Rush Hour (1998) Review

Although the buddy cop film has been done so many times before that there is little to add to the genre, there is something about Rush Hour that makes it special. Even though it brings absolutely nothing new to the format and follows all the same beats that any movie of this kind would usually follow, it manages to get by on charm and chemistry. And it helps that it stars Jackie Chan as well.

Jackie Chan is always good entertainment and Rush Hour is no different. He brings his own unique brand of slapstick martial arts to the Western genre and it translates perfectly. The action sequences are well-staged and by this point, Chan is perfect at mixing impressive, super-fast martial arts with comedy moments and what seems like a constant stream of improvisation. The moment the fists start flying, you can’t help but be entertained.

Chan is funny as well. Buddy cop movies survive on their comedy within the mismatch and Chan is paired with Chris Tucker. As is the way of these films, the pair do not initially get along, with the clash of the loud-mouth, rash and brash American paired with the calm, stoic but surprising Asian detective. It would be easy for Tucker to be the comedy and Chan to be the straight man but the pairing doesn’t work that way, with Tucker as exasperated by Chan’s lack of Western culture and Tucker getting it all wrong when it comes to dealing with Chinese gangsters. They have great chemistry and some of the best scenes involve them in a car fighting over music or squabbling during an interrogation.

Its this chemistry that just about saves Rush Hour because very little else elevates the movie above others of the same type. The action is solid but little we haven’t seen before. The villains are just a reverse of the heroes, with an endless amount of Asian henchmen for Chan to fight and the plot is predictable. Even the “villain reveal” is so clearly outlined that its insulting to consider it any sort of twist. As a vehicle for Chan’s action and Tucker’s comedy, Rush Hour works though.

Overall, Rush Hour is a solid example of why buddy comedy works every time if the chemistry is right. It does nothing new with the genre and follows the same beat as every other type of buddy comedy but Chan and Tucker’s chemistry and comedy elevates it. Add to this Chan’s impressive martial arts and you have a solid action movie.

Rating – 3

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

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