As Jimmy Tong, a bumbling New York shlub who chauffeurs supersuave Bondian spy Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs), Jackie Chan finally gets the opportunity to play against type. ”He’s bad with women,” laughs Kevin Donovan, a commercial director making his feature debut with this $60 million action comedy. ”And, ironically, he’s a very poor fighter. It’s a nice counterpoint when you see Jackie running from someone else.” But a Chan movie minus martial arts is kind of like a De Niro movie without the Method. So Tong soon finds himself thrown into Devlin’s latest mission, armed with nothing but the titular gadget-filled piece of formalwear.
Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a water expert suddenly paired with Tong to bring down an executive (”As the World Turns”’ Ritchie Coster) attempting to sabotage a vast aqua reserve. ”[Jackie and Jennifer] are both fish out of water pretending to know everything when each of them knows hardly anything,” says Donovan. Apparently, that includes how to bust a move: When Tong accidentally incapacitates funk legend James Brown before a gig, he’s forced to warble ”…Sex Machine” in front of a slack-jawed audience. ”Jackie has a long recording history in Asia, and he really can sing,” the director says. ”The hard part for him was getting coordinated. He got a real crash course in dancing.”
THE LOWDOWN Can Chan re-create the same crackerjack camaraderie he’s mastered with Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson with, of all people, Jennifer Love Hewitt?