Rush Hour (1998)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Doesn’t measure up.

In general, when prompted to think about Jackie Chan, most of you are reasonably going to think about the Rush Hour collection. In the States, this is the series that he is most known for…for the most part. I’ve seen them all, like a lot of you, and I remember really enjoying them, like a lot of you. What surprised me when watching it again is that it didn’t measure up to my initial viewing. Yes, there were things that I liked about it, but strangely enough, I find myself preferring the Shanghai Noon series over this…well, according to the first film anyway. I will say, however, that this is Jackie Chan’s first English-speaking role. Before, he would just dub over his own Chinese-speaking voice for roles. This time they filmed him speaking English. What do you know, he did pretty well. Maybe that’s part of the reason why he is most known here, this was his big switch in film.

The plot here, just like in Shanghai Noon, is about a kidnapped girl who needs Jackie Chan’s character’s help. In other words, it’s a damsel in distress film with Chan as the hero. So he leaves China and meets up with a foreign partner. They squabble about their daily life as they investigate the disappearance of the missing girl. The only difference is – this is modern time, in New York City, not a princess that went missing but a little girl, and of course a black guy in role opposite Chan. Other than all that…it’s relatively the same movie…give or take.

I know in my review of Shanghai Noon that I mentioned that they aren’t the same movie because they both have enough different about the movies respectfully that they are clearly two different movies. While this is true, when you look at the heart of the thing…it’s practically the same anyway. I guess it is just the way that you make it that either deems the film successful or unsuccessful. How did they make this film? As far as I can tell, they kept things remarkably simple, which I do like. All they really needed was two distinct characters with the right moral agenda and awkward bickering that leads to a lot of laughter. The story wasn’t super important…but that seems to be what happens in martial arts films anyway. The problem was this wasn’t completely martial arts, this was also American and there was an inkling of a good story here. You just won’t be able to find it, because they were honestly more focused on making you laugh than anything else.

Chris Tucker is like…a mix between Will Smith, Chris Rock, and Eddie Murphy – and he thinks he is Michael Jackson. Not really a surprise, since it’s not a hidden secret that the two of them were friends and can be seen trying to imitate the late pop singer’s super moves in probably all three Rush Hour films. His loud personality seems to fit right in with this film, and his role opposite of Jackie Chan is memorable. They clearly work well together, and make this movie more than bearable. Jackie Chan’s moves are slick and fresh, and don’t yet feel drowned in cartoonish dance moves. At this point, his style was still fresh and funny in its own right. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jackie Chan’s cartoonish fight moves if the tone of the movie he is in permits it, like Around the World in 80 Days…which I’ll get around to reviewing one of these days.

The Good:
Apparently, Jackie Chan is a great actor that has the ability to make some of the most memorable on-screen chemistry wherever he goes. His fighting is amazing, but not over-the-top. Neither Jackie nor Chris suffocate the film. They both add to it incredibly well.

The Bad:
A lot of the humor is great, but not nearly as memorable as it should be. What you take out of it is more along the lines of ideas and chemistry rather than jokes themselves. It feels special, but you can’t really put your finger on precisely why.

Memorable Quote:
Lee: War! Huh! Yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, sing it again, you all!
Carter: It ain’t ‘you all’, it’s “y’all”!
Lee: Yaw.
Carter: Y’all!
Lee: Yaw!
Carter: Man you sound like a Karate movie, y’all!
Lee: Yoll.



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