Rush Hour 2

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"...RH2 comes off as a somewhat sloppy production with an uninvolving story. "

- Carl Morano


Rush Hour 2 (2001)

Director: Brett Ratner

Producer: Arthur Sarkissian, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Jay Stern

Writer: Jeff Nathanson

Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi and Roselyn Sanchez

Running Time: 105 min.

Plot: Chief Inspector Lee of the Hong Kong Police and LAPD detective James Carter go to Hong Kong on a much-needed vacation, where Carter is looking forward to discovering the city for the first time. But when they arrive, they discover a bomb has exploded in the American Embassy, killing two U.S. customs agents who had been investigating a counterfeiting ring. The Hong Kong police suspect that Triad crime lord Ricky Tan is behind the blast. Inspector Lee is assigned to crack the case, much to the chagrin of Carter who is annoyed as he feels his vacation slipping away. But for Lee the case is personal - Tan was once his father's police partner and played a direct role in his death. The two cops set off in pursuit of Tan, but this time around it is Detective Carter who is a fish out of water, and Lee now has the chance to teach him some lessons. But of course, as the pair chase Tan from Hong Kong to Los Angeles and beyond, Carter has a few things to teach the locals as well.

Reviews

JAMES H'S REVIEW: Who knew that the most entertaining movie I've seen this summer would be a sequel to a film with one of the most annoying people in Hollywood? Not only that, the movie is cliched and rather bland. I sure wouldn't have guessed.

"Rush Hour 2" has come at the most critical point in the summer. It's now mid-August and the only other summer blockbuster I remotely enjoyed was "Jurassic Park 3" (for it's supreme silliness and tongue-in-cheek humor). There is only one other movie this summer that can, and probably will top "Rush Hour 2", that film being "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back".

"Rush Hour 2" isn't terribly well made, nor is it in any way original. It is however, entertaining. It's fun to watch Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker bicker like Gibson and Glover, or Murphy and Nolte. It's fun to watch Jackie in several fight scenes that outshine anything in the first movie. It's also fun to watch the very talented Zhang Ziyi beat the crap out of Chris Tucker.

What's not too fun is the predictable plot and wholly unsatisfying conclusion. Granted there is a fight, but it's not between the two people who know martial arts, no that would be too obvious. Also what wasn't much fun was Chris Tucker's racist jokes. After accidentally punching Jackie's character, Tucker quips, "Oh come on, you all look alike!" But that's not half as bad as an uncomfortable scene where Tucker accuses a Las Vegas dealer of being racist because he gave Tucker different chips than everyone else.

On the other hand, Tucker does give some funny moments. His Michael Jackson impression is funny. However, being funny is his first order of business, creating a credible character seems nowhere on his list.

Jackie is Jackie. He's played this kind of character so many times now it's second nature. His physical comedy is great here. It's all in his face. His expressions say everything, he really doesn't need to speak.

The fights, as I said, are better than the first. Although, that's not saying much given it's still watered down in comparison to his Hong Kong films. It seems obvious Mr. Ratner gave Jackie more control and freedom with the fights and the action.

If you're a Jackie fan, you'll enjoy this film, but it will only make you want to watch his better films (case in point, I watched "Police Story" again after I saw it). It is a short, fast and fun diversion.

JAMES H'S RATING: 7.5/10


NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: Looks like we may have a franchise on our hands. Both Rush Hour movies have made more money than they deserve, and in one of the outtakes at the end of this sequel, Chris Tucker jokingly (but perhaps prophetically) hints at a third installment. Let's hope Jackie Chan sees the light and stops wasting his time with half-assed Hollywood flicks costarring no-talent flavors of the week (or is that "weak"?).

The sad thing is, this movie is better than the first one. As a bickering buddy cop action/comedy, it's OK. But as a Jackie Chan movie, it is once again sub-par. I know, he ain't getting any younger and it's unrealistic to expect wall-to-wall fighting and stunts from him these days, but he showed us in Who Am I? that, even in his forties, he can do better than this. Instead of the cornucopia of not-likely-to-be-extraordinary films he has scheduled at present (8/11/01), I'd rather he took his time and turned out just a few more real action juggernauts along the lines of Project A and Police Story.

