In his comedy pairings with Chris Tucker in the ”Rush Hour” movies and Owen Wilson in ”Shanghai Noon,” Jackie Chan has shown himself to be as nimble a businessman as he is a martial artist: Just as his marvelous athletic abilities inevitably begin to weaken, the Chinese action star has found himself a new, lucrative niche in Hollywood as the short, charming, acrobatic foreigner-who-speaks-funny-English half of crime-fighting, odd-couple duos. Getting a piece of the Chan-plus-someone-else business is clearly the goal of The Tuxedo, in which Chan plays an amiable chauffeur entangled in high-level espionage with Jennifer Love Hewitt as his spy partner. But something went wrong with the stitching, and this mismatch fits nobody well.
The star usually plays unaffected guys who prevail where more polished folks might fail, and there’s a nice idea sewn into the lining of the story: On his own, Chan’s Jimmy Tong really is a weakling. But when he puts on a specially equipped tux, the suit itself turns him into a superman, allowing the actor the fun of playing a man who’s super despite himself. Still, Chan needs a foil, and Hewitt, while perky, doesn’t project nearly enough comedy weight; she’s too slight and tailored for his style. Future designers ought to know that a wardrobe of outsize comedy partners suits Chan best.