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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Rush Hour 2 Infinifilm
Rush Hour 2 Infinifilm
New Line // PG-13 // December 11, 2001
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 5, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:


September of a few years ago, New Line paired up Jackie Chan with fast-talking "Money Talks" star Chris Tucker and "Talks" director Brett Ratner. "Rush Hour" was dumped into the middle of September by the studio, only to see the film run flying out of the gates, with a major opening and exceptional business in the following weeks. It deserved to, as well. A smart, edgy buddy-cop comedy, the two lead actors had great chemistry and, shockingly, it seemed as if the genre would be refreshed.

The inevitable sequel has arrived and the question remains - does the series continue at the same strength? Unfortunately, no. Working with a dissapointing screenplay from Jeff Nathanson (original screenwriter Ross Lamanna simply gets "characters" credit this time out), the laughs come occasionally and the action comes at a respectable rate, but the dialogue is pure generic buddy-action comedy banter and, after a while, it gets tired. Nathanson's previous credits include "Speed 2: Cruise Control".

The plot goes something like this: Inspector Lee (Chan) and Detective Carter (Tucker) are in Hong Kong - Lee continues to work cases while Carter is on vacation and getting increasingly annoyed that he's not actually getting any vacation time. Suddenly, there's an explosion at the US Embassy and Lee gets called into the case - dragging Carter along with him. Thus begins a mess of a plot revolving around counterfit money - or something like that. There's Isabella Molina, a customs agent who may or may not be working for the good guys; Ricky Tan, Triad boss and Hu Li, played by Zhang Ziyi of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Ziyi is the only one that makes any sort of impression in a handful of decent action scenes, but overall, she remains underused in the film.


A bigger problem in this second picture is Tucker, but it isn't Tucker's fault. In the original picture, Carter was a highly talkative character who used his mouth smartly to talk his way out of trouble. He was generally a good guy underneath and the first picture knew just how much to use Tucker. I've always liked Tucker's fast-talking antics, but used wrongly or too much and he becomes less entertaining (although this is nowhere near as annoying as his character from "The 5th Element"). Writer Nathanson doesn't seem to show an understanding of what made the character likable in the first picture - here, he's an arrogant character who walks directly into trouble and, as his mouth runs off, he finds that he's only caused worse trouble with the villians out to get them both.

There's a few jokes that are exceptionally funny, but for every joke that made me laugh, there's several that didn't even bring a smile. The funniest joke actually revolves around a callback of a joke from the first film, only this time it's Lee who asks Carter, "do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?". The other half of the film is the action sequences - many of which are respectable and occasionally impressive. Yet, Jet Li's "Kiss Of The Dragon" offered more consistent and more exceptionally choreographed and filmed action. Although rightfully respected action cinematographer Matthew Leonetti ("Strange Days") provides effective photography here, I much prefered the grittier, darker and more intimidating viewpoint of cinematographer Thierry Arbogast in "Dragon".


"Rush Hour 2" has some fun moments and it's a "Summer" picture, but I really didn't quite feel that it captured the magic of the original or really came back with the right balance of humor and action that the first picture had. Personally, I'm hoping that the third film (which is obviously going to happen) will recapture that mixture and add enough fresh moments and new style to liven the franchise.


The DVD


VIDEO: "Rush Hour 2" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen from New Line. The presentation is not without some minor flaws, but I thought the few blemishes that can be seen on occasion were not distracting, as the rest of the transfer is a beautiful presentation of Matthew Leonetti's glossy cinematography. Sharpness and detail is top-notch throughout the picture, as the disc remains consistently crisp and well-defined throughout, with no softness.

As per usual (or, well...often) with a new New Line title, the print is flawless - there's not even any pesky specks or marks. Edge enhancement is absent, as well - in fact, the only problem that caused some minor concern was a few very slight instances of pixelation.

Colors looked fantastic throughout, well-saturated and rich, with no smearing or other flaws. Black level remained solid and flesh-tones looked natural and accurate. New Line does their usual excellent work again here.


SOUND: "Rush Hour 2" is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1-EX and DTS 6.1-ES soundtracks. While the film's soundtrack boasts superb audio quality, this is not exactly an agressive sound experience. Lalo Schifrin's fantastic score is really the one element that is consistently offered by the surrounds, otherwise, there's only a few sound effects from the surrounds on occasion throughout the film. It's just that the film's mostly hand-to-hand fighting doesn't exactly offer lots of opportunities for surround effects.