Regardless, Rush Hour 2 gave me at least a small sense of relief compared to its abominable predecessor. The first one was little more than a vehicle for Chris Tucker to mouth off; this one relies less on verbal humor (if the agonizingly unfunny dialogue in RH1 can rightly be referred to as "humor") and more on action. What's there isn't spectacular, but it was sufficient in terms of eliminating the unpleasant "let's show all the action in the entire movie in the two-minute trailer" taste left in my mouth by the first film.

The way I see it, there are five types of patrons likely to go and watch this movie:

1) People who remain loyal to Jackie Chan despite his falling popularity (though this may serve as a pick-me-up).

2) People who think Chris Tucker actually has any talent worth showcasing.

3) People who went in, with drool-cups strapped to their chins, to see Zhang Ziyi and maybe Roselyn Sanchez too (with the massage parlor girls as an added bonus).

4) People who felt obligated to support and possibly review the film due to its Hong Kong connection.

5) SHEEP who just want to see the hottest, most talked-about movies.

I suspect that the fifth category is the largest by a comfortable margin. I, for my part, fall into the fourth and, to a lesser extent, the first. My feelings on the second group will soon become evident, if they aren't already. And as for the third, I don't believe that 20 minutes' worth of screen time for one person in and of itself justifies the cost of a ticket, no matter how drool-inducing those 20 minutes may be. Those among you who erroneously take this to mean that I am gay are invited to suck my dick (no, the irony isn't lost on me).

Anyway...Chan and Tucker bounce from Hong Kong to Los Angeles to Lost Wages, Nevada and most of the supporting cast goes with them.

John Lone (from Year Of The Dragon, the film notorious for having the male lead role which Mighty Peking Man says gives him a hard-on) is good as a somewhat James Bondish villain with a link to Jackie's past.

Roselyn Sanchez is vaguely annoying eye candy in the form of a double (or is it triple?) secret agent. Rush Hour 2 is her first film. And, if the China Chow/Big Hit precedent is any indication, it will also be her last.

Zhang Ziyi is...hmm, let's see...tight black clothing...spiked heels...sadism with a smile...nope, I ain't gonna go there. Zhang Ziyi is Zhang Ziyi. Her raw presence transcends the language barrier for those of us who aren't so lazy that we won't read subtitles. And, as with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, her "girl next door" look and effervescent real-life personality do nothing to hamper her ability to play a complete bitch.

Alan King is somewhat neglected as a string-pulling baddie. His screen time and impact on the story don't give us much to judge his performance by, even though a significant aspect of the plot hinges on him.

Jackie Chan is his usual self, though it seemed to me that he was speaking English a little more clearly than usual this time 'round. That's good. Now, perhaps we can work on finding a movie worthy of his talents?

Last and certainly least, Chris Tucker is quite possibly the most overpaid person in the film industry, pulling in a ridiculous $20 million for his part in this movie. I know, I know...celebrity payoffs are measured by number of asses in seats, not talent. Still pisses me off. He just coasts through his dialogue by saying his lines in that trademark voice of his and generally being a jackass. Zhang Ziyi...who, by her own admission, knows "Just...a little" English (holding the tips of her thumb and forefinger a fraction of an inch apart...read that in an interview somewhere)...enunciates three words in "our" language in this movie (four syllables total), and she says each of them with far more conviction than anything that comes out of his mouth. Chris Tucker's acting is a lot like Brett Rattner's directing...it's about as substantial as a fart.

A flawed movie, to say the least...but, at the end of the day, it's not too bad. The ending is one of the most unsatisfying in action movie history, and not just because ZZ's last Mandarin dialogue isn't subtitled for us. Up until then, it's a mixed bag. Anyone who thinks this is a really good Jackie Chan flick is either an idiot or hasn't seen the likes of Dragons Forever and the earlier Police Story films.

Note to Brett Rattner: when you show bloopers at the end of a movie with JC in it, see if you can cut back on the number of unfunny dialogue flubs, eh? Maybe you could show a shot of yourself in the director's chair as the biggest blooper of all...

