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Rush Hour 2 (2001)

Dir: Brett Ratner

St: Jackie Chan , Chris Tucker, Chris Penn, Don Cheadle

Carter and Lee return. A vacation in Hong Kong proves less than relaxing for the bickering buddies when a bomb explodes in the US embassy, killing two undercover operatives. Lee suspects his father’s ex-partner and executioner Ricky Tang, now a Triad big wig, but fails to clue his clueless partner in on the whole affair. This proves to be a big mistake as Carter manages to put his foot, or should that be mouth, in it at every turn. As they get deeper in the case they get deeper into trouble, especially when the trail leads back to America and a gwaillo crime-lord’s brand new casino; The Red Dragon. The stakes are high because the gang are within a hair’s breadth of obtaining a printing press capable of making almost perfect one hundred dollar bills; a larceny to print money. If that were not confusing enough everyone they seem to bump into is working for at least two different factions making loyalties a very difficult thing to determine.

Rush Hour 2 (2001)After the irritation of Part One, hopes were not high for much of an improvement second time around – this despite the returns that Rush Hour generated. This time the budget has been inflated to an astonishing $100million with a saturation distribution (including an almost simultaneous UK/US release) to get quick returns. Financially this seems to have worked as Rush Hour 2 broke all non-holiday weekend openings (knocking Tim Burton’s from its one week long position at the head). Of the inflated budget $15million went to Chan but Tucker commanded a staggering $20million, unbelievable and frankly just plain unfair. So was it worth it? In its favour Rush Hour 2 is at least more exciting than its pedestrian predecessor, there are more fight scenes and they are generally well choreographed. There’s the welcome addition of Zhang Yi-Yi (from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) which certainly adds weight to the feet and fists. There are some nice nods to Jackie’s earlier films (notably Project A II and Drunken Master II) towards the beginning and some impressive crane work to give a sense of space (although some of the shots of Hong Kong are filmed to look like London for some inexplicable reason). Jackie also manages some genuinely exciting stunt work, the highlight of which is a jump through a bank service hatch that is so breathtakingly nonchalant (until the requisite out-takes of course) it screams classic Jackie – the small detail that requires perfect dexterity… or lots of takes!

But sadly, unlike last year’s Shanghai Noon, this is a less than satisfactory blending of East and West and this is down to more than unbalanced salaries. The film’s main problem is a relentless tide of deeply unfunny racism, sexism and even homophobia spurting forth from the un-gagable Tucker. All the Chinese he knew at the end of Part One (with “hilariously ironic” results) have become 1970’s stereotypes of Asian peoples and cultures. If we are meant to be laughing at him it fails because, despite the cap up his arse (sorry, ass) about being black (except when it suits him, with the ladies for example), he is unrepentant. His ability to reduce any scene to one of deep irritation is profound.

If you enjoyed Rush Hour (why? Go out and get Police Story, Miracles, Project A, Wheels On Meals, Armour of God, Drunken Master… the list goes on, instead) you’ll love this – its more of the same but bigger, brighter and more exciting by miles. If, on the other hand, you found watching the first film as enjoyable as shaving your eyes then avoid it like the plague.

Remember: sometimes we watch ’em so you don’t have to bother.