Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
|Featuring||Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Zi-Yi, Roselyn Sanchez|
|Producer||Arthur Sarkissian, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Jay Stern|
|Distributor||New Line Cinema|
“Rush Hour 2” is the sequel to Chan and Tucker’s 1998 hit action comedy. The original film was a good resumé builder for Chris Tucker, and the combination of Tucker and much-loved Jackie Chan was a big money maker for New Line Cinema. How could they resist a follow up pic?
While “Rush Hour” was a discouragement due to many negative elements, Chan shone in his typical fish-out-of-water role. But this time around it is Tucker who is out of sorts.
The story opens in Hong Kong where LAPD detective James Carter (Tucker) is on vacation visiting his friend Chief Inspector Lee (Chan). The only problem is that Lee is not on vacation. Several investigations occupy his attention. But in good natured style he isn’t rude and takes Detective Carter with him on assignment. This soon frustrates Carter who wants to find some women and have a good time.
When a bomb goes off in the US Embassy, misfits Carter and Lee find a common goal to work together in. Carter is so moved that two Americans were killed that he goes with Lee to a massage parlor (how touching). Lee learns that Triad gang leader Ricky Tan (John Lone) is behind the bombing. Tan is a former cop and his deceased father’s former partner. The two head off to investigate and solve the crime. The action bounces from Hong Kong to LA to Las Vegas (so much for Carter being out of his element). isn’t long before they uncover that Tan has an American connection. He is the wealthy casino owner Steven Reign (who Carter knows). I know… it’s a small world.
This extremely contrived follow-up includes several wrecks and casualties. There are many rubber neckers who love Jackie. Mr. Chan is often fun to watch on the big screen. This time poor story and a partner who quickly becomes the Weakest Link total his talents. He is strongly opposed to bloody violence in films. Jackie, who was caned and abused as a child, was strongly influenced by the slapstick films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. He has given the Kung Fu films of the 60’s and 70’s a whole new style. His characters often carry a strong on screen innocence. Chan said that he likes the “Rush Hour” films because he always wanted to be a singer. I don’t think he can sing, but he always gets our attention with the quick kicks and jabs.
There are breakdowns in almost every lane of this story being trafficked by Jeff Nathanson. The first flat tire is Carter’s preoccupation with women. It is so adolescent that it could be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. The next casualty happens with the glorification of voyeurism. The pile-up occurs with giving Carter’s character permission to have a fixation on race. I did not hear the audience laugh at any racial jokes. Sorry, the Emperor does not have new clothes. Finally, the two women in the story are only there as window dressing. Roselyn Sanchez is given the role of an undercover cop, but only seems to be present to stir up the testosterone level in the theater. The level of the silly and ridiculous takes place when Sanchez flashes her tiny badge pinned to her bra strap (how cute). Ziyi Zhang (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) may be talented as a martial arts fighter, but her character is like paper mache as crime lord hit man (or in this case “hit woman”). You don’t even get the satisfaction of a villain that incites concern for our odd couple heroes.
I know that the action hungry Lemmings helped this film to open at nearly $70 million. Just a word to the wise: there is a traffic jam ahead and you may want to take another exit. Our children and youth would do better to not see what’s up ahead in “Rush Hour 2”.