Rush Hour (1998) starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Tom Wilkinson, Elizabeth Pea, Tzi Ma, Julia Hsu, Philip Baker Hall directed by Brett Ratner Movie Review

Rush Hour (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour

Tucker's Los Angeles Cop

There is part of me which likes "Rush Hour" and then there is a part which sadly doesn't. The part of me which likes "Rush Hour" in fact likes what Jackie Chan brings to the movie, his clever and brilliant stunt work as well as his equally brilliant comic timing. Unfortunately that leaves a lot to "Rush Hour" which I don't really like from it's weak obvious storyline and Chris Tucker who seems to spend the whole movie imitating Eddie Murphy. But despite the problems "Rush Hour" achieves what it sets out to do and that is entertain through some well choreographed set pieces be it comedy or action.

When the daughter of the Chinese Consul in America is kidnapped, Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) from Hong Kong rushes over to help out the investigation. Except the FBI are not keen on foreign interference and trick a wise talking LA Cop James Carter (Chris Tucker) in to partnering him. The trouble is that Carter and Lee are like chalk and cheese, unable to get on. But with the life of the 11 year old daughter in the balance they finally get it together as they track down the kidnappers.

Ken Leung as Sang in Rush Hour

So the set up to "Rush Hour" is unoriginal, two guys forced into working together, complete opposites, who annoy the crap out of each other eventually end up as a good team. It's been done before, more times than I care to remember and as such "Rush Hour" almost runs to a formula as they meet, don't hit it off and then eventually become friends, so to speak. Not that it is so much a criticism, director Brett Ratner works the formula nicely splitting it up into reasonable size chunks so that it doesn't be come all about disliking each other.

What is disappointing is the actual storyline as it starts reasonably well, and the kidnap of the Chinese consul's daughter is a nicely worked serious of scenes which mix comedy and action. But after that the storyline almost becomes unimportant as "Rush Hour" falls into the trap of being a movie built around memorable scenes. Now the scenes are memorable with Jackie Chan delivering his brand of nimble action so that wall climbs, disarming FBI agents and so on are all memorable. And to add to that there are those memorable funny scenes such as Chan and Tucker singing "War". But it ends up that what goes on in between these scenes is dull and highlights the weaknesses in a storyline which needed to be a little tighter.

Adding to the issues is the annoyance which is Chris Tucker. Now there is no doubt that there is a group which like Tucker's loud comedy and in many ways he is doing what Eddie Murphy was doing more than a decade earlier. But for me Tucker's incessant loudness and almost shouting style of comedy ended up being annoying and that unfortunately diluted the comedy. In the humorous scenes he shares with Jackie Chan the comedy is good, but on his own Tucker is just too full on for my liking.

Thankfully Jackie Chan does deliver be it the action or the comedy and "Rush Hour" gives you a slight look at what a versatile and talented performer Chan is. I say a slight look because sharing the billing with a comedian means that Chan doesn't get to really shine with his brilliant comedy and excellent comic timing and ends up being used to full effect when it comes to his snappy and breath taking stunt/ fighting work.

What this all boils down to is that "Rush Hour" is entertaining but is also highly unoriginal. The whole idea has been seen before and because the storyline is weak it ends up being a movie built on set pieces. Some of them work thanks to Jackie Chan but others end up falling flat because of Chris Tucker's style of comedy.


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