How's this for a cinematic culture clash that out-''Rush Hour''s ''Rush Hour''? An American badass (Samuel L. Jackson) paired with a Hong Kong action honcho (''Bride of Chucky'''s Ronny Yu) in not-so-sunny Liverpool. Despite the locale's dreary rep, Jackson says ''It's pretty off the hook. It's a college town, so there's a huge rave scene.''
That club-and-drug backdrop is a fitting destination for Jackson's on-the-run character, who's concocted a narcotic 51 times more potent than anything on the market. But after double-crossing his drug-lord boss, the golf-loving, kilt-clad chemical brother heads to England, where he's partnered with a motormouthed hood (Robert Carlyle), and stalked by a hitwoman (Emily Mortimer). So what does the mucho-macho Jackson wear under that Scots skirt? ''Most days I wore [it] traditionally -- sans underwear,'' he reports. ''But on days where I had to run and jump, they made me wear something so we didn't have to spend money to CGI, you know, nasty parts.''
They apparently would have had plenty of time to do it, as Yu's reported $28 million comedy was shot almost two years ago, and made its debut in England last winter as ''The 51st State.'' ''They were trying to find an American distributor that wouldn't tamper with it,'' Jackson says (it was picked up by Sony's Screen Gems division). ''They were trying to see if the American audience would get the [British] humor.''
THE LOWDOWN Will that humor play better here than it did across the pond, where ''51'' was KO'd by critics?