Rush Hour 2 (2001)

Starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi, Roselyn Sanchez, Alan King, Harris Yulin, Kenneth Tsang, Don Cheadle

Directed by Brett Ratner

Expectations: Moderate.

One one hand, Rush Hour 2 is a perfect sequel to the original film. Everything that worked is kept for round two, and because it’s set in Hong Kong it’s instantly more interesting to look at than the first film (no offense, Los Angeles). It seems like the filmmakers felt that this was enough for a sequel, because in terms of story Rush Hour 2 is nothing more than an inverse of Rush Hour. They even do some of the same jokes with the opposite lead saying the lines. I can’t argue that it doesn’t work, because the overall level of entertainment is pretty high throughout the film, but it still seems kinda lazy. I mean, can you imagine if a Star Wars film just rehashed the original Star Wars and thought that would be enough to carry a sequel? 😛

LAPD cop James Carter (Chris Tucker) is on vacation in Hong Kong, visiting his friend and Hong Kong policeman Lee (Jackie Chan). Lee can’t seem to leave his work behind, and while Carter is lamenting this point to Lee (and the audience), Lee receives a call to question noted criminal and triad boss Ricky Tan (John Lone) about a deadly explosion at the American Consulate. And just like that our comedic buddy cops are back on the trail of justice.

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Act of Valor (2012)

Starring Active duty U.S. Navy SEALs and U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen, Jason Cottle, Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sánchez, Nestor Serrano, Emilio Rivera, Drea Castro, Keo Woolford, Thomas Rosales Jr., Marco Morales, Ailsa Marshall

Directed by Mike McCoy & Scott Waugh

Expectations: Low, but the action will probably be OK.

While you could easily write off Act of Valor as simple recruiting propaganda, it’s actually a very accomplished action film that excites as well as it inspires. The action scenes play out like a live-action Call of Duty game but with a focus on realism, with neat overlays and instances when night vision or other cool tech is used. In some ways, I’d say it’s more akin to Rainbow Six (if we’re relating it to a video game), as that game’s measured, static pacing is mirrored beautifully in the way the Seals carry out their first mission on-screen.

In terms of story, you’ve already heard this one before. A terrorist hellbent on sending suicide bombers into crowed areas is on the loose and it’s up to our special forces to take him out. There’s nothing new or fresh here, but the way it is presented to us doesn’t try to sell it as such. In fact, a lot of the plot plays out visually as opposed to being dialogue-driven, so it’s as if the filmmakers knew they were treading deep into cliché territory and sought the quickest way possible to keep the film moving without bogging it down with needless dialogue. For this, I am incredibly thankful and it makes Act of Valor a breeze to watch.

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