Where’s the carpool lane?

Rush Hour 2

Directed by Brett Ratner

(Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Don Cheadle, John Lone)

Rated: PG13

Last week, I was at a local cafe ordering a delectable vanilla chai. After getting my sweet nectar and my seventy-five cents change, I noticed a cheerfully colored glass entitled “Karma Jar.” Like the Grinch-like fellow I am, I opted to use the coins on a couple rounds of the Love Tester. Bad move Sean, bad move. My punishment came in the form of Rush Hour 2.

I’ll abstain from dwelling on the formulaic and thus predictable plot, except for saying Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and LAPD Officer James Carter (Chris Tucker) get into another case, this time set in Hong Kong rather than Los Angeles. Instead I’ll focus on this movie’s strengths and weaknesses. Strengths … umm, never mind. Weaknesses … plenty.

Any sequel is damned into being compared to its original. However, when the dialogue looks this familiar, the screenwriter and director ought to be jump kicked. Some “new” material in Rush Hour 2 includes, “Don’t you ever touch a Chinese man’s radio!” “I’m Michael Jackson, you Tito!” and “What the hell did you just say!?” How sadly familiar.

The script has more problems than being a rehashing of the original. It seems Carter’s sole purpose of existence is to whiningly unleash a stream of racial slurs. Is Carter, by being black, granted some type of immunity for his Asian berating?

His ignorance of different cultures (namely that of Hong Kong) does not generate the “fish out of water” comedy that is expected. His bigotry is pawned off as “cup your mouth and laugh” comedy for the audience. Is calling his partner “Third world ugly” and hollering at a random passerby “Slow down, Chin!” really justified because it’s Chris Tucker?

Even more so, my heart cringed when I heard a callous Chan snap, “I’ll bitch slap you back to Africa!” Where the hell did that come from? According to Time Magazine, Jackie Chan is “the world’s most beloved movie star.” Act like it.

My expectations were low, but there should have at least been some value in watching Jackie Chan action sequences. I’d pay to see the guy on a lazy Sunday morning because, chances are, there’d be a death-defying flip somewhere in between getting the paper and sitting down for his Denver omelet. But if testosterone-riddled Jackie Chan action is what you seek, this is not your movie, try any Drunken Master flick. To my chagrin, the now-weary Jackie has come to the point in his career (and life, maybe?) where he’s just apathetically going through the motions.

– Sean McGrath


Rush Hour 2 opens today in theatres nationwide.