Jackie Chan rules Hollywood via ‘The Tuxedo’
Crispina Martinez Belen

LOS ANGELES, CA — Jacky Chan’s celebrity in Hollywood is growing by leaps and bounds and it is expected to be enhanced even more by his latest movie, “The Tuxedo.”

“Tuxedo,” co-starring Jackie with the petite but very talented Jennifer Love Hewitt, was premiered on Thursday (Sept. 19) night at the Mann Grauman’s Chinese Theater and judging from the crowd’s enthusiasm when Jackie appeared, the Chinese comedic action superstar has indeed conquered Hollywood, an heir apparent to Bruce Lee’s throne.

Always the nice and down-to-earth fellow, Jackie went around the fans that lined up both sides of Hollywood Blvd. in front of the Mann Grauman’s Chinese Theater and shook hands with some lucky ones. Hollywood Blvd. was closed to traffic in part for a few days for some very exciting events, including the Latin Grammy Awards and the premiere of Dreamworks’ “The Tuxedo.”

Prior to the screening of the movie, a karate stunt was performed by hundreds of kids in karate outfits. On the stage in front of them, Jackie Chan applauded and thanked them and the crowd that chanted his name. Some shouted “I love you, Jackie!” to which the well–loved actor answered back “I love you, too!” obviously very touched.

After the screening, Jackie mingled with the guests (that included the international press who covered the event) at the “premiere after party” held at Vert Restaurant just outside Renaissance Hotel on Hollywood and Highland. Colleague Ricky Lo reminded Jackie he interviewed him previously in Hong Kong (for his “Shanghai Noon” movie) and the actor smiled broadly at us.

“The Tuxedo” tells the story of a cab driver (Jimmy Tong) who becomes chauffeur to a playboy millionaire named Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). Devlin likes him but early on he admonished him never to touch his prized tuxedo which is securely encased in glass. But when Devlin is hospitalized due to an explosive “accident,” he ordered Jimmy to put on the tuxedo. Jimmy obeyed and behold, he gets the power to do extraordinary abilities — like kick and punch the enemies, but also sing and dance beautifully. The tuxedo is not an ordinary tux but one computerized with awesome and state–of-the-art gadget.

It turns out that the “out of commission” wealthy industrialist Devlin is a secret agent working for the CSA. Jimmy, with his rookie partner Del Blaine (Hewitt), is suddenly thrust into a dangerous world of espionage. He becomes an unwitting but impeccably dressed secret agent.

Del Blaine, on her part, does not know that her partner is actually Jimmy Tong, the driver, and not the suave and fabulous Devlin.

This is now a typical Jackie Chan role, but definitely it has the charm, the wit and the humor that are characteristically his alone.

The very ingredients that catapulted him to international fame (via his movies “Rumble in the Bronx”, “Rush Hour 1 & 2” and “Shanghai Noon” among others).

Jackie said he grabbled the opportunity to play this role, which is a big departure indeed from his usual screen persona because as he said “it’s the kind of part I’ve never done before, and that is what made me want to do the movie. The script was funny, and my character was interesting. I wasn’t playing a policeman, just an ordinary person — a taxi driver who becomes a kind of super spy because of a tuxedo that lets him do all kinds of special things.”

“The Tuxedo” marks the film feature directorial debut of Kevin Donovan, an award–winning commercial director. Being a first time director, Kevin confessed to encountering some problems with the producers at first but then Jackie noticed his predicament and “he wrote me a two-page letter saying he understood my dilemma but that he wanted to help me in every way he can. And he did. Jackie is the kindest man on earth. He was very supportive of me. He encouraged me to work on, He’s amazing.”

As to the chemistry between Jackie and Jennifer, Kevin said “it was so great that it made our work much easier.” The first-timer that he is, Kevin said there were a few regrets he felt when he saw the result of his work, scenes that he could have done differently, that he could have changed; scenes he shot incorrectly. “I did huge political mistakes.” But somehow the movie turned out well and is predicted to be another blockbuster for Jackie Chan.

Kevin’s next project? “I think everybody is reluctant to get you again until they see the result of your first work,” he said.

“The Tuxedo,” which opens next week in LA, will be released in the Philippines through United International Pictures (UIP).