a critiQal film review Rush Hour 2 (2001)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: Reunited in Hong Kong, Det. Inspector Lee (Chan) and Det. Carter (Tucker) are looking forward to a vacation. But, when a bomb explodes at the American Embassy, they suddenly find themselves smack in the middle of another case, this one involving a beautiful assassin (Ziyi) and a mysterious mobster (Yulin).

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  • ...the film falters a bit while Tucker and Chan are in Hong Kong, but they are just as good as before once they return to America.

With the long-anticipated release of Rush Hour 3 (2007) right around the corner, it was time to take a look back at the previous 2 films. While Rush Hour (1998) film was a great introduction to the series, how would the second film keep the series going strong enough for a third film?

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker reprise their roles as a Hong Kong Police Inspector and a LAPD Detective, respectively. The buddy aspect of the first film hasn’t faded, and these two still do a good job of making the other one look good. While the friendship doesn’t seem as strong as in the first film, and the one-upmanship that was so comical in the first film is missing, they still manage to keep the viewer’s interest. In Rush Hour 2, they are more limited, with Jackie being basically all about kung fu, while Chris is forced into the fish-out-of-water cliché for most of the film.

In Rush Hour 2, however, they aren’t alone, as Roselyn Sanchez and Ziyi Zhang join up this time around. While Roselyn is the eye candy that can kick a little butt, Zhang is the evildoer of the group, unleashing her martial arts fury whenever she’s on camera, which is impressive enough to make her worth watching just for that. Roselyn also gets a small role as one of the partners romantic interest, and watching the two of them subtly vie for more of her attention occasionally is fun to watch.

The plot of Rush Hour 2 is pretty clichéd (bad guy – with ties to one of the partner’s pasts – printing money and laundering it), and the subplot (Chris Tucker as a fish-out-of-water in Hong Kong) isn’t much better, but it still turns out okay to watch. Unfortunately, Chris Tucker wandering through the streets of Hong Kong does get a little old, as it re-verifies to the viewer that without Jackie Chan at his side, he’s kind of annoying.

However, once the two of them get back to US soil later on in Rush Hour 2, they return to more of the same kind of comical action viewers are used to from the first film. Gone is the seriousness of Jackie’s stunt sequences in Hong Kong – from then on out, it’s more about shooting the film and having fun doing it. Maybe that’s more of an influence from director Brett Ratner – who is obviously more at ease shooting in the US. Whatever the reason, the film really picks up once they are back in the US, and is able to give the viewers a more fun finale than the rest of the film leads the viewer to expect.

While it doesn’t reach the heights of the first film, Rush Hour 2 is still fun to watch, although it’s faults may be part of the reason it’s taken so long for Rush Hour 3 (2007) to make it to theaters. While the film does falter while Chris and Jackie are in Hong Kong, putting them back on American soil really lights a fire under their feet, and they end up giving viewers more of a show than they were expecting – plus, easily sets up a third film.

Based solely on this film, Rush Hour 3 (2007) would take place in New York, and viewers, already interested in the budding romantic interest between Roselyn and one of the duo, should be able to see that blossom just a bit more. But, after 9/11, it looks like the third film is taking place in Paris instead – apparently looking to go for the double fish-out-of-water scenario. But, take heart, Roselyn is back, so maybe that romance that first sparked in Rush Hour 2 may keep going for Rush Hour 3 (2007).

Let’s just hope Ratner, Tucker and Chan can make fish-out-of-water for two into something worth seeing again and again. In the meantime, however, be sure to check out Rush Hour 2 to re-acquaint yourselves with the last time you saw the comic-action stylings of this duo.

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