RUSH HOUR 2|
U.S. Release Date:
August 3, 2001
Distributor: New Line
Director: Brett Ratner
Writer: Jeff Nathanson
Producer: Roger Birnbaum, Michael De Luca (executive), Jonathan Glickman, Arthur M. Sarkissian, Jay Stern
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Zhang Ziyi, Don Cheadle (Cameo)
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (action violence, language and some sexual material)
Rush Hour 2 is ripe for accusations of sequelitis, especially opening so late in a season rife with franchising. No doubt the bottom line of the first Rush's $250 million worldwide gross is the second one's raison d'etre. And it follows the same formula, only offering more Jackie Chan action and more Chris Tucker quips with a few superficial trappings altered.
And that's not a criticism.
This time instead of Chan being the fish-out-of-water, it's Tucker's turn as the action kicks off in Hong Kong. The picture carries on where the first one left off with Carter (Tucker) on vacation. To his chagrin, he finds himself tagging along on Lee's (Chan) beat. When two American customs agents are killed in a bombing, Lee and Carter's investigation leads to a deadly triad run by Lee's father's ex-partner (John Lone) and his female "number two" (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Zhang Ziyi) that has an elaborate counterfeiting scheme going. The odd couple cops also meet a mysterious woman (Rosalyn Sanchez) who may or may not be an undercover agent
Now, enough of what little plot there is. After all, this is a Jackie Chan movie. The slight plot is meant to be a framework on which to hang the action and the comedy. It's generic and devotes little screen time to the villains, despite the elegance of Lone and the ferocity of Zhang.
What Chan's movies recall are the Fred Astaire musicals of Hollywood's golden era. Thin on plot, high on charm. Instead of dance numbers, Chan has fight numbers. He brings spectacle back to a human level, through sheer physical talent as opposed to the computer-generated effects that have become de rigueur.
Though Chan's stunt work here isn't as dazzling as his prime Hong Kong fare, he gets to do a lot more than his other Hollywood pictures have allowed. Notable scenes include him and Tucker dangling from bamboo scaffolding, a massage parlor brawl and a Las Vegas sequence where he slips with ease through the tiny slot of a casino teller window.
Many of the same jokes are recycled and many run on the racial side. For instance, in the first one, Tucker warns Chan to "never touch a black man's radio." In the sequel, while at a massage parlor, Tucker schools Chan to "never cut in front of a black man in a buffet line." Or the quips are flip-flopped. Instead of Tucker saying "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" it's Chan's turn. But the energy and the chemistry that Chan and Tucker bring to the table often make what was old seem new again.
No one's going to claim that director Brett Ratner is a great auteur or anything, but what he does bring to the proceedings is a jovial tone, a decent sense of both comedy and action (though he frames the latter with too many close shots at times) and he knows well enough to just let his stars do their thing.
Though the first Rush was fairly light on Chan action, it did have more down time where the stars just chilled and bonded in a humorous culture-clashing way. Tucker was a bit more sedate too. Tucker can be funny, but he's overly ramped up here at times, seemingly trying too hard to verbally top Chan's acrobatics. However, there is some catharsis for the audience when Don Cheadle in an uncredited cameo as a Chinese soul food restaurateur cracks about how Tucker talks too much.
What Jackie Chan picture would be complete without his trademark outtakes reel during the closing credits? This time, the bloopers actually match and sometimes surpass the hilarity of the movie itself. Highlights include Chan's many attempts to make slipping through that tiny teller slot look so effortless, Tucker continuously calling Chan "Jackie" instead of his character's name Lee until Cheadle finally sets him straight and the final clip of Tucker remarking how a villain they just disposed of won't be back for Rush Hour 3.
Among Jackie Chan's Hollywood oeuvre, Rush Hour 2 doesn't rank quite as highly as the happy-go-lucky comic stylings of the Far-East-meets-Old-West romp Shanghai Noon, but, with equal doses comedy and action, it is a fun ride.
Publisher's note: Review revised by the author on Aug. 11, 2007.