Monday, October 24, 2011

Movie Review: Rush Hour (1998)

Rush Hour 2 may be our sentimental favorite, but the original certainly has its strengths. For one, Jackie Chan's stunt work is far superior here than in the sequel. Though neither film really lets Chan's prowess completely loose (that is saved for less mainstream kung-fu fare, like First Strike and Who Am I?, where the story is tailored more specifically to showcasing action first and story second) in Rush Hour he has considerably more exciting and plentiful action scenes. You might consider this film (and its sequels, as well as other films made in the same buddy-cop-action genre, such as Shanghai Noon and Knights) a sort of primer for the uninitiated, and from here you can tackle his more straightforward kung-fu films if interested; there you will find Chan unshackled by the demands of Hollywood and its emphasis on dialogue. But the humor is brisk and lively in this one, though Chris Tucker is far more annoying here than in subsequent entries, spending his half of the screen time either yelling or reinforcing outrageous stereotypes, and quite often both simultaneously. The contrast between the high-pitched Tucker and the stoic determination of Chan is effective enough, though, and overall the film is extremely efficient storytelling. Recommended for Chan fans, but you might want to see First Strike or Who Am I? immediately afterwords if you want to really see what all the fuss is about.

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