Starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi, Roselyn Sanchez, Alan King, Harris Yulin, Kenneth Tsang, Don Cheadle
Directed by Brett Ratner
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.
Now since this is just a reverse fish-out-of-water story from the original film, your enjoyment of it will hinge on your enjoyment of the original. If you liked that one, and you want to see more of the same guys doing similar stuff, then this is exactly the movie you’re looking for. Rush Hour 2 really doesn’t offer much of anything else, outside of different villains and locales. Even though the budget is roughly three times larger than the original film’s, it doesn’t feel any “bigger” or more impressive. If anything, it’s less memorable — and less funny — than the original.
Like the first film, the action exhibits an understanding of Jackie’s style and an ability to shoot it as well as can be expected in a modern American film. There are wide shots that show us the performers entire bodies, and even some nice strings of choreography allowed to play out in a single shot! It’s not perfect, but it’s much closer to his Hong Kong work than anything in Shanghai Noon, for instance. The main issue is that they never really let Jackie loose in any extended sequences; the action is limited to small bursts, probably so he doesn’t completely outshine Chris Tucker. Regardless, the fights are fun, with the action in the massage parlor and the casino money room standing out the most (especially that jump slide through the money window!).
Rush Hour 2 is fun and easy to watch, but there really isn’t a lot to talk about. It’s one of these movies you’ll either like or not. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, it just kind of is. It entertains in the moment, but it’s not really memorable or worth re-watching. I’m sure it plays better to the American audience unfamiliar with Jackie’s Hong Kong work, but that’s not me so I can’t really speak to that experience.
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Jackie Chan is probably the worst Jackie movie I’ve ever seen: The Tuxedo! I’m not looking forward to revisiting it, but I guess I’ll see ya then regardless!