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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/21/02

Rush Hour 2
Infinifilm - 2001 (2002) - New Line

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Rush Hour 2: Infinifilm Film Rating: D

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A/B-

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A+

Specs and Features

91 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keepcase packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:14:32 in chapter 12), audio commentary (with director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson), Fact Track subtitle track, 6 Beyond the Movie featurettes (Jackie Chan's Hong Kong Introduction, Culture Clash: West Meets East, Language Barrier, Attaining International Stardom, Kung Fu Choreography and Lady Luck short film with commentary by Brett Ratner), Making Magic Out of Mire featurette, 3 Evolution of a Scene featurettes, Fashion of Rush Hour 2 featurette, Visual Effects Deconstruction multi-angle feature, 10 deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Brett Ratner), outtakes, 3 theatrical trailers, cast and crew filmographies, DVD-ROM features (including script-to-screen screenplay access and original website), color bars, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD EX 5.1, 2.0 & DTS ES 6.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

I get pretty tired of the eternal movie nerd debate over whether or not sequels are inherently inferior to their forebears. At this point, it's not too hard to tick off a fairly extensive list of follow-ups that are either as good as or improve on the originals. But despite the fact that it made more money than the original, Rush Hour 2 does not belong on such a list. Rush Hour 2 is the kind of lazy cash-in that gives sequels a bad name.

Having bonded over a case in Los Angeles, Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan, in a rare performance as a character not named "Jackie Chan") and LAPD Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) are now fast friends. As the movie opens, Carter has taken Lee up on his offer to come visit Hong Kong, but the vacation is cut short when an American embassy is bombed, killing two American translators. Turns out, though, that the slain Americans weren't really translators at all but undercover customs agents who... ah, forget it. All you really need to know is this another needlessly complicated plot involving a counterfeiting ring, an alluring Asian terrorist (Zhang Ziyi of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame), an equally alluring Latina (Roselyn Sanchez) who may or may not be an undercover Secret Service agent and a villain (John Lone), who's responsible for the murder of Lee's father... y'know, to give the movie heart.

Look, I don't expect much from a movie like this. I didn't expect much from the original Rush Hour and ended up enjoying it for what it was. All I really need are some cool, original action scenes and maybe a laugh or two and I'm reasonably satisfied. But this is one of those movies that figures if a scene worked the first time, then surely it'll work again the second. Got a kick out of Chris Tucker struggling to understand Jackie Chan's mangled English in the first movie? Then you'll howl over Chris struggling to understand a whole nation in the second! How about that scene with Chris and Jackie fighting a room full of martial artists in the first one? Well, they do it again, only this time they're wearing bathrobes! And Jackie's climactic slide down that long red tapestry in the first movie was pretty exciting, wasn't it? Then having both Jackie and Chris slide down a long wire strung with red Chinese lanterns will be twice as exciting, huh?

Well, actually, no. The stunt work here is depressingly generic. That tapestry slide in the first movie was neat because it looked real. The wire slide here looks fake as fake can be. There are a few moments here and there where Jackie wows us with a how'd-he-possibly-do-that move, but they're few and far between. Maybe, in the sage words of Danny Glover in another odd-couple action franchise, he's getting too old for this shit. And as for comedy, the Chan/Tucker chemistry is one of those things that depend on freshness and surprise in order to amuse. In the first movie, you could tell they didn't really understand each other, but were trying hard to do so. That's kind of funny. Here, you can tell they still can't really understand each other... but they don't seem to care anymore if they do or not. That's just aggravating. I did laugh once during the movie, but I won't spoil the gag for you here.

Even if Rush Hour 2 is barely a movie (and without those outtakes at the end, it would barely qualify as feature-length), it's a swell-looking DVD. The anamorphic widescreen image looks great, really bringing out the bright, neon colors of Hong Kong and Las Vegas. I noticed a few digital artifacts here and there, but very few and certainly nothing that distracted from the overall look of the picture. As nice as the picture is, the audio is even better, particularly in DTS. This is an active, enveloping track that does well with both sound effects and Lalo Schifrin's score. The Dolby Digital option is also good but not quite as open as the DTS. This is certainly the most fun I've had listening to a bad movie in years.

While I've watched a few of New Line's other Infinifilm titles, I've never played around with the feature much before, probably because none of the movies they've released under the banner so far have filled me with such enthusiasm that I've been inspired to go "beyond the movie". The official "Beyond the Movie" features here are not all that illuminating. There are some interesting tidbits about the difficulties of shooting in Hong Kong and an extended look at Jackie Chan's stunt choreography, but nothing I didn't already know. And while I certainly think the people producing special features for DVD deserve credit, am I the only one who's sick and tired of seeing credit sequences at the end of every single featurette, no matter how short and inconsequential it may be? We also get to see Brett Ratner's student film Lady Luck, which looks like every single other three-minute long student film I've ever seen, except that this one features Rebecca Gayheart. I have no idea what it's doing on this disc. At this rate, I expect to see a gallery of Ratner's holiday snapshots on the Red Dragon DVD.

Oh yeah... like the other Infinifilm titles, this one features a Fact Track subtitle option. Now... maybe on a movie that has at least one toe in reality, this might be kind of interesting. But here, there really isn't much to say, so we get a lot of information on the history of the Chinese Triads and the tensile strength of bamboo. I don't envy the people whose job it was to come up with these bits of trivia, but if you have to reach that far for something to write about, maybe you might want to consider dropping the feature altogether.

Coming back from "beyond", the All Access Pass contains several features that are of considerably more interest. First off, you get a commentary by Ratner and writer Jeff Nicholson (who, judging from the comments here, has the easiest job in Hollywood). They both seem to adore the movie, which can make this a little grating if your opinion of the movie is anything like mine. On the other hand, Ratner is very good about giving credit where credit is due and not just to the usual suspects like the cinematographer or the composer. Ratner also singles out his designers, his stunt coordinator, even his first assistant director (historically the least glamorous job in show business). And it's a good thing he does so because Ratner's praises are sung to high heaven in the featurette, Making Magic Out of Mire. Seemingly put together by the Brett Ratner Boosters of America, this is nothing more than an ode to Ratner's boundless talent. The Fashion of Rush Hour 2 featurette gives us some behind-the-scenes footage of costume fittings, as well as some funny outtakes from Jeremy Piven's brief cameo.

Wrapping things up are three Evolution of a Scene featurettes, which are OK and help to demonstrate just how much of this movie was made up on the spot. There's a Visual Effects Deconstruction that utilizes the multi-angle feature, but the scene chosen for this demo is so brief that it's not the best use of this feature I've seen. There are nine deleted scenes with optional commentary by Ratner, as well as another five minutes of outtakes. Wrapping things up are a handful of trailers and the standard New Line filmographies for cast and crew.

In the long run, my opinion of Rush Hour 2 counts for less than nothing because it apparently more than satisfied over $200 million worth of Chan and Tucker fans, making Rush Hour 3 an inevitability. If I had anything to say about it, the next sequel would find Carter out of a job thanks to all this vacation time he keeps taking and Lee doing everything in his power to prevent this loudmouthed American from relocating to Hong Kong. But I don't, so I imagine RH3 will be more of the same... except it'll start in New York, then probably go back to L.A. yet again, and hopefully end up in a country where neither Carter or Lee can understand the words that are coming out of people's mouths. That twist might help bring some freshness back to the franchise. Until then, I suspect most fans will spin the original Rush Hour a lot more than Rush Hour 2 on DVD, despite New Line's Infinifilm seal of approval.

Adam Jahnke

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