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New Line Home Cinema presents
Rush Hour 2 (2001)

"Lee, let me introduce you to Carter's theory of criminal investigation: follow the rich white man."
- James Carter (Chris Tucker)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: December 03, 2001

Stars: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Zhang Ziyi, John Lone
Other Stars: Roselyn Sanchez, Alan King, Harris Yulin, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven
Director: Brett Ratner

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action, violence, language, and some sexual material
Run Time: 01:29m:58s
Release Date: December 11, 2001
UPC: 794043540424
Genre: action comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BA-A A+

DVD Review

Swaying and gliding across the stage, Carter (Chris Tucker) belts out an impassioned karaoke version of Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough to a completely unimpressed Hong Kong crowd. Without Carter's knowledge, Lee (Jackie Chan) has taken them to a gangster bar for undercover work. Carter has no talents in subtlety however, and he immediately blows their cover and sends the villains scampering out the door of the club. Tucker's over-the-top, bombastic energy immediately takes center stage in Rush Hour 2 and leads him onto a thin tightrope between annoyance and hilarity. Carter is out of place in every situation in both Hong Kong and the United States, but the actor's sheer exuberance usually overcomes the limitations of his character. Whether you love or hate this formula, this sequel shamelessly tackles a similar structure to its extremely popular predecessor.

Once again, this feature offers an unbelievable collection of stunts from Jackie Chan through a series of brief action sequences. While it falls well short of the exciting, chaotic moments of such overseas efforts as Supercop and the Drunken Master films, the stunts remain dazzling. Chan spends this film hanging from bamboo scaffolding, sliding through casino cash windows, and displaying his usual array of death-defying, graceful leaps and falls. Although he's always been extremely popular nationwide, this series and Shanghai Noon have brought Chan to the forefront of mainstream Hollywood cinema. While toning down the longer action sequences, they still maintain the essence of his comedy and physical skills.

This story begins with the two cops investigating an explosion at the U.S. embassy that killed two American translators. Their efforts bring them to Ricky Tan (John Lone, The Last Emperor)—a cold, suave gangster with ties to Lee's dead father. This leads them to battles with Hu Li (Ziyi Zhang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), a beautiful young woman with a vicious streak of violence. Carter is no match for her fighting skills, and she beats him down several times and surprises the arrogant policeman. Of course, there's also the involvement of the "rich white man," a wealthy businessman played by comedian Alan King. Roselyn Sanchez provides sex appeal as Isabella—a customs agent with unclear motives. Following a few battles in Hong Kong, our fearless duo journeys back to Los Angeles to thwart an ingenious counterfeiting scheme. This leads them to an explosive finale in Las Vegas with the expected over-the-top stunt sequences.

Director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Family Man) returns to helm what almost assuredly will not be the last picture in the series. This film contains a structure and specific moments that completely mirror its predecessor, but they lack the same fresh excitement. Tucker takes his lively character even further this time, and some of his scenes are hilarious. Unfortunately, other moments fall flat and are totally unnecessary. Playing craps in Las Vegas, he goes into a tirade about race that just isn't very funny. Intended to provide a distraction for Lee, Carter accuses the dealer (Saul Rubinek) of being a racist, and he comes out on the losing end. With a variety of talents at his disposal, it's frustrating to see Tucker take the easy way out in this scene and follow a disturbing trend.

Chan has a bit more fun this time around, especially in a creative set piece involving a bomb taped into his mouth with an elusive detonator. Utilizing a few simple facial expressions, he perfectly conveys Lee's exasperation with the entire situation and his partner. Although Tucker provides some of the best laughs, Chan carries the story with his acting presence. Ziyi Zhing gives her character plenty of menace and is a worthy adversary to the stars. John Lone hardly lifts a finger throughout the film, but his character exudes power and evil. Jeremy Piven and Don Cheadle also provide silly, unbilled cameos that add spice to the simple story.

Rush Hour 2 includes Chan's usual collection of silly outtakes during the closing credits. The mistakes often provide bigger laughs than the actual film, and that occurs once again here. These shots reveal the enjoyable tone that pervades the entire production and its lead actors. Although its plot remains pretty conventional and doesn't improve over the original, this movie has a similar engaging feeling that's difficult to dislike. It ranks slightly lower than the first entry, but still injects enough excitement to generate an entertaining experience.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This impressive 2.35:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer nicely conveys images ranging from the scenic landscape of Hong Kong to the shining lights of Las Vegas. This is definitely a huge, big budget film, and the large sets come across nicely in this picture. While certain scenes appear a bit too dark, the overall brightness levels are solid and provide a decent presentation. It offers few noticeable defects, and the action sequences are clear and easy to follow. While not on the top echelon, this transfer works effectively and helps to create an enjoyable viewing experience.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: From the first bars of the score during the credits sequence, it's clear that this DTS track ranks among the better DVD releases to this date. The music flows smoothly throughout the room and emits a complex sound that accentuates the events on the screen. The explosions blast from this track with tremendous power and increase the intensity of these destructive moments. This is one of the best DTS tracks I've heard and presents both the music and forceful sound effects at their highest level.

