by Raffi (7/26/01)
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REVIEW OF THE ORIGINAL RUSH HOUR
I've just returned from the sneak preview for Rush Hour 2, the highly anticipated reunion of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. The first installment was a big hit (making something like $250 million), so they've got a tough act to follow. I liked the first one, it wasn't perfect, I had a lot of nits to pick, but it was overall pretty good, especially compared to Jackie's recent work up to that point. I liked this movie too, but my 'Jackie Standards' have changed, based on the quality of the work he's done since '98 (namely Shanghai Noon). So how does it rate? Not too bad, not great, some problems. but despite this, a good bit of fun.
This time around they add Zhang Ziyi (fresh from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as pretty bad ass villainess, John Lone as a triad boss, and yes, all you Sidekicks fans, the long awaited return of Ernie Reyes Jr. Basically it's a continuation from where the first one left off, Chan and Tucker fly to Hong Kong, now Tucker is the 'fish out of water'... Bumbling his way around and butchering Cantonese at every turn. After the requisite couple fight scenes, they return to LA hot on the heels of the bad guys, yada yada yada, go to the casino, big fight scene, they win, time for Rush Hour 3!
The plot is actually kinda weak, the Hong Kong part especially, its just kind of all over the place and a really thin excuse to go from one comedy and/or fight scene to another (I can just imagine the director saying "ok, now we need to get Chris and Jackie to the karaoke bar... now we need to get them to a massage parlor... now to the construction site..." (don't worry, I'm not giving away anything thats not in the trailer and commercials). I do have to admit that there were enough twists and turns in the story that the plot, as convoluted as it may have been, was not entirely predictable like most action movies. And things definitely picked up in the second half.
Before I go any further, since this is a wushu website, I'll comment on the fighting briefly - I liked it, and I hated it... ok, kind of a non-answer, but let me explain: Some of the fight scenes weren't that hot. I'm not sure if it was the filming, or what, but I was just really disappointed with the first one or two action sequences. The Zhang Ziyi fans anxiously waiting for her to start kicking ass will have to wait til nearly the end of the film too - but her big finally fight scene is pretty good, she gets a chance to show off some swordplay along the lines of CTHD, if you can believe it. And I'm glad they decided to not do a Lethal Weapon 4 type final fight scene where the good guy magically manages to out kick and punch the bad guy who thusfar has killed everyone with a single kick, this movie manages to sneak around that one. Also keep in mind that John Lone is no martial arts star, so don't expect him to be trading kicks with Jackie in the finale or anything...
Jackie is pretty good in this one, not quite as much of his patented 'prop fighting,' in this one, but his action sequences are still pretty inventive and as always entertaining. I watched them pretty closely, and its definitely Jackie doing some of the cool moves, which is good to know, since I was afraid he was slowing down in old age (he has been using stunt doubles more and more). Chris Tuckers fighting is... well not bad, but mostly comprised of him getting kicked in the face... which is a good thing (I want to kick in him in the face a lot too).
I'm not the world's hugest Zhang Ziyi fan, I would have much rather seen Hsu Chi in CTHD, but she does a good job in this one despite her REALLY FLAT character - there's no background, very little dialogue, not much insight, not very interesting, we don't really find out why she's there or what she's doing it for, this may be due to the fact that her role was originally meant to be two seperate roles, but after the success of CTHD they created an expanded role to showcase her. Unfortunately it looks like they forgot to expand her character into the third dimension. John Lone's character really isn't that great either, but he gets a /little/ more background at least. And if you didn't see the first one, you're probably going to be wondering about Chris Tucker and Jackie's characters, since this movie doesn't do too much to educate us about their backgrounds either, but thats OK, Jacie is basically the same as he is in all his movies (good guy chinese super cop) and Chris Tucker is such a Will Smith/Eddie Murphy rip-off, you already know everything about him you need to if you watched Beverly Hills Cop. (On a positive note, Roselyn Sanchez is pretty good).
Now on to the real rants - I was pretty critical of the first Rush Hour's portrayal of Asians and Black-Americans. This movie is definitely worse in its portrayals of Black-Americans (namely Chris Tucker). One thing that we need to remember is that this being a Jackie Chan movie, it will be pretty big in Asia, giving Asians an idea of what Black-Americans are like, and what is Chris Tucker going to show them? they swear, they womanize (constantly), they sing and dance like Michael Jackson, just about every negative Black stereotype that exists in Asia will only be reinforced by this movie I'm afraid. The entire movie all he wants to do is get him some 'mushu'... and he's willing to sexually harass everyone in sight to get it. In general Chris Tucker's loud mouthedness worked a little better in this movie, as far as fitting into the plot and what not since he was the 'fish out of water' him being an idiot and screwing everything up worked a little better (and in retrospect, he's a bit less of an idiot in this one then the last).
While it felt that there is less racism aimed at Asians in general than the first Rush Hour, the sexism and objectification of Asian women in this movie is really quite atrocious. With the slim exception of Zhang Ziyi, nearly every Asian woman protrayed in this movie is either the arm candy of some gangster or gambler, or they're prostitutes. Yeah, that's right, if they're not martial arts masters, they're prostitutes. :( Can you say "one giant leap backwards?"
That all said, the movie does work as an action-comedy, (just be aware of the negative images!). The action is not bad and there were some good lines and funny scenes in the movie. Be sure to look for the cameo by Maggie Q (in the first few minutes) and Australian wushu athlete turned JC stunt crew member Brad Allen in the Casino scene. And whatever you do, may sure you stay for the bloopers at the end. They make the movie like 100 times more enjoyable, definitely the funniest moments in the whole movie were here!