritchie Coster), a bottled-water magnate who seeks — what else? — to rule the world. Coster’s quirky performance is good for a couple laughs.

The exuberance of Chan’s action films comes from knowing it’s really him on the screen, doing all his own stunts and really, actually fighting as acrobatically and energetically as he appears to be. Here, the effect is ruined. What little fighting he does is enhanced by that damn tuxedo, which makes his abilities superhuman. The scenes thus become a marvel of special effects, not of Jackie Chan’s physical prowess. In short, it’s boring.

One of the marks of a bad movie is when, even within the film’s fictional world, things still don’t make sense. “The Tuxedo,” from first-time director Kevin Donovan, has that in spades. Even accepting that thugs have sneaked up on Jimmy and tied a rope around his neck, how does Del not realize he’s being attacked when she turns around and sees him thrashing about? Even accepting that Jimmy has accidentally knocked James Brown unconscious, why would it occur to him to then attempt to perform in his place?

The plot progresses as a series of a ill-conceived jokes strung together with no regard for coherence or the audience’s intelligence. Dress it up as nicely as you want, a bad movie is a bad movie.

D (1 hr., 35 min.; PG-13, a few profanities, some vulgarity, lots of fighting, some strong violence.)

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