Rush Hour 2 (2001) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, language and some sexual material
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Ziyi Zhang, Alan King, Don Cheadle, Roselyn Sanchez, Alan King, Maggie Q, Ernie Reyes Jr. (cameo), Jeremy Piven (cameo)
Director: Brett Ratner
Screenplay: Jeff Nathanson
Review published August 7, 2001
I've heard that sometimes in comedy it's not what you say but the way you say it that will inspire laughs. After watching Rush Hour 2, you'd think the makers took this philosophy as the almighty Holy Gospel of Humor. While there are some decent laughs that emerge during the course of this action-comedy sequel, almost none of them come from the unfunny script by Jeff Nathanson, the man whose only previous works were in writing shoddy scripts for Speed 2: Cruise Control and For Better or for Worse. While there's no denying the talents of the two stars, I would take a guess that filming Jackie Chan (The Accidental Spy, Shanghai Noon) and Chris Tucker (Jackie Brown, The Fifth Element) interact with people while walking down a busy street for 90 minutes would provide just as many laughs. I would even guess it might be more entertaining as well, since we wouldn't have to endure a plot as boring or characters as one-dimensional as that offered by this second outing in the series.
I almost hesitate to mention this plot because I have a feeling no one would go see a Rush Hour film because the story sounds interesting. Well, for the purists, I shall continue...
LAPD Detective James Carter (Tucker) goes on vacation with his newfound buddy, Hong Kong cop Lee (Chan). The duo become embroiled in taking down a dangerous Triad whose leader (Lone, The Last Emperor) may have been responsible for the death of Lee's cop father. While trying to take down the dangerous gangster, they discover there may be bigger fish to fry in the counterfeiting ring they are involved in.
Considering I was very tepid towards the first in the series, Rush Hour, it should come as no surprise that I won't rank Rush Hour 2 among my favorite films either. The strengths and weaknesses are exactly the same in both films: the interaction between Chan and Tucker makes for some moments of fun, but it's the tediously written and contrived script they are plugged into that make the films not-so-good in the end. The film-making formula appears to be this: come up with a semi-workable plot, work in some situations that might inspire something funny happening, plug in Tucker and Chan into these scenes, and then roll film and hope they ad-lib something amusing to use for the final film.
Fans of the first film, who are probably not very difficult to entertain since they just like the stars, probably won't be too disappointed investing their money in this one. Tucker gets plenty of screen-time and moments of irreverent hamming, while Chan dishes out some high-flying action during the fight scenes, even if they are far from his best. Yes, the goods are delivered, and if that's what you are looking for and nothing else, I suppose you might have a good time. As for me, I just wish that they could deliver the goods without delivering the bads as well.
-- Followed by Rush Hour 3 (2007)
©2001 Vince Leo