Again, audio quality remained stellar throughout the picture. The score sounded fresh and vibrant and sound effects remained convincing and natural. Dialogue also sounded clear and clean, as well. While not a highly-agressive soundtrack, it's a fantastic presentation of the material.

MENUS: As always, New Line has come up with menus that are a lot of fun and a great introduction to the film. The main menu has a spinning Chinese food box with the score playing in 5.1 - the scene selection menu is even made up like a slot machine. Even the "Infinifilm" scene is nicely done, with "fortune" backgrounds. Be sure to carefully look through the "Chapter Selection" menus for two special extras...

EXTRAS::


Commentary: This is a commentary from director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson. I found the pairing a bit odd, given the fact that there's another documentary on the disc about how Ratner apparently "Made Magic Out Of Mire", which I would take to mean Nathanson's screenplay. Anyways, this is a fairly good commentary, but not Ratner's best. Instead of his usual excited personality, he seems slightly more subdued here in comparison to his other commentaries. Still, the track remained mildly informative, as both (recorded together) were able to share their opinions about the film's production process. Ratner does most of the talking, discussing how he was able to work with the actors and come up with ways to approach some of the film's key sequences. Some minor pauses of silence here and there throughout.

Featurettes: The "Infinifilm" area contains a group of small featurettes that focus on different areas of the production. Jackie Chan's Hong Kong Introduction is a short, just under two minute feature that has Chan discussing the culture and great things about Hong Kong. Culture Clash: East Meets West is certainly one of the features of this disc that I would have liked more detail on, as if presents an interesting subject: filming a movie with a mostly American crew in a foreign country. There's some good stories here, especially at the end, when the producer tells a tale about when he was with the director, scouting locations at a fish market. Language Barrier is a featurette about the different cultures that were represented on the "Rush Hour 2" set and how they all were able to communicate and get along. Attaining International Stardom is about just that - how Tucker and Chan were able to achieve greater success after the original film.Kung Fu Choreography is a feature about the style and concept-to-screen of the film's fight sequences. Lady Luck is one of Ratner's early short films, whose lead actress will be recognized by a few people. These featurettes occasionally touch on interesting subjects, but with their short lengths (an average of 4 minutes or so), they often just skim the surface.

All Access Features


Making Magic Out of Mire is the previously mentioned featurette, mainly focusing on how wonderful a director Ratner is. I think he's a great director, myself, but I'm not sure I needed a nine-minute featurette to reinforce that idea. Evolution of a Scene includes three documentaries which each deal with a different main sequence from the picture. These documentaries focus on the on-set process that the cast and crew have to go through to plan out a sequence and discuss what works best. The scenes are "The Bomb", "Chicken Chop" and "Slide for Life".Fashion of "Rush Hour 2" is a 4 minute look at the clothing of the film, mainly hosted by actor Jeremy Piven. Visual Effects Deconstruction is a multi (3 + final) angle look at the opening sequence. Deleted Scenes Inlcudes 9 deleted scenes with commentary from Ratner - personally, although it's always nice to see what was cut, I agree with these being taken out - I didn't find anything funny or interesting in them. Outtakes: 5:05 of some good laughs.

Also: This being one of New Line's "Infinifilm" titles, the "Infinifilm" option is available, which allows the viewer to jump to other text or video material throughout the movie, if the option is turned on. The film's two teaser trailers and theatrical trailer are available in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 audio. Cast and crew bios, DVD-ROM (including web-link and script-to-screen viewer) and a fact subtitle track also round out the supplements. Overall, I wouldn't say that the supplements rank as highly as some of New Line's other "Infinfilm" offerings, but in comparison to a film like "13 Days", where there's a wealth of background history to the story, the extras are fine for the kind of film "Rush Hour 2" is.


Final Thoughts: I understand that "Rush Hour 2" is what it is - a "Summer" action film. But, personally, I just didn't feel that the filmmakers really were able to recapture the magic or great balance of humor and action that the first film offered. There's really nothing that new here, even the wonderful Zhang Ziyi is somewhat underused as the villian of the film. Personally, I think a lot of the problems are based in Nathanson's screenplay, which is weaker than Ross Lamanna's from the original.

As for the DVD, it's another one of the "recommendations" that I've done a few times lately - if you liked the film, certainly go get the DVD - it offers a fine a/v presentation and some fine extras. Those who haven't seen it and are interested should try a rental first.

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