Rush Hour 2

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/08/05

I’ve completely forgotten why they call this movie Rush Hour. I mean, there’s no traffic, it’s more than an hour, and the only rush Chris Tucker’s in is to get laid. Maybe a better title would be: Asian Cops are from Mars, Black Cops are from Venus.

The fundamental plot of this movie is so tired, the film cans should come to theaters on tiny pillows with itsy bitsy blankets pulled up to their necks. Yawn. Just another silly international counterfeiting scheme. It’s all so very Lethal Weapon and a wee too much Starsky and Hutch.


But no matter. What we must now call the Rush Hour franchise isn’t about plotting, it’s about cross-cultural zingers between the Black guy and the Asian guy, neither of whom understand the other’s world no matter how many times these movies make us visit them.

There’s no question that Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker have chemistry, even when their material stubbornly refuses to rise above ankle level. In case you thought you’ve heard every Asian and Black joke there is, you need a refresher course in the inevitability of Hollywood roman numerals.

Now I really enjoyed the first Rush Hour, but the nicest term I can use for this sequel is “uninspired.” This is a exercise that’s not half as funny or fun as the first one. Even the now cliché end-title bloopers were funnier the first time around (and those out-takes alone were worth the price of admission to 1).

There’s something very 1970′s bathhouse about grown men in towels wrestling each other. But that’s the scene in a Hong Kong massage parlor in Rush Hour 2. Fortunately, neither pride nor embarrassment is exposed, although rumor has it Chris Tucker is endowed with more pride than a phalanx of Asian fight-masters, even placed end to end. So to speak.

rushhour2_towelpose.jpgAm I nuts or did Chris and Jackie go underground in L.A. and emerge from a manhole cover in Las Vegas? Have Jackie and Chris solved the riddle of instantaneous movement through space and time? Is there a missing road-trip on a digital editing workstation somewhere?

The spell-check-proof Zhang Ziyi, previously seen in the year of the Crouching Tiger, here shows her ability to enliven crappy movies as well as outstanding ones. If you want an Asian actress who has never been on Ally McBeal, Zhang’s your go-to girl. She may be able to beat Chris Tucker mano a mano, but close-ups reveal Zhang is powerless against her true enemy, Zhang Zits.

It’s wonderful to see the great John Lone back on the big screen as bad guy Ricky Tan who, I believe, has a hit on the Latin charts. John supposedly was Jackie Chan’s dad’s partner before he went bad-apple and killed him. Naturally, there’s the requisite scene where Jackie has John at gunpoint and John taunts him about having killed his dad – something only a fool would do when they’re looking down the barrel of a .45. In this case, “fool” is defined as a hungry Asian actor in Hollywood.

Fresh from his tour with Judy Garland, Jurassic-era funnyman Alan King makes a surprise appearance as an outrageously rich white guy – something Alan hasn’t been since 1968. What, Norm Crosby and Charlie Callas weren’t available? Even more surprisingly, while Alan was cast his neck wasn’t! Didn’t his neck get a callback? Does his neck need a head shot?

Alan, whose next birthday means he officially approaches infinity, struts with a trophy babe who is roughly the square root of his age. Turns out this babe is an undercover agent with a body to die for and an itsy bitsy badge pinned to her bra strap – just in case her bust comes in handy in a bust.

The first Rush Hour was fresh and funny as all get-out, but this installment is strictly Hong Kong Phooey.

Photos Copyright ©2001 20th Century Fox


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