TCM: Saturday 22 August, 9pm
Chris Tucker is spending vacation time with his Rush Hour pal Jackie Chan when an explosion at the US embassy brings the buddy-cops into conflict with Triad boss John Lone and an FBI undercover operation. The first film got away with its transparent filching from Eddie Murphy cop movies in general and 48 HRS in particular, but the transposition this time is simply a lazy reversal, like Crocodile Dundee 2. So instead of Jackie Chan being the fish out of water in Los Angeles, now it’s Tucker’s turn to play Coogan’s Bluff in Hong Kong. But not for long. The story starts in a blandly generic notion of China, with dialogue casually invoking supposed jokes about sushi and samurai swords. Which suggests the writers don’t much care where the movie is set either. Tucker and Chan are soon enough sent packing back to the United States, searching for the type of hoodlum who’s not hard to find: one who frequents massage parlours and holds lavish parties on boats in the harbour. John Lone’s luxury yacht and Alan King’s Vegas casino are both called Red Dragon, presumably because director Brett Ratner wanted to celebrate being hired to do the remake of Manhunter. Smug and lazy – it’s not a great combination, and Lalo Schifrin’s disappointingly corny music doesn’t make it any more exciting. There are a few laughs amid the efficiently staged action mayhem, but some of Tucker’s non-stop dialogue is offensive. “Sorry, man,” he says when slapping Chan in a fight against a horde of Chinese bad guys, “all of you look alike.” Later, he’s not so polite: “You Third World ugly, I’m tall, dark and handsome.” Well, it’s true there’s no light or shade in his performance. Tucker is full-on all the time and it’s as wearing as watching a show-off child charging around the room. Don Cheadle elects to appear unbilled. Rush Hour 2 doesn’t look so hot on the CV, I guess. Channel 4 has 2007’s Rush Hour 3 at 10.35pm. There’s some strange casting in this one, too: Roman Polanski is a Paris cop, a Japanese actor plays Chan’s brother, and heavyweights like Max von Sydow and Philip Baker Hall turn up in tiny roles. Caricatures so crude they wouldn’t make the cut in a National Lampoon picture, a succession of shoot-outs and chases that make little sense, hordes of henchmen who couldn’t hit a cow’s behind with a banjo, and slapstick stunts up the wazoo. Nothing, in other words, they haven’t done before – twice.