Like Buster Keaton and the other great silent comedians, Jackie Chan has relied upon the universal language of physical comedy to transcend the barriers of the spoken word. That is why the Hong Kong based Chan has become an international superstar, with legions of fans all over the world. However, since Jackie Chan's mastery of the English language isn't as precise as his mastery of martial arts and physical comedy, he has been teamed with comedian Chris Tucker (who jabbers enough for them both) for RUSH HOUR ($25), his latest American film. While I personally feel that Chan doesn't need any help in the comedy department, teaming the two men actually works to the advantage of both of them. With Chris Tucker as a buffer, Jackie Chan gets to do everything he is famous for, without English dialogue getting in the way. On the other hand, Jackie Chans presence has the ability to reign in Chris Tucker's comedic excesses; preventing him from taking things too far over the top.
The plot of RUSH HOUR doesn't break any new ground in the "action-comedy" or "buddy movie" genres, but it serves as an entertaining springboard that allows both stars to do what they do best. Jackie Chan portrays Detective Inspector Lee of Hong Kong, who comes to America at the behest of an old friend who just happens to be the Chinese Consul. The Consul requests that Inspector Lee aid the FBI in locating his kidnapped daughter. However, the FBI doesn't want any foreign interference mucking up their investigation, so they enlist the aid of the L.A.P.D. to baby-sit Lee. Of course, the L.A.P.D. doesn't want the job either, but they do have one problematic police detective they would like to keep out of trouble for a few days, so assign him to usher Inspector Lee around Los Angeles. Chris Tucker plays Detective James Carter, a loudmouth cowboy that the police department just can't seem to keep under control.
From the start, it is a culture clash as Lee and Carter discover that they have nothing in common, including the manner in which they conduct themselves as police officers. However, when they both discover that the FBI has put them together to keep them out of trouble, Lee and Carter team up in earnest to find the kidnapped girl. RUSH HOUR contains a number of snappy martial arts sequences that Jackie Chan fans are certain to enjoy, although his own death defying stunt work is more restrained than his Hong Kong movies. You know American insurance companies are not going to cover a film in which the star goes out of his way to try and get killed. Chris Tucker has a number of hilarious moments in which he opens his all too big mouth and winds up putting his foot in it. Tucker also gets laughs for trying to roll with the punches as well as Jackie Chan. The cast of RUSH HOUR also includes Tom Wilkinson, Tzi Ma, Chris Penn, Mark Rolston and Elizabeth Peña.
New Line Home Video has issued RUSH HOUR on DVD as part of their prestigious Platinum Series, offering the film in 16:9 enhanced wide screen. The Letterboxed transfer recreates the film's 2.35:1 theatrical framing almost perfectly, and it looks spectacular to boot. Colors are highly saturated and rock solid- there isn't a trace of chroma noise anywhere. Additionally, the image is crystal clear and highly detailed. Compression artifacts never made their presence known, thanks to flawless DVD authoring by Laser Pacific Media.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has an effective action movie mix with deep percussive bass and a lot of directional effects. All of the discrete channels come into play, including the surrounds, while the natural sounding dialogue remains pretty much dead center. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack has also been provided on the disc, as have English subtitles.
The interactive menus are nicely designed and contain full motion video and sound. Through the menus one can access the standard scene selection feature, plus the DVD's supplemental features. Topping the list of supplements is an audio commentary featuring director Brett Ratner. Anyone who enjoyed the movie will find Ratner's enthusiastic talk worth a listen. There is also an isolated musical score that also includes commentary by composer Lalo Schifrin. Additionally, the DVD includes two music videos (with commentary) directed by Ratner, plus Ratner's short film "Whatever Happened To Mason Reese." "A Piece of the Action" is a 40 minute behind-the-scenes featurette that has also been included on the DVD. A theatrical trailer, deleted scenes and cast biographies/filmographies help fill out the package. RUSH HOUR is also a PC Friendly DVD that includes the film's screenplay, Internet links and a trivia game.
Once again, New Line Home Video delivers the goods with another great Platinum Series DVD. RUSH HOUR is a hoot that Jackie Chan fans will want to add to their collections. Absolutely recommended.
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