Movie and DVD Guide

Find Movies and Tickets

Choose Your Movie

All movies
or
Rush Hour (1998) Back in the days of "Beverly Hills Cop," it was hard to imagine that a comic would ever want, or need, to speak faster than… 1998-09-18 PG-13 Action/Adventure Comedy Mystery and Thriller Jackie Chan Chris Tucker Ken Leung Tzi Ma Tom Wilkinson New Line Cinema
Movie Review

Rush Hour (1998)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Find theaters showing Rush Hour in your area

Jackie Chan, Rush Hour

HANGING IN THERE Chan shows off his skill with body language

EW's GRADE
C-

Details Release Date: Sep 18, 1998; Rated: PG-13; Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Mystery and Thriller; With: Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker; Distributor: New Line Cinema

Back in the days of "Beverly Hills Cop," it was hard to imagine that a comic would ever want, or need, to speak faster than Eddie Murphy, the machine-gun-mouthed master of street braggadocio. Chris Tucker, the only performer worth watching in "Rush Hour," speaks much, much faster than Murphy. He's a verbal speed freak, spewing entire sentences--sometimes two at a time--in a single frenzied thought blast. Tucker likes to pitch his voice as high as a banshee wail, and he drops consonants as if he didn't have the time to enunciate them. He sounds as if he's channeling some funky Southern housewife/diva as she sasses her misbehaved son. If the hint of gender-bending mockery is sheer play, so is the gaze of pop-eyed fury that Tucker applies to just about every white person on screen.

With his angry hustler's put-on screech, Chris Tucker, at times, flirts with turning himself into a scamp minstrel show. Yet even that he does knowingly--satirically. Anarchic yet sleek, he's a razory jester who's in desperate need of being cast in a wild comedy, and not just some rubbishy generic "action comedy." His whole antic persona is based on his not giving a damn about the big picture--Tucker's sole focus, à la Groucho Marx, is on what's directly in front of him--and that attitude only reinforces the cruddiness of a vehicle like "Rush Hour." The film isn't worth giving a damn about either.

Tucker's bad-boy cop is paired with a Chinese superagent played by Jackie Chan, the Hong Kong action star who is now threatening to turn into a minstrel show of his own. The two characters team up in Los Angeles to locate the kidnapped 10-year-old daughter of a Chinese diplomat. Chan still doesn't speak very fluent English--his body tends to do the talking for him--and in Rush Hour, the communication barrier becomes a springboard for the film's only sustained concept, as the exasperated black cop tosses off "harmlessly" racist Asian jokes. (Tucker to Chinese thug: "I been lookin' for your sweet-and-sour chicken ass!") None of this would matter as much if Chan the martial-arts demon had been allowed to cut loose, but he gets only one great combat moment, in which he fights off a bunch of attackers while trying to prop up a priceless vase.

Like Tucker's last star vehicle, 1997's "Money Talks," "Rush Hour" represents the dregs of the buddy comedy. The two characters barely even have a relationship; they're a union of demographics--the "urban" market meets the slapstick-action market. Chan deserves better, but then, he's had better. Tucker is another story, a dervish of a comic who has practically been baptized in clichés, yet always brings a touch of original madness to them. He's so much faster than the movies he's in. He wouldn't be the first star to force Hollywood to play catch-up.

Originally posted Sep 18, 1998