Rush Hour 2 Review
Here we have one the old favourites, the cop-buddy movie. Not only that but also the cop-buddy-mismatch movie. There is a great tradition in these movies from Lethal Weapon to 48 hrs through Red Heat and even Turner and Hooch. There is a certain formula to be adhered to, deviate from it at your peril. Rush Hour didn’t deviate and as a result was a bit of a sleeper hit three years ago and it seems a sequel was inevitable. The problem with sequels in this genre is that all the best ideas/jokes were used in the first film leaving nothing but a rehash for a sequel. Then again a rehash can sometimes keep the audience amused for 90 minutes…
The plot is almost superfluous in these films and this one is no different. Carter (Tucker) is on holiday in Hong Kong and Lee (Chan) is acting as his guide. Unfortunately a bomb takes out the U.S. embassy killing two U.S. citizens. Lee takes the case much to Carter’s annoyance as this is meant to be his vacation. The reason Lee wants the case is that prime suspect Rickie Tan (John Lone) was once his father’s partner and betrayed him to turn to a life of crime. This is, of course, simply an excuse to spend 90-minutes with fight scenes and one-liners and this is no bad thing. The film guides us through the story via Hong Kong, L.A. and Las Vegas. The plot twists take us to our conclusion where good triumphs over evil (surprise surprise).
As you can see the script isn’t going to win any Oscars, but that isn’t what this film is about. The plot is simple enough to follow but complex enough to keep you interested in the characters. The main thing here is that everyone seems to be having fun on screen and this makes the film entertaining. The jokes are pretty corny throughout and the character development is nil. This is pretty much par for the course in this type of film so any criticism can be laid at the door of the genre as a whole, rather than this film.
The performances are pretty solid all round given the material. Chris Tucker is very good at what he does but he tends to wind people up doing it, including myself. Jackie Chan is not the best actor in the world by any stretch but he is good enough for this type of film. You have to remember he is an action hero, not an actor. He is certainly no worse than Mr Schwarzenegger and to be honest Chan is handling his advancing years far better than Arnie. Zhang Ziyi is fairly bland but I did enjoy her kicking Chris Tucker repeatedly in the face and I’m sure many more of you will enjoy that too.
The film’s look and feel was excellent throughout. Sometimes the direction looked like it was simply going through the action movie motions but it had a fair amount of sparkle. The set pieces are edited well and the fights are fast, fluid and funny (intentionally). I am no great connoisseur of Chan’s work but the fights looked good to me and his inventive use of props gave the fights an extra dimension. I realise he has done much better in HK cinema but as a watered down Hollywoodised version of Chan this looks pretty good to me.
This film is pure and simple entertainment. It isn’t the best action movie and it isn’t the best cop-buddy movie. I’m not even sure it is the best Rush Hour movie. But if you want mindless entertainment for 90 minutes whilst you eat your popcorn and stick your brain in neutral then you could do far worse than this.
This disc is my first experience of the Infinifilm range. The menus look and sound the part and there are 16 chapters to cover the 90-minute running time.
Print/transfer reviews for new Hollywood blockbuster releases are usually superfluous. The print and transfer is usually very good with the odd criticism. Rush Hour 2 is no different; the print is clean and mostly free of speckles although there is some slight grain. The transfer is very good with little or no artefacting. The colour depth, black level and shadow detail are also suitably impressive. I would like to say that the picture is a little soft in places but this is also hardly noticeable. This isn’t a reference quality transfer by any stretch but it is accomplished.
Similarly sound on blockbusters these days tends to be very good. No exception here as the DD5.1 track is good and solid with some excellent use of the rears in the action scenes and for general atmospherics. Dialogue is clear and crisp throughout and the volume levels are reasonable. I don’t have a DTS set-up so if a member of the review team wishes to add their comments here then they more than welcome.
The extras, as I mentioned earlier, are presented as being Infinifilm, which is a posh way of saying it is a “Follow the White Rabbit” with extra bits tacked on. From the main menu you choose the Infinifilm option rather than the usual Extras button. You then get a submenu that allows you to view most of the extras integrated into the film (as in the Matrix) or you can view them separately along with the extras that aren’t branched to from the film.
