Friday, May 29, 2015
Recent Watches: Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Rush Hour 2.” Relatively early in my internet-surfing history, I discovered a comedy website called SpackleCube Inc. It was run by two guys named Cyrus and Jackson. The site went through many variation before it finally vanished from the internet. In the earliest days, it was just a home for the funny things Cyrus and Jackson would write. One of Cyrus’ favorite movies, one he would reference repeatedly, was “Rush Hour 2,” which he considered the crowning achievement of cinema. As a dumb kid, I didn’t recognize what was probably a great deal of irony on his end. As a dumb kid, I also really liked the original “Rush Hour” and was a bit underwhelmed by the sequel. As a slightly less dumb adult, who found the first one mildly dire, I went into the sequel with mixed expectations.
Picking up where the first one left off, “Rush Hour 2” has Carter and Lee headed to Hong Kong. Though there to vacation, Lee is quickly involved in a mission to uncover who bombed the US Embassy. The plot leads him to Ricky Tan, the Triad gangster involved with his father’s murder. Carter and Lee follow the conspiracy back to the US where they discover a counterfeiting plot, the origin of world renown fake bills, and a sexy Secret Service agent with ambiguous loyalties.
massage parlors. In fact, there’s an entire sequence set in one! This is lazy writing but it’s not the laziest thing the movie does. It flat out repeats jokes from the first film. The Beach Boys on the radio, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of mouth?,” and jokes about Asians all looking the same are reprised. It feels less like a friendly call-back to beloved aspects of the original and more like a lame re-trend of what came before.
Of course, one element “Rush Hour 2” has that the first also had is Jackie Chan. Chan’s acrobatics remain the most entertaining thing about the series. The film puts him in unlikely situations that allow the actor to test out his skills. Thus, we have Jackie on a scaffolding outside a building, ducking and diving around attacking foes. We have a punch-fest in the massage parlor, involving lots of flipping and leaping. Jackie ninjas his way onto a boat, jumps through a tiny window, scales the wall, and has a funny, close-quarters scuffle with one of Tucker’s relatives. Chan’s comedic chops are even given more to do. A small moment of him bopping his head to the radio gets one of the biggest laughs in the whole movie. Chan remains a fantastically entertaining performer and his abilities easily transcends even lesser material like this.
Chris Tucker, obnoxious as he can be, gets a laugh or two. His improvised tribute to Michael Jackson is sort of funny. So is the enthusiastic session he has at the craps table. The casino setting actually adds a lot of color and perks things up a bit. The main villain is totally lame and a complete non-entity. However, his main henchwoman is played by a mostly silent Zhang Ziyi. Ziyi, an up-and-comer at the time, is a formidable opponent, far more memorable then the movie’s actual threat. She’s so impressive that her show-down with Tucker, where he copies a few of Jackie’s trick, is frankly unbelievable.
even more successful then the first, keeping the undead ghoul that is Chris Tucker’s career alive for a little bit longer. [6/10]