• Rush Hour



    Released by: Warner Brothers
    Released on: 12/7/2010
    Director: Brett Ratner
    Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker
    Year: 1998
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Brett Ratner, 1998’s Rush Hour, the first of three films to cast Jackie Chan alongside Chris Tucker, begins when a girl (Julie Hsu) is kidnapped on her first day of school in Los Angeles. As the daughter of Solon Hai (Tzi Ma), a Chinese diplomat, she’s in some pretty hot water so the F.B.I. arrives on the scene. Not content to let the American’s do all the work, Solon calls in one of his own men from Hong Kong, Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan). The Feds don’t want this getting too out of hand in the press, however, so Agents Russ and Whitney (Mark Rolston and Rex Linn, respectively) put some pressure on LAPD Captain Diel (Philip Baker Hall) who assigns his worst man, James Carter (Chris Tucker) to work as Lee’s partner on this case – the thought behind this being that Carter will keep Lee out of everyone’s hair.

    As Lee and Carter adjust to one another’s very different styles of police work, they have to avoid assassins, deal with bad guys, and beat the clock in an effort to save the girl all while trying to figure out who kidnapped her in the first place and why.

    First things first – how much you get out of Rush Hour won’t depend on your appreciation of action set pieces, your love of Jackie Chan or your admiration of Ratner’s workmanlike directorial style. None of this really sways opinion one way or the other and when evaluating this particular movie, it’s not going to be the deciding factor simply because those traits are all completely acceptable. What will make or break this movie for you really comes down to one thing and one thing only, and that’s the Chris Tucker factor. While some find his antics amusing, endearing even, there are those whose opinion of his ‘schtick’ is far less favorable. His voice fluctuations and completely over the top persona can easily grate on the nerves and take a situation that would be funny and turn it into something entirely unpleasant.

    Thankfully, Chan balances things out – which is probably the point of teaming the two up together in the first place. His inspector Lee is calm, collected and intelligent and while he may not always fit in with the Los Angeles sub cultures he finds himself zipping in and out of, his presence is the complete opposite of Tucker’s and it’s this contrast that gives the film almost all of its comedy. The story isn’t particularly riveting, though it does offer up a few opportunities for Chan to prove his skills, but the pacing is good and as long as you go into this one with expectations in check, it turns out to be a moderately entertaining movie, a time killer, really.

    The supporting cast members are all disposable though effective enough to keep things moving. All involved fit their roles easily and if no one stands out or really delivers a particularly memorable performance, no one brings the movie to a screeching halt either. Anyone going into this one expecting Chan to deliver the caliber of action and stunts he was able to bring to the silver screen in his younger days won’t be too impressed but if buddy/cop comedies are your thing and you don’t mind clichés and predictability, then by all means, turn off your brain and jump right in.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Rush Hour arrives on Blu-ray in a VC-1 encoded 2.40.1 1080p high definition widescreen transfer that may not stand up against more modern efforts but which definitely looks better than its DVD counterpart. There’s softness present throughout that sometimes results in a somewhat flat looking picture but detail is generally improved over the standard definition release while color reproduction and black levels are a fair bit better as well. Some haloing is noticeable in a few scenes and once in a while the colors look a little bit boosted, but overall this is a clean and detailed image.

    Audio chores are handled well by a DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix, in English, and the results are pretty impressive. Surround use is nearly constant and the levels are always well balanced. Dialogue is as clean and clear and easy to follow and understand as it should be while bass response is strong enough to provide some good kick now and again.

    The extras start off with a fairly mellow commentary from director Brett Ratner who, sadly, flies solo here without any help from Tucker or Chan. Regardless, his input is decent enough – he covers all the bases, such as casting, location shooting, stunt work and the film’s blend of comedy and action. He covers a good bit of ground here and is fairly thorough as he talks about how the film came to be. A second commentary track finds none other than composer Lalo Schifrin in front of the microphone to speak about his work on the picture and how he tried to tie the music into the action. It can be a bit dry at times but this isn’t something that’s usually covered in a commentary so there will definitely be some interest to those in Schifrin’s fan base.

    Warner Brothers have also supplied a decent featurette on this release in the form of the forty minute A Piece Of The Action which takes a pretty in-depth look at the production as a whole with an understandable amount of emphasis put on the action set pieces that highlight the picture.

    Rounding out the extras are two music videos – Heavy D. And The Boyz’s Nuttin But Love and Dru Hill’s How Deep Is Your Love? – both of which were directed by Ratner and come with optional commentary from him, three minutes of minor deleted scenes that have no effect on the movie, Ratner’s short film Whatever Happened To Mason Reese?, with optional director’s commentary, and the film’s trailer. Animated menus and chapter stops are also included. All of the extras on this disc were ported over from the DVD and are presented here in standard definition.

    The Final Word:

    Rush Hour isn’t a classic, in fact, it’s predictable and cliché from start to finish. It is, however, moderately entertaining thanks more in part to Chan’s fish out of water performance than anything else. Warner’s Blu-ray offers a noticeable upgrade in the audio and video department and carries over the extras from the standard definition release. This disc won’t convince those who don’t already like the movie but it’s fans should be pleased with the efforts on display here.

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