Rush Hour 2 (2001)

(In theaters, August 2001) While I didn’t love the first Rush Hour film, I liked it a lot: The mixture of Jackie Chan action, Chris Tucker’s loudmouth antics and general sense of fun (not to mention the racial diversity of the film) made it one the little surprises of 1998. I was looking forward to the sequel; Brett Ratner know how to deliver and it was hard to see where he’d fail. And yet, for a while, it looked as if he would: The Hong Kong section of Rush Hour is, generally, a notable flop: The screenwriter doesn’t do anything interesting with the Tucker-out-of-his-element premise, makes him talk way too much (in dangerous situations where you start to wonder how he ever survived up to this point) and even adopts a slightly patronizing tone. There are a few good action sequences, but that’s it. Then, happily, the film moves back to the United States and improves sharply. (It might or might not be a coincidence if we get a lingerie shot of Latino beauty Roselyn Sanchez at approximately this moment. On a similar register, Ziyi Zhang is menacing and adorable in the henchwoman role.) The film then keeps on getting better and better until the Las Vegas climax, by which time a middling film is rescued by a greatly enjoyable conclusion. But, at times, it was a close thing.

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