Rush Hour

on September 18, 1998 by Simon O'Ryan
   Jackie Chan fans worldwide have been collectively holding their breath while the international superstar went Hollywood. Which Chan--death-defying stunt guy, balletic action star, over-the-top comedian, respected director--would surface in the States and how would he fare? Although many of Chan's international and Chinese efforts already hit here with dubbed dialogue and new soundtracks via New Line and Miramax, the results of those efforts have been hit-and-miss both financially and critically. Now, in his first "official" Hollywood movie since the excruciatingly bad 1985 film "The Protector," Jackie Chan plays preeminent Hong Kong Detective Lee, brought to the States when a Chinese diplomat's daughter is kidnapped. But the FBI wants no help from the likes of Chan and so, in order to keep him out of their hair, they team him with a ridiculously out-of-control LAPD detective (Chris Tucker doing his best Martin-Lawrence-meets-Eddie-Murphy-on-speed impression).
   Despite the hackneyed wacky double-team scenario, you can't keep a good Chan down (as the film's bad guys and impotent FBI also quickly learn). With "Rush Hour," Chan fans can breathe a sigh of relief and American audiences can finally enjoy a true-to-heart Jackie Chan film. Hats off to New Line for sticking with him and finding the right material and, most importantly, the right director.
   Those rabid with expertise on Chan's work can nit-pick this movie for its on-and-off faults--the story is lacking, the action misses here and there, he's too serious, Chris Tucker gets way too obnoxious, everything wraps up too easily, etc., etc., etc. But who cares? Most of the time, "Rush Hour" gets it right. Tucker maintains his manic energy without becoming too grating and, when he drops to a saner level, actually shares some nice moments with Chan. Chan, meanwhile, is in fine form--nimble, fun and reserved. It's the best acting he's done in a while, which makes it all the more exhilarating to watch him dance through the well-choreographed fight scenes. Despite the inordinate amount of cliches tossed about, the characters have heart, the film has energy and a relatively solid story comparatively. Director Brett Ratner finds just the right tone of serious story meets fun-filled action.    Starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Tom Wilkinson and Elizabeth Pena. Directed by Brett Ratner. Written by Jim Kouf, Ross LaManna and Jeff Nathanson. Produced by Roger Birnbaum, Arthur Sarkissian and Jonathan Glickman. A New Line release. Rated PG-13 for sequences of action/violence and shootings, and for language. Running time: 96 min.
Tags: Starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Tom Wilkinson, Elizabeth Pena. Directed by Brett Ratner. Written by Jim Kouf, Ross LaManna and Jeff Nathanson. Produced by Roger Birnbaum, Arthur Sarkissian, Jonathan Glickman, New Line, Action

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