On the eve of Britain's handover of Hong Kong, Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) retrieves a valuable haul of art treasures from the villainous Sang (Ken Leung), henchman of crime boss Juntao. Two months later, Lee is called to Los Angeles when Sang kidnaps the daughter of Lee's friend, Han (Tzi Ma). The FBI, angered by Lee's involvement in what they see as their case, insist that he is partnered with their own disgraced detective, the unorthodox James Carter (Chris Tucker). Lee and Carter immediately clash, but the two men gradually develop a grudging respect for each other as they follow a series of clues to Sang's whereabouts.
The plot line may sound familiar: two mismatched cops are assigned as reluctant partners to solve a crime. Culturally they are complete opposites, and they quickly realise they can't stand each other. One (Jackie Chan) believes in doing things by the book. He is a man with integrity and nerves of steel. The other (Chris Tucker) is an amiable rebel who can't stand authority figures. He's a man who has to do everything on his own, much to the displeasure of his superior officer, who in turn thinks this cop is a loose cannon but tolerates him because he gets the job done. Directed by Brett Ratner, Rush Hour
doesn't break any new ground in terms of story, stunts, or direction. It rehashes just about every "buddy" movie ever made--in fact, it makes films such as Tango and Cash
seem utterly original and clever by comparison. So, why did this uninspired movie make over $120 million at the box office? Was the whole world suffering from temporary insanity? Hardly. The explanation for the success of Rush Hour
is quite simple: chemistry. The casting of veteran action maestro Jackie Chan with the charming and often hilarious Chris Tucker was a serendipitous stroke of genius. Fans of Jackie Chan may be slightly disappointed by the lack of action set-pieces that emphasise his kung-fu craft. On the other hand, those who know the history of this seasoned Hong Kong actor will be able to appreciate that Rush Hour
was the mainstream breakthrough that Chan had deserved for years. Coupled with the charismatic scene-stealer Tucker, Chan gets to flex his comic muscles to great effect. From their first scenes together to the trademark Chan outtakes during the end credits, their ability to play off of one another is a joy to behold, and this mischievous interaction is what saves the film from slipping into the depths of pitiful mediocrity. --Jeremy Storey