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Click above to purchase "Rush Hour: New Line Platinum Series" at amazon.com

 

Rush Hour
New Line Platinum Series

review by Ren C.

 

 

Rated PG-13

Studio: New Line

Running Time: 97 minutes

Starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker

Written by Rosa LaManna and Jim Kouf

Directed by Brett Ratner

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, Music Videos, Making-of Featurette, Brett Ratner Short Film, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Subtitles, Chapter Search

The buddy comedy is one of those genres that seems like it has been around since the very beginning of film. As such, it gets harder and harder to put a new twist on a genre that counts among its predecessors "48 Hrs." and the "Lethal Weapon" movies. However, this is something that "Rush Hour" manages to pull off very well, pairing what has been termed as the "fastest hands in the East" with the "fastest mouth in the West". I legitimately think that this is one of those movies that could not have been pulled off with other actors in the roles, just because of the unique gifts that both actors bring to the part.

The movie begins right in the middle of the action, set one day before Hong Kong is to be returned to Chinese rule. Detective Lee (Chan) reclaims millions of dollars of assets from a group of thugs. Lee returns to the embassy a hero to everyone but the consul's daughter Soo Yung. She is upset that Lee is not going to America with them, to which Lee reassures her that "America is full of friendly people."

From here, we immediately cut to downtown Los Angeles and James Carter (Tucker) screeching his way through traffic. We think that Carter is making a deal to buy explosives, but quickly learn that he is an undercover officer with the LAPD. This becomes important; as in the next scene, Soo Yung is kidnapped by the same man that Lee failed to catch in Hong Kong.

The FBI is immediately brought on to the case, and so, to their dismay, is Lee. They decide to have an officer baby-sit him so as to keep him out of trouble, but they decide if they have to have anyone do such a demeaning job, "why not humiliate the LAPD?" The LAPD is all too happy to get rid of Carter who thinks he is going to the FBI on a very important assignment.

The usual buddy comedy conflict ensues when Lee and Carter first meet, but soon after they decide to team up and solve the case themselves. Going into this movie, I expected nothing more than a typical clichéd buddy comedy, and I found myself pleasantly surprised. As I stated, with anyone other than Chan and Tucker, I don't think this could have been pulled off, as Chan combines his incredible martial arts skill with Tucker's great comic timing.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the great ensemble cast. While this is basically a two-man venture, the rest of the cast ably fills their roles and brings a depth to the movie that it wouldn't have had otherwise. Brett Ratner, directing only his second feature, helms the movie in such a way that makes the viewer think that he has been doing this for years. This movie was a surprise hit for New Line when it was released in theaters a few years ago, and with good reason. This is definitely a "word-of-mouth" comedy, where friends are telling friends to go see it. In this case, definitely take that advice, it's well worth it.

The more recent a film is, the more I tend to expect from it, and this disc definitely lives up to my expectations. For the most part, the transfer is pristine, although there were a few points where I noticed that the color was slightly oversaturated. However, the rest of the movie is crisp and clear, with no artifacts or edge effect to be seen.

I was thoroughly impressed with the audio here. Every sound in this movie came through loud and clear, to the point where I could hear birds chirping in the background in some of the quieter scenes. While this is a comedy, it is an action-comedy, so there are explosions and fight scenes galore, and these all come through with a lot of punch and kick, pardon the pun.

This is part of New Line's "Platinum Series", so that always virtually guarantees a feature-packed disc. This is certainly no exception. The feature list starts off with an audio commentary by director Brett Ratner. I've listened to quite a few commentaries, and I think that Ratner might be one of the most enthusiastic participants that I've ever heard. He eagerly goes into detail on the making of the movie, who he cast, how he cast them, where he shot, and virtually everything else that a person would want to know about the making of Rush Hour. He literally does not let up for more than a few seconds, which is something I always enjoy about a commentary.

Next is an isolated score track with commentary by composer Lalo Schifrin. The score for this movie was really good, which actually was not something I noticed until I listened to this track, because it tended to be subtle in the actual movie. I enjoyed listening to the music but Schifrin's comments tended to be limited to the nature of the piece and how he composed it. A nice touch is that whenever there is no music or comments, the dialogue is brought back up.

Also included is a featurette on the making of the movie, although I'm hard pressed to call it a featurette considering it runs about forty minutes. This is a very entertaining combination of cast and crew interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage, that has literally no promotional feel to it. I think that this was exclusive to this disc, and made me appreciate the movie all the more. Especially enjoyable is the interplay amongst the cast and crew on the set that showed that they truly had a good time making this movie.

A set of six deleted scenes is included, running a little under three minutes. All of these scenes are of the nature where they could have been included in the movie without sacrificing any quality, and, by the same token, could have been left out of the movie and had the same effect. None are particularly earth-shattering, just adding and developing some plot points.

I really enjoyed the next feature, Brett Ratner's student film from NYU, "Whatever Happened to Mason Reese?" For a student film, this is very accomplished, and an optional commentary with Ratner details some of the methods he used to make it. Two interesting notes: First, the film was partially financed by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, and second, the film features the first ever acting appearance of Rebecca Gayheart.

Ratner mentions a couple times in the featurette that he met Chris Tucker while directing a music video, and coincidentally enough, that video is included here. The video is by Heavy D for the song "Nuttin' But Love." While the video isn't exactly groundbreaking it is entertaining, especially with Ratner's optional commentary. Another video is included here, this one from the "Rush Hour" soundtrack for Dru Hill's "How Deep Is Your Love". I'd like to take this opportunity to mention that if you weren't looking that closely, you could easily mistake Sisqo for Chris Tucker and vice versa. Ratner provides a director's commentary for this video as well, and I'm beginning to think that there is no limit to the things that Ratner can talk about.

We wrap up the disc with the two prerequisites, namely the cast and crew biographies and the theatrical trailer. If you're planning on reading the bios, you may want to bring a magnifying glass as they are printed in tiny text.

This was a surprisingly entertaining movie, and it is loaded with features that are entertaining and informative. The transfer is top-notch, and I definitely think that this is a movie that contains a lot of replay value. As such, I feel that I can safely give it my highest recommendation.

(3.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(5/5)

(4.5/5)

(4.5/5, NOT an average)

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