Rush Hour
Rating -

Action/Comedy (US); 1998; Rated PG-13; 97 Minutes

Jackie Chan: Detective Inspector Lee
Chris Tucker: Detective James Carter
Tom Wilkinson: Thomas Griffin
Elizabeth Pena: Tania Johnson
Philip Baker Hall: Capt. Diel

Produced by Roger Birnbaum, Leon Dudeudir, Jonathan Glickman, Arthur M. Sarkissian and Jay Stern; Directed by Brett Ratner; Screenwritten by Jim Kouf, Ross LaManna and Jeff Nathanson

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Brett Ratner's "Rush Hour" is about as close to perfect as you can get with a Jackie Chan action picture. The film contains a great combination of comedy and action stunts, and I must admit that I became absorbed in the chemistry between the movie's biggest stars. But even then, hasn't this genre lost all touch with reality? I mean, the stunts, fighting, and chase scenes all seem to get more artificial as time goes by, and in the typical Jackie Chan movie, we see karate exercised beyond comprehension. Once you see it, you can repeat it over and over again in your mind without ever seeing it again. When Mr. Chan fights (he does do it well, but the way) in "Rush Hour," the movie feels and plays like a flashback to "Mr. Nice Guy" or "Timecop."

Judging from the construction of the movie, the makers knew that Jackie Chan's films were clichèd as well. That's probably where Chris Tucker comes in. Here is a man sometimes so hilarious and influencing to this movie that it seems hard to believe that he at one time appeared in rubbish like "Friday." Teamed up with a brave man like Chan is at first glance hard to accept, but their chemistry and working relationship go together as well as Abbot and Costello's did in the 1940s. Trust me on this one: these two can make any movie together, and it would be a hit. Chan offers his own sly, sometimes obvious stunts, and Tucker brings to the genre what it has desperately needed: the comedy. Your result is this movie, the best of the recent action pictures, and probably the best once can be in this day in age.

The story (what there is of it) serves the purpose of introducing the characters and putting them up against the action. The premise starts out with the kidnapping of a Chinese consul's daughter in LA after Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) breaks up a 'smuggling ring,' and the star players of it manage to get to the United States. The abduction of Soo Young, the consul's daughter, is not a very easy one, because she, like Chan, is fairly experienced in a karate field, so to speak.

But they succeed. The event leads to a citywide investigation, as China sends in Lee to help the LAPD with the crime. To keep control of this Chinese man as well as himself, James Carter (Chris Tucker) is teamed up with him to help with the investigation. Actually, though, the only reason he was given the job to watch Lee is because he's a loudmouth police detective who enjoys driving around in LA's streets and keeping tabs on all of those gang members, prostitutes, etc. Giving him something to occupy his life will prevent the uproar in the streets of Los Angeles.

Jackie Chan is considered to be the king of these types of action flicks, and why not? After all, he does all of his own stunts and dirty work; he tries so desperately to please his audience the best he can. Sometimes, it can't be done, because most of his movies have no reliable scripts. "Rush Hour" is the best possible way for him to make it big in Hollywood. A big and loud comedian like Chris Tucker is just what this genre needed.

But these movies still do not come to life. They always lack a lot of ambition in the script, even though most of the time the stunt scenes are effective. But we all know that stunts don't make a movie. The script in "Rush Hour" may bring these two together well on screen, but the story is still routine, and still predictable, and still unimportant.

The really great Jackie Chan movies remains to be seen. "Rush Hour" is one of the stronger ones, with the combination of action and comedy provided by the two main characters. On a Jackie Chan scale, it gets two-and-a-half stars, the best possible so far for these types of movies. Maybe one day we'll have one better.

© 1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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