'Rush Hour' speeds along

September 18, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Jackie Chan has fast hands. Chris Tucker has a fast mouth. Together, they make fast work of "Rush Hour," an enjoyable enough take on the odd-couple-as-police-partners theme (think "48 HRS" or "Lethal Weapon").

Chan is Inspector Lee, a police detective who opens the film hard at work beating the bejeebers out of the entire Hong Kong underworld (as always, Chan's a joy to behold when he lets his reflexes do the talking). He's successful, but not entirely: When a local crime lord takes his bag of tricks to Los Angeles and arranges for the kidnapping of the Chinese consul's 11-year-old daughter, Lee is summoned to help the FBI find her.

But the FBI wants no part of his help, and that's where James Carter (Tucker) comes in. A rogue LAPD detective whose mouth is constantly set at warp speed, Carter's main purpose in life is to try his captain's patience. Which is why the captain relishes the idea of assigning him to babysit a Hong Kong cop the FBI wants nowhere near their case.

Of course, Lee and Carter have other ideas; each is convinced that only he can save the little girl's life. So that's what they set out to do, the whole time bickering with each other like some mismatched married couple (it's a given in these films that the partners always act like they don't get along, but they do).

Set in the days after the transfer of Hong Kong from Britain to China, "Rush Hour" is designed to give Chan, Hong Kong's No. 1 film star, a stronger foothold in Hollywood. And while the film comes nowhere near the adrenalin rush of some of Chan's Hong Kong films, it's full of what makes him so appealing, including his jaw-dropping athleticism (he does all his own stunts) and a willingness to have fun with his persona.

As for Tucker, he's plenty funny, but his character has nothing going for him save an ability to crack wise. The wiseacre attitude grows tired quickly, but his performance does serve as a nice counterpoint to Chan's more understated, but no less genuine, exuberance.

'Rush Hour'

Starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker

Directed by Brett Ratner

Released by New Line Cinema

Rated PG-13 (language, violence)

Running time: 94 minutes

Sun score: ** 1/2

Pub Date: 9/18/98

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