Though amusing and reasonably exciting, Rush Hour feels borrowed.
It is patterned most obviously after the Lethal Weapon series, featuring
two unlikely partners whose personalities clash more with each other than
the criminals they're pursuing. But it also has elements previously seen
in such a variety of films as Running Scared, the aforementioned
48 Hours, and The Big Hit. As a
result, this film cannot really exceed the slightly-above-average level
in the script department. One has to wonder, can't Ross LaManna (story)
and Jim Kouf (screenplay) come up with anything new? But Tucker and Chan
work almost as well together as Gibson and Glover, and the story is plausible
enough for a lighthearted kick-and shoot fest.
A young Asian girl is abducted just before a grand gala is to take place
in L.A., celebrating the end of British rule in Hong Kong and the re-release
of millions of dollars worth of ancient Chinese artworks that had been owned
by Brit investors. The girl is Soo Yung (Julia Hsu), the daughter of Consul
Han (Tzi Ma), a diplomat for the Hong Kong government. The kidnapper wants
$50 million or the girl gets it. Thomas Griffin (The
Full Monty's Tom Wilkinson), the outgoing British governor, is also
on hand and appears distraught over the incident. Or is he?
Consul Han requests that Detective Inspector Lee (Chan), one of his best
investigators, be used on the case. But the FBI is already working on it
and doesn't want any meddlesome Chinese guy gumming up the works, so they
hire Detective James Carter (Tucker) a mouthy LAPD cop, to be Lee's "partner"
basically, to show him the sights and keep him away from the case.
But Carter wants to be in on the action as much as Lee does, and neither
man wants a partner. So they must find a way to overcome their differences
and the language barrier to help each other solve the case.
The movie is fun and funny, with plenty of action and very well-choreographed fights. Included at the end is a series of out-takes that are perhaps the funniest part of the show. Rush Hour would be a lot more valuable if it were not so heavily based on other successful films, but if you're looking for mindless entertainment, you could do worse. ***
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