Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rush Hour

   It's easy to dismiss Rush Hour as nonsense from the late 90's, and maybe you're not missing much if you do, but holy crap is it more fun than I remember it being. It certainly holds up better than Bad Boys did. Mainly due to the fact that Chris Tucker is funnier than Martin Lawrence in the 'funny one' role, and Jackie Chan plays the 'straight-faced' cop surprisingly well. Their dynamic is much easier to mine comedy from, and the story is a damn sight better than anything Bad Boys had to work with.

    The movie has no reason to work as well as it does, and a lot of the humor unfortunately boils down to "one's black and one's Chinese and that's why it's funny", but when the script relies on Tucker and Chan to sell the jokes, they pull through with flying colors. It helps that the two of them got on famously behind the scenes. At some point you feel like you're watching two friends just have a hell of a fun time playing cops and blowing stuff up. The sense of fun is infectious. The movie is paced smartly, never allowing long lulls in the laughs or the action.

   I found myself easily engrossed in the silly hijinks of Rush Hour, and getting nostalgic for the time when it was still big laughs to imitate Tucker's "DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?" which just seems kinda ignorant and vaguely insulting now, but I guess that was always the point. The movie's plot eventually reveals that Tucker's character is more than just a selfish loud mouth, and that Chan's character can loosen up. It's all elementary school silliness, but it's still a lot of fun. It's slick, fast, and stuff blows up really well.

   I still prefer Jackie's Chinese movies to his American ones, but there's something irresistable about Rush Hour. You can call director Brett Ratner a hack all you'd like, and maybe you're right, I certainly won't disagree... But, still, he had something with this buddy cop duo. It's a serviceable entry in a junk food genre. It's dated in the worst possible way sometimes, but if you can overlook that, it ends up being a blast. If there was any movie that could go home with the mantle of "Lethal Weapon of the 90's" it's definitely Rush Hour.

   Sure, the plot is ultimately just a vehicle for 80-something minutes of easily set-up East meets West jokes, but sometimes all you really want is 80-something minutes of easily set-up East meets West jokes. Along with lots of shooting and punching of course. If this is one of those movies you've already seen a hundred times, maybe this won't come as any big revelation for you, but I think I'd seen it once or twice before? So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be way more fun and engrossing than I remember. For maximum effect, you should snatch up the blu ray trilogy, turn off your cell phone, and pop lots of popcorn. Can't go wrong at that point.

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