The Infinifilm features that are selectable in the film are a selection of featurettes covering different aspects of production. Here’s a quick rundown…
Jackie Chan’s Introduction to Hong Kong – Takes longer to explain than watch. This 2-minute featurette is tourist type footage of Hong Kong with Chan doing the voiceover saying how we should all visit.
West Meets East – This is a 4-minute piece showing the U.S./Asian mixed film crew in HK and how they deal with different working methods.
Language Barrier – This is similar to the West meets East section and is a 4-minute piece on shooting in HK.
Attaining International Stardom – This is a 6-minute piece covering Jackie Chan’s rise to stardom in the U.S.
Kung Fu Choreography – At only 9-minutes long this is the most interesting featurette on the disc with some behind the scenes footage of the fight scenes.
Lady Luck – This is a black and white student film directed by Brett Ratner and runs at just under 3-minutes.
Making Magic out of the Mire – A 9-minute featurette on the production concentrating on Ratner and his style.
Evolution of a Scene – 3 scenes deconstructed (Chicken Coop, The Bomb and Slide for Life) with extensive behind the scenes footage and interviews showing their development. Runs for a total of 19-minutes but the highlight is the bomb scene which was devised almost entirely on set and we get to see part of this brainstorming process.
The Fashion of Rush Hour 2 – This does exactly what it says on the tin. This is 3-minutes of the fashions of Rush Hour 2 with some extra moments from Jeremy Piven who does a great cameo in the movie.
Visual FX Demo – This is simply the U.S. Embassy explosion shown using multi angle. The different angles show the finished shot or the model shot or the main shot before the final editing.
Cast & Crew – These are simple text filmographies.
Fact Track – This is an optional extra that shows you interesting facts and trivia as the film plays. Personally I would have this on and listen to the commentary.
Overall the featurettes above are fairly insubstantial with a few exceptions. Then again this film wouldn’t really suit an in-depth documentary so maybe these short puff pieces are in keeping with the feature. Initially I watched them all separately and didn’t watch them as Infinifilm. When I listened to the commentary I had the fact track on and branched to the extras and this is definitely the way to watch them to get a complete experience.
The rest of the extras that aren’t linked to the film by branching are as follows …
Commentary - Director Brett Ratner and scriptwriter Jeff Nathanson are the commentators on this lively track. It is jam packed with anecdotes and stories, making it a great commentary. Unfortunately there is a lot of back slapping going on with Ratner praising Nathanson and vice versa as well as universal praise for the whole cast. It’s only to be expected from a new film but it does grate after a while.
Deleted Scenes – There are 7-minutes of scenes here, which in some cases are as funny or funnier than anything in the film.
Outtakes – There are 5-minutes of outtakes here that are different to the ones at the end of the film. Funny but you’ll probably only watch them once.
Trailers – 2 teaser trailers and the theatrical trailer.
There are two Easter eggs in the scene selection area. Simply choose a scene which has no title or picture and you will get to see two Lord of the Rings trailers, very nice.
Finally there are also some DVD-ROM features such as script-to-screen, original website etc. These things usually screw up my windows installation but I gave them a try anyway. The script to screen in theory allows you to view the screenplay and watch the film for any chapter you like or you can print out chunks of the screenplay. Unfortunately it wouldn’t play the movie on my set-up and I could only view the screenplay. The original website is actually a simple weblink to www.rushhour2.com. The rest of the bits and bobs seem to be links to websites.
As you can see the extras overall are a little bitty in nature and as a result they are fiddly to watch unless you watch them as a package along with the commentary. There are some gems here buried under a load of tiny 3-4 minute puff pieces. Watching the film with commentary, fact track and with the Infinifilm branching is a rewarding experience for a second time through the film but I doubt you’ll want to dip into the extras again.
As I’ve already stated this isn’t the best/funniest mismatched buddy movie but it is good solid entertainment. If you want a good night in with a film that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome then give this a try. The disc has an accomplished 5.1 track and a very good transfer. The extras are comprehensive and well put together. Overall a good buy for fans of Rush Hour and of dumb comedy-action movies in general