Release: 2001, New Line Starring: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Ziyi Zhang, Roselyn Sanchez, John Lone, Alan King Director: Brett Ratner MPAA Rating: [PG-13] language, violence, sexuality Genre: Comedy/Action
An inspector from China (Chan) and an LAPD detective (Tucker) must team up once more to bust a counterfeiting ring.
Chan and Tucker are as funny as ever together
some strong supporting cast members
the action is choreographed in Jackie Chan's amusing style
improvised scenes result in a somewhat disjointed story
highly formulaic, and not much that's new
I'd like to say that Rush Hour 2 is simply an uninspired rehash of the original, but the fact of the matter is that it's just too much fun to slander like that. This entertaining, if not formulaic, sequel reunites Jackie Chan as straight-laced Chinese Inspector Lee with loud-mouthed Chris Tucker as LAPD detective James Carter. This time, Lee and Carter team up to bust a counterfeiting ring masterminded by affluent criminal Ricky Tan, played by John Lone. Their adventures take them around the world, from China to Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
The East-meets-West culture clashes and comedic action sequences are still in place, and Chan and Tucker continue to be one of the silver screen's funniest odd couples. Even when assaulting each other with racial slurs (Tucker threatens, "I will bitchslap you back to Beijing," with Chan later retorting, "I will bitchslap you back to Africa"), it still comes across as good natured fun between pals. The first leg of the movie, set in China, finds Tucker on vacation and prowling around looking for a good time. The best comic moments here are at his expense, as he walks around with a Chinese-English dictionary, only to constantly say the wrong things. (In one scene, he addresses an entire crowd, and Chan explains, "You just asked them to take out their samurai swords...and shave your butt!")
Meanwhile, a number of fight scenes bearing Jackie Chan's signature style scattered throughout the movie keep the pace steady. Chan and Tucker brawl with thugs and guards in a variety of settings, including a Chinese massage parlor, an abandoned warehouse, and a Las Vegas casino. Audiences first get a chance to murmur in amazement when Chan quickly busts out his trademark move of running up a wall with superhuman agility. What follows is his engaging brand of slapstick kung-fu, with outrageous choreography involving towels, trashcans, casino chips, and anything else the combatants can get their hands on.
Aside from Alan King playing an uninteresting and foolish criminal who gets snuffed like a bug (Alan King? Shouldn't he be doing standup with Bob Hope?), the supporting cast is solid: John Lone exudes modern-day, high class tyranny as lead villain Ricky Tan; Roselyn Sanchez, winner of the 1994 Miss American Petite crown, adds sauce to the movie as a sexy undercover agent; Don Cheadle is funny in a small role as a shifty thug who learned his kung-fu in the hood and runs a Chinese/Soul Food restaurant to cover an illegal gambling operation; and Ziyi Zhang of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame is cute and dangerous as a little psychopath out to make a name for herself in the Chinese criminal underworld. Zhang spends most of the film speaking Chinese, muttering all of three English words, two of which are, "Some apple?" This is a good thing since she doesn't speak much English in real life, and belting out too many broken phrases might have gutted the menace of her character. As a bonus, she has a great Moby Dick/Captain Ahab sort of chemistry with Tucker, always surfacing to taunt him and remind him of his previous ass-whipping. Count how many times she kicks him in the face--it's hilarious!
On the downside, fans may be annoyed at just how blatantly some of the material in Rush Hour 2 has been lifted from the first installment. Some moments come off as an endearing send-up (such as the opening scene where Tucker screws around with Chan's Beach Boys mix, only to be reprimanded, "Don't ever touch a Chinese man's radio!"). But other material just inspires the "I've already seen this" yawn. Still other scenes stall in the absence of action, and sometimes things get too sentimental--most noticeably, Chan's relationship with the villain follows the "you killed my father" cliche of the kung-fu genre, and inspires Tucker to do some heartfelt gushing. But Rush Hour 2 never really forgets what it is, and quickly brings back such scenes to its comedic core. For example, when Chan is holding Ricky Tan at gunpoint, Tucker starts the, "Don't do it, he's not worth it!" speech, but soon has a change of mind and starts goading Chan to, "Do it! Shoot his ass!" This great scene is like having one devil on each shoulder, both trying to get you to do the same evil deed.
Rush Hour 2 never really makes you fall out of your seat laughing, and the material that elicits the biggest laughs has been placed in the film's trailer. But Chan and Tucker have a certain combined charisma that audiences love, resulting in an entertaining buddy-cop comedy that people readily applaud. And is the case with most Jackie Chan movies, the closing credits feature some great outtakes that are definitely worth the wait.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)