RUSH HOUR 2
Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi, Alan King
MPAA Rating: (for action violence, language, and some sexual material)
Running Time: 2:00
Release Date: 8/3/01
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Review by Mark Dujsik
You canít walk into a sequel expecting anything revolutionary. In fact, you canít walk into most movies anymore expecting anything revolutionary, but thatís beside the point. If anything, you hope you encounter a rare sequel that hits the same notes as the first, or, even rarer, a sequel that surpasses the original. Of course, this all depends on how good the first movie was to begin with, and I enjoyed Rush Hour. It was a lighthearted action-comedy, and it greatly benefited from the stunt work of the magnificent Jackie Chan and the nonstop joking of Chris Tucker. Both return in the sequel, and the action scenes are still good, but the comedy itself is very slight.
And then thereís the plot. Detective Inspector Lee (Chan) and Detective James Carter (Tucker) are in Hong Kong, where we last left them heading. The U.S. Embassy has just been bombed and two Americans were killed. Carter complains that his vacation has been overrun by Leeís work, and when Lee gets a call about the bombing, he takes the case. Soon, the two are on the trail of crime syndicate leader Ricky Tan (John Lone), who was once Leeís fatherís partner. After a few mishaps, the Secret Service comes in and reveals that the syndicate is masterminding a smuggling operation, although theyíre not exactly sure whatís being smuggled.
Now, itís not giving too much away saying that the ring is smuggling counterfeit money. How many times have we seen this plot? I swear this setup must be the most tired plot impetus in some time. Do they teach this in screenwriting classes? When you run out of ideas for an action movie, just use the counterfeit money laundering setup. Then, to make matters even more frustrating, the syndicate launders the money through, get this, a casino. Yes, they establish a casino for the sole purpose of clearing the money. Itís a really nice casino, too. Now, doesnít this defeat the purpose of laundering money? I mean, you launder money to spend it, but if youíre already spending the money on somethingólike, say, maintaining a casinoóbefore itís clean, isnít that bad business? Now, granted, Iím no money laundering expert, but this is a little too absurd.
Plot frustrations aside, the movie doesnít deliver the humor of the first. The dialogue-driven comedy depends almost entirely on racial stereotyping, and it really borderlines offensive. Iíve seen Chris Tucker add some life into a small role (The Fifth Element) and Iíve seen him carry an otherwise terrible movie (Money Talks), but this is honestly the first time heís ever gotten on my nerves. His jokes in the movie hit upon just about every Asian stereotype in the book, and it gets embarrassing. When we get back to America, he just keeps going with more. During his big fight with the female villain (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonís Zhang Ziyi), I was rooting for her. Thatís not a good place to be during your big fight.
Chan, on the other hand, delivers in the fight scenes. There are definitely some good sequences here, like the bamboo scaffolding climb or the massage parlor fight. It has the same breathtaking quality of all of Chanís material with enough humor thrown in for fun (thereís a great moment where we see how Chan and Tucker differ when running along the side of a semi-truck trailer while suspended in midair). These are not Chanís best actions sequences, but anything from him is a breath of fresh air among other such movies.
All of Rush Hour 2ís moments come from Chan and his stunt work. There is nothing else here on screen worth seeing, and some of it, the plot (which insults the intelligence of the audience) and most of Tucker (who insults the sensibilities of the audience), is downright embarrassing. Actually, I take that back. Ziyi as the villain is delightfully evil and just as easy on the eyes as she was in Crouching Tiger. I expect and hope that she will become a international crossover star, and letís hope she gets much better material than this.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.