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Rush Hour 2

Too much of something can never be good, and Rush Hour 2 is too much Chris Tucker. The original Rush Hour took everybody by surprise, becoming a box office hit and skyrocketing Tucker's salary into the stratosphere. Rush Hour 2 is a retread of the first, with more locations, more actors, Jackie Chan director Brent Ratner (The Family Man, Rush Hour) and worst of all, much more Tucker. This time, the roles reverse and James Carter (Tucker, Rush Hour, Jackie Brown) goes to Hong Kong to vacation with his friend Inspector Lee (Chan, Shanghai Noon, The Legend of Drunken Master). Realizing that there is not much of a plot, the action moves from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, eventually winding up in Las Vegas.

Carter and Lee unexpectedly embroil themselves in a plot involving Hong Kong Triads and superbills; counterfeit hundred dollar bills that are almost indistinguishable from the real items. They are looking for the plates used to counterfeit the money, and believe that Ricky Tan (John Lone, The Shadow, The Hunted) has them or knows where they are. One amusing thing to notice in all Chan movies is the apparent lack of credence given to small details. Tan was Lee's father's partner in the police. In real life, Chan is only two years younger than Lone. Anyway, Chan and Tucker follow Tan and Hu Li (Zhang Ziyi, The Road Home, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and get themselves into all sorts of trouble, all while Isabella Molina (Roselyn Sanchez, Held Up), who may or may not be an undercover Secret Service Agent, trails them.

The one great thing about Chan movies is watching his stunts. Chan is the modern day equivalent to Buster Keaton, and sheer joy and enthusiasm in performing his off-the-wall stunts usually more than makes up for his bad acting (and not just from his accent) and bad storytelling. The fact of the matter is that the stunts here are not that great. The downtime in-between them seems laborious. The sense of danger is still there, but the overwhelming feeling of ludicrousness is missing. It is more amusing watching the ever-present outtakes at the end. Great Asian actors like Lone and Ziyi reduce themselves to bad lines and constant grimacing.

Tucker's mouth takes the lion's share of the screentime. The bulk of the humor in Jeff Nathanson's script (Speed 2, For Better or For Worse) centers around racial stereotypes. Ratner is trying to milk comedy out of the interaction between Chan and Tucker. The joke is that they have no clue how to deal with each other because of their different cultures. None of the racial jokes are egregiously offensive, it is just the sheer volume of them flying back and forth between the two that lowers the comedic bar. What should be fun takes on a mean-spirited tone, regardless of any and all attempts to prove otherwise. It becomes tiring quickly, quicker because of their constant delivery from Tucker's high-pitched mouth.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 29 minutes, Rated PG-13 for action violence, language, and some sexual material.

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