The premier quality of the DTS track is especially evident when compared to the 5.1-channel Dolby Digital EX transfer, which appears much simpler and quieter. This is also the case with the 2.0-channel Dolby surround track. Both options are solid and also lead to an impressive experience, but they fall well short of the DTS version.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 TV Spots/Teasers
9 Deleted Scenes
8 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Brett Ratner and Writer Jeff Nathanson
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:14m:33s

Extra Extras:
  1. Visual effects deconstruction (four angles)
  2. Evolution of a scene (three)
  3. Fact track (subtitles with info during film)
  4. DVD-ROM features including script-to-screen and original website
  5. More outtakes
Extras Review: New Line has outdone itself once again with this Infinifilm version of Rush Hour 2. Anyone unfamiliar with this series of discs should definitely check out such top releases as Thirteen Days and Blow. This line contains the usual score of extra features, and it allows the viewer to choose them while watching the film. They're also available in the usual form through the normal menus.

Beyond the Movie
This section offers a series of featurettes that cover items beyond the usual promotional interviews and clips from the film. Jackie Chan's Hong Kong Introduction includes brief narration by Chan about Hong Kong's highlights over a travelogue-style video of the impressive scenery. Culture Clash: West Meets East presents the problems and variances of shooting in a much different culture. Director Brett Ratner also describes Chan's immense celebrity status and Tucker's odd experiences in Hong Kong. In a similar fashion, Language Barrier discusses the combination of cultures in this production and the different types of communication necessary to motivate each person. Both featurettes run for about four minutes.

Probably the two most interesting portions of this section are Attaining International Stardom and Kung Fu Choreography, which run for 7 and 9 minutes, respectively. The first segment speaks about the origins of the story and Chan's background and work ethic. While this piece has a little too much backslapping for him, it does provide some nice material. The second featurette covers the complex fighting scenes and their creation. Amazingly, Ratner shot over two hours of footage of one scene that lasts about 2 minutes. This segment offers plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of the action sequences.

Finally, Lady Luck provides a rare glimpse into the early works of Brett Ratner. This short fulfilled an assignment at NYU film school of shooting a black & white action piece with no sound. Ratner provides commentary over the film and discusses the basic story, which includes a female assassin played by Rebecca Gayheart—his girlfriend at the time. This area also offers the option of the fact track, which runs subtitles providing information on a wide range of items. Material runs about Michael Jackson, the actors, the history of the Triads, and numerous other material.

All-Acess Pass
This segment contains the more conventional inclusions on DVD releases, but there's still plenty of interesting elements. The highlight of this portion is the Evolution of a Scene, which takes three scenes and goes through each aspect of their creation. They include location scouting, casting, the rehearsal process, and the actual filming. It is surprising to notice the almost complete lack of a script during these moments. This feature explores the chicken chop, bomb disposal, and sliding finale scenes.

There's also a feature-length commentary from Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson. This track stays pretty scene-specific and offers some tidbits about the production. Ratner very enthusiastic about everything, and it's difficult not to get caught up in his excitement about the story. Both speakers offer some nice insights, but this commentary falls short of being fascinating. This probably occurs because much of the information already exists in the other featurettes. Some of this comes from Making Magic Out of Mire—a featurette that describes Ratner's working style through the eyes of his co-workers. He's definitely a silly guy, which connects well with this type of film.

This disc contains 9 deleted scenes that are mostly fun throwaways and pretty unnecessary. Philip Baker Hall reappears on the phone with Tucker to provide some badgering, but it makes little sense in relation to the story. Also, Tucker gives a nice rendition of Stevie Wonder's Superstition while wearing headphones on the plane. The option is available to listen to Ratner's commentary while viewing these scenes. This section also has 5 additional minutes of outtakes that have some good laughs. Chan struggles with the complicated English lines, Tucker does some improvisation, and lots of people fall down.

The remaining supplements offer a fashion featurette, a visual effects deconstruction (with four angle options), cast and crew filmographies, and one theatrical and two teaser trailers. There's also several DVD-ROM features, including a script-to-screen comparison and links to the original website.

Extras Grade: A+

 

Final Comments

I enjoyed the first Rush Hour film, finding it original and entertaining, but a sequel seemed pointless and solely created for monetary purposes. I avoided Rush Hour 2 in the movie theaters and did not have a major desire to see it on video. That said, this entry retains a surprising portion of the freshness of the original. The structure is remarkably similar, however, and it will probably not win over viewers who disliked its predecessor. The numerous fans of the original movie will almost certainly enjoy this one, though, and for them this feature-packed disc is strongly recommended.

 


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