Rush Hour 2

Rush Hour 2, the last of the summer's action biggies, has a way of reveling in its own kickass cliches that is disarming. The main ingredients are Jackie Chan, the Hong Kong action king, and Chris Tucker, the motormouthed American comic. All director Brett Ratner has to do is stir and serve. The first Rush Hour cocktail, released in 1998, grossed $141 million and conned critics as well as audiences. It brought Chan's Chief Inspector Lee to Los Angeles, where he teamed up with Tucker's LAPD detective James Carter to solve a kidnapping case. Mayhem and laughs ensued. They do again in Rush Hour 2, in which screenwriter Jeff Nathanson contrives to bring Carter to Hong Kong. Where do these ideas come from? Even if big bucks all around is the main motivation for this sequel (Chan got $15 million; Tucker took home $5 million more), the film winds up being faster and funnier than the first time. Chan's acrobatic high jinks play strikingly off of Tucker's wiseass humor. And Ratner, again in the director's chair, lines up villains who don't do much harm — John Lone glowers suavely as Ricky Tan, and Zhang Ziyi, of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, sizzles as Hu Li, the cutest baddie in any summer film. For a sexy twist, add Roselyn Sanchez as Isabella Molina, a double agent who leaves both Lee and Tucker panting — for good reason. As for the plot, who cares? It's the stunts (catch Chan swinging off the side of a speeding semi), the laughs, and Chan and Tucker busting their humps that make Rush Hour 2 a modest crowd pleaser in a summer of grandiose also-rans. Stay for the outtakes, which add to the ramshackle fun. Come to think of it, the whole film plays like an outtake, and that I do mean as a compliment

From The Archives Issue 876: August 30, 2001