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IN SHORT: Not bad, but not a "Jackie Chan" flick.
Sue me, I've been spoiled. Ever since New Line cinema brought Rumble in the Bronx over to these American shores 2 years back, there has been a non-stop rush of chop-sockey flicks starring Jackie Chan. Long time readers know that Cranky's a fool for 'em. Even the bad ones are filled with unbelievable action stunts that, as the outtakes that roll at the end credits prove, are all for real and not computer generated.
Chan is a major star outside this hemisphere for a number of reasons. 1) His actions scenes are spectacular and his martial Arts fighting style even more so. 2) Jackie uses the international language of comedy to defeat the need for a tremendous amount of dialog -- action and laughs works best when you can't understand a word. In general, the far-fetched stories and stapled together plots that are typical of his movies are more than redeemed by sheer action.
It's been 12 years since Chan starred in an American backed movie and his return to these shores, in Rush Hour, is a mind trip. The trip is that, if you've grown accustomed to what Chan's movies are supposed to look like, you'll be sitting in your chair looking at your watch waiting for the next fight scene. On that level, and only that level, you'll be disappointed. Rush Hour is, at minimum, two scenes short of what you want, and all the fight scenes are trimmed to the bone.
Now let's talk to the real (ie. non-fans) people. Rush Hour is a funny, somewhat action filled flick that falls dead center in the range of flicks for new daters. Chris Tucker is the LAPD cop assigned to keep Hong Kong Police Detective Lee (Chan) out of the way of an FBI kidnaping investigation. Tucker's problem is that he never works with a partner -- heck, the way he shoots off his mouth, no one respects or wants to work with him -- and he sure doesn't want to be made to look like a baby sitter. Lee is the duck out of water, who has a personal commitment to find the kidnaped little girl, who was once his martial arts student.
Rather than standard chop sockey, director Brett Ratner (who last worked with Tucker in Money Talks) has shifted Jackie into a buddy picture. Think Chinese values coming up against the Street, and you have lots of opportunities for cross cultural clashes; What music they like, how they dance, how they fight, all of this laid over a more substantial and logical story than has been seen in any Hong Kong generated flick.
This leaves little room for Chan, whose fight scenes are shaved down to comparatively few minutes of screentime, but lots for Chris Tucker, who makes the most of it. Tucker does his motormouth spiel and is genuinely funny. It's his movie.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Rush Hour, he would have paid...
Surprise! Same rating I gave to Rumble in the Bronx, but for a different reason. Is Rush Hour a Date flick? Yes. Is it a Jackie Chan flick? Not nearly enough for Cranky.
On the other hand, even Jackie Chan told Cranky (in his StarTalk) that his followup movie, Who Am I didn't have enough "quality" for the American big screen and would go direct to HBO. Cranky saw it and, if you want to see what he considers to be a "bad" Jackie Chan genre flick, this is the one. The story and characters are so convoluted that it is almost impossible to follow, and the TV pan and scan reduces the action sequences to Jackie kicking and punching, most of the time, open air. Avoid it. If you've got a date, take her (him) to Rush Hour. If you're solo, rent a classic like Police Story (released here as First Strike, so I'm told) or Drunken Master.
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