NUMSKULL'S RATING: 6/10


CARL MORANO'S REVIEW: A woman disguised in a blonde wig and sunglasses (CROUCHING TIGER'S Zhang Ziyi) drops off a package at the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong that turns out to be a bomb. Carter (Chris Tucker) and Lee (Jackie Chan) are stuck in Hong Kong traffic. Chris is on vacation and wants to be shown a good time but Jackie is urgently assigned to investigate the Embassy bombing. Lee tries to oblige Carter and takes him to a karaoke bar and a massage parlor, all hang-outs of the notorious Triad boss, Ricky Tan (John Lone), the key suspect in the bombing and now in possession of some "super bill" counterfeit plates. At both locations, Carter makes a total mess out of things and almost gets them both killed. Luckily, Lee's kung fu prowess (Carter has learned a lot from Lee too!) comes in handy and they barely escape both skirmishes.

After close-call aboard an American gambling Tycoon Steve Reign's (Alan King) yacht where Ricky Tan is supposedly shot by psycho assassin Hui Li (Zhang, Lee) is taken off the case and Carter decides to cut his "vacation" short and return to L.A. With little effort, Carter convinces Lee to go to L.A. With only the clothes on his back, Lee boards the flight and they both decide to continue the investigation and follow up on Reign's whereabouts. While surveying Reign's penthouse they both ogle Isabella (Roselyn Sanchez) as she seductively strips in front of the penthouse window. Trying to save her from a wrongly perceived bomb threat, Lee and Carter learn that Isabella is an undercover Secret Service Agent on the same case. She pretends to swear them in as deputy agents in an effort to get them out of the way. Of course, her action has the opposite effect and the wacky duo eventually end up saving her curvaceous ass as they race to retrieve the counterfeit plates in an explosive casino brawl. Before long, Tan and King double-cross each other and Sanchez' true allegiance is questioned a few times. The two-fisted finale has Lee attempt to avenge his dad's death while Carter and hit woman Li square off!

It is strange to think that audiences will really care about a plot line dealing with a counterfeiting ring as opposed to part one's kidnapping. That's really a government bureaucrats' worst nightmare. To emotionally hook the audience, Chan's character keeps referring to Tan's relationship to his police officer father's murder and how Tan was somehow responsible. This remains pretty vague and doesn't give the desired effect of involving the audience any deeper. For Jackie Chan fans, the good news is that the film's story is firmly focused on his character. Chris Tucker basically tags along to throw each conflict completely off kilter at every opportunity. Without Tucker, the story and characters could easily be dropped into any installment of Chan's POLICE STORY series and feel right at home.

On the downside, the production has a rushed feeling and one senses that a lot of footage was shot and never used (whatever happened to Chris Penn who was one of the first actors signed up for the sequel?}. The story sort of picks up in mid-stream and the budget and/or the production's scale seems about the same if not lower than the first film. The true cause for celebration is that this film is probably the best Hollywood showcase for Jackie's fighting and stunts thus far. By Hollywood standards, the fight scenes are extended and minimally marred by that annoying choppy, MTV-style editing that ruins any sense of "real time" that is crucial to dramatically building a fight scene. There seems to be more action in RH2 to keep the audience from scrutinizing the plot- and that's a good thing! In her U.S. film debut, Zhang Ziyi is misused and comes off as a one-dimensional hit woman with killer kung fu skills. It's a real waste that she and Chan don't face off for an over-the-top, kick-ass finale. Even a parody of the flying CROUCHING TIGER-style wushu would have been neat. ! There's a brief, offbeat cameo by Don Cheedle (TRAFFIC) as Tucker's Afro-Asian friend.

Overall, RH2 comes off as a somewhat sloppy production with an uninvolving story. The chemistry between Chan and Tucker is still there but takes a little while to warm up on-screen. There is some genuinely funny stuff but most of the physical and verbal comedy is based on retreading dialogue and events from the first installment. If you haven't seen part one, some key humorous dialogue will be lost upon the viewer.

The film's action highlights include a tense fight on a tall bamboo scaffold, a brawl in a massage parlor, a fight on a yacht and a fight in a Vegas casino. One of Chan's most jaw-dropping stunts has him slide through a casino cashier window! This stunt should have been repeated in slow motion!

The film ends on a real high as the bloopers roll under the end credit scroll. Many of the outtakes are funnier than the comedic bits that made it into the film! Composer Lalo Schifrin (t.v.'s MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, ENTER THE DRAGON, THE BIG BRAWL) re-hashes his excellent 70's style action score from RUSH HOUR 1 and there should no complaints.

Overall, RUSH HOUR 2 is a painless and entertaining film that gives kung fu fans more Jackie for the buck!

CARL MORANO'S RATING: 6.5/10