Welcome to a double feature special here at Japan Cinema! Every so often we feature special postings like this to showcase movies in the same vein. Director Brett Ratner is a director that gives and he takes away. After destroying one trilogy with X-Men: The Last Stand, he revives another with Rush Hour 3. Rush Hour 2 & 3 had the most asian influence of the trilogy and I actually enjoyed them both, for what they were of course. The teaming of comedian Chris Tucker and martial arts wizard Jackie Chan isn’t the best, but at least these movies try hard. It seems as though there’s a joke every 30 seconds and an explosion every 45. One moment the mismatched buddy cops are swapping gunfire with an army of gangsters and the next they’re weaving through the streets of Paris in a cab ride that makes the arcade game “Crazy Taxi” seem tame by comparison. Here is Japan Cinemas take on Rush Hour 2 & 3.
Rush Hour 2 is a cop buddy flick featuring Jackie Chan as Inspector Lee of the Hong Kong police and Chris Tucker as Detective Carter of the LAPD. People who didn’t see the first one probably aren’t all that interested in the second. By and large, the same draws, and drawbacks, apply. For example, once again there’s an East-meets-West odd-couple juxtaposition of straight man Lee with outrageous motormouth Carter. Chris Tucker does indeed deliver a few bits of comic gold here and there, but most of his improvised material is just plain mean-spirited and at times, borderline racist.
Rush Hour 2 begins with Tucker as the fish out of water, as Jackie drags him through the streets of Hong Kong hunting down crime lords and bad ass babes. Their friendship still strong, the unlikely pair mix fast paced action with great comic timing to keep audiences in attention. But even with strong Asian locations, its interesting to note that even this film eventually winds up in America. Are American audiences unable to sit through any film that spends to much time on foreign soil? This is a truely sad fact and one I hope changes over the years. I am considering this a flaw because it was unnecessary for them to ever come back to the states in the first place.
The action scenes are plentiful and I esepcially dug the Chinese bamboo scaffolding scene. Yes, they really use bamboo for urban scaffolding in Asia. It’s very strong, yet flexible. For anyone who’s seen Jackie in action, the implications of such ready-made monkeybars are obvious. Also, kudos to Zhang Ziyi, who plays the main villian. The slip of a girl who made such an impact on American audiences as the delicate dragon Jen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon brings a welcome presence to the role of the Bond-style bad girl.
Since “Rush Hour 2” comes and goes in a swift 90 minutes, there’s not much time to develop the characters. Maybe the whole purpose of “Rush Hour 2” is to serve as an appetizer until the main course came along a few years later with Rush Hour 3. It isn’t easy to keep America laughing, but Rush Hour 2 does what few other films seem to be able to accomplish. Its a real rush to get a film that actually keeps fun at the forefront. Ingenuity and effort on the behalf of the cast and crew have turned this into something along the lines of a sequel that lets the audience in on the fun. I enjoyed myself!
Rush Hour 3 has our two cops teaming up once again to investigate Triads, a Chinese equivalent of the American Mafia. Rush Hour 3 actually starts out promising enough, with Chris Tucker doing his usual, but still occasionally hilarious, oversexed black man shtick. The shtick is starting to wear thin and Tucker, Chan, and Ratner all no doubt made “suggestions” about what the characters should do, where they should go, and what should happen. In Tucker’s case, he wanted to look tough, so Carter took martial arts lessons; in Chan’s, he wanted to stay true to his family-friendly fan base, so he elected not to kill his onscreen brother even though he double-crosses Lee some 50 times in the span of three scenes. It’s absurd if you ask me.
Lee is in LA providing security for a Chinese Ambassador on the verge of breaking up the biggest criminal organization in the world, the Chinese Triad. Just before the Ambassador can reveal his vital information he’s shot. Soon Chan and Tucker are on a plan to France, to root out the criminal syndicate’s leaders and bust them up. After 53 years on this planet, 30 as the hardest working star on any continent, with virtually every bone in his body broken while performing his daredevil stunts, Chan may have worn out not his welcome so much as himself. The action scenes are aging and it definetely shows in this movie.
The script’s a mess, but at least for the first three fourths it remains funny. In the last quarter of the film though, Rush Hour 3 gives up entirely and resorts to rehashing bad action scenes from other lame movies. The film’s big finale takes place on top of the Eiffel tower, and it’s exactly like every other Eiffel tower cop movie finale you’ve ever seen, except more boring. With all that said, it’s still a pleasure to report that the new Rush Hour is… OK.
While I think these 2 films are lazy attempts at cashing in on a sure thing, I do think it’s a blessing in disguise because it made Chan realize this isn’t the domestic route for him to take. He is aware of what a good movie is and now is more focused on picking better roles. This threequel gets a passing grade in my book. It’s somewhere in between: nothing special but with a high amiability quotient. The two stars know they click, so it’s no crime for them to extend and exploit that good vibe one more time. These are two very entertaining, enjoyable films that I think you should give a chance.