So I watched Rush Hour…
I’ve seen this movie countless times – it was always airing on some or other channel when I was growing up. It’s a really enjoyable movie but, as with a lot of comedies, some of its themes just haven’t aged well. That being said, it’s still one of my favourite buddy-cop movies and a movie I’ll probably watch countless times more.
Okay, basic plot: Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) is a member of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force who is asked to come to Los Angeles to solve the kidnapping of a Chinese Diplomat’s daughter. The FBI see Lee as nothing but an unwanted tourist and assign him a babysitter to keep him busy and out of trouble – Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) from the LAPD. Initially hostile to each other, the two men overcome their differences and band together to solve the case themselves.
I think a good buddy-cop movie has to have three essential elements:
- Two lead characters with opposing styles/temperaments that are forced to work together
- A high profile case that they are thrown off of
- A big bad who’s played by a semi well-known actor
Rush Hour has all three obviously but the thing that makes the movie work so well is the chemistry between Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. The only thing faster than Chan’s punches and kicks has to be Tucker’s mouth. Individually they both offer so much entertainment and genuine laughs but together they’re an absolute riot. It’s a comedic duo made in heaven. It spawned a trilogy and a TV show that I will never watch.
Now while a lot of this movie’s humour is founded in the contrast between the clash of cultures of Tucker and Chan’s characters, the way some of the jokes are presented is problematic at best and straight out racist and misogynistic at worst. You could argue that the jokes represent the mindset of society at that time and, therefore, won’t be as politically correct as comedy is forced to be in the modern era. It’s not promoting discrimination, it’s just displaying it. Either way, certain elements of this movie have not aged but thankfully these kind of jokes are in the minority. The comedy flows through Jackie Chan’s remarkable stunt work and Chris Tucker’s ability to talk himself out of (but also often in to) trouble.
The movie just extends over what seemed to be that mandatory 90 minute runtime that all movies in the 90’s had to adhere to. In a movie like this, that runtime is more than sufficient to present its story. This film is well-paced and the action pops up in rhythmic intervals that ensures things never get boring. Its plot is a bit formulaic and the big twist about who the ‘big bad’ behind the criminal organisation is so obvious that a toddler could figure it out. It’s always the rich white man, especially if he’s British.
Overall, Rush Hour has some problematic elements but being a 90’s comedy, it’s almost unavoidable. This movie works so well because of the star power and charisma of its two leads. Its action is fun and, overall, it’s a fun way to spend an hour and a half. Definitely worth watching 7/10