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Rush Hour 2

Rush Hour 2 is the second movie of the Rush Hour trilogy. Brett Ratner returns to direct, and Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker reprise their roles as Inspector Lee and Detective Carter. The movie starts with Lee showing Carter around Hong Kong in a reversal of the first movie. Now Chris Tucker is the fish out of water. How ironic. Before long there is a bombing at the US Embassy and it’s up to Lee and Carter to find out who is behind it and why.

They investigate the bombing and it leads them to a guy named Ricky Tan (John Lone), a former cop suspected of killing Lee’s father and currently a leader of the Triads. He’s wrapped up in an international counterfeit money laundering scheme involving a rich white guy from LA, a casino, and that chick from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Can Lee and Carter get to the bottom of things and solve the case before they get reunited for Rush Hour 3? I certainly hope so.

This is a by-the-numbers sequel. They looked at everything that was good and memorable about the first one, and they tried to tweak it and rework it for this one. Now Lee asks Carter if he understands the words coming out of his mouth. Oh look, they are singing along to the Beach Boys and Chris Tucker is doing a Michael Jackson impression again. I know they are trying to be self-referential but you can’t make the same movie twice. Rush Hour 2 is like The Hangover Part II, everything that happens in the first movie happens again in the second movie, only slightly tweaked and less funny. They used the same story to make an inferior movie, but it worked and made more money than the original. Rush Hour 2 is the highest grossing live-action martial arts film of all time, and that’s almost criminal. Why couldn’t Bruce Lee and Richard Pryor make a movie?

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Rush Hour (film, not traffic)

Rush Hour is a 1998 comedy/martial arts/buddy cop movie directed by Brett Ratner and starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. One is a hot shot detective from Hong Kong, the other is a loudmouth cop from LA. I’ll let you guess which is which. They are forced to work together when a Chinese diplomat’s daughter gets kidnapped. Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) is asked by the Chinese to solve the case, and Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) is asked by the FBI to distract Lee and keep him from interfering with the investigation. Carter and Lee don’t trust each other, they don’t like each other, but they have to learn to work together in order to solve the case and save little Soo Yung Han.

Jackie Chan is one of the most entertaining martial artists to ever grace the big screen. He can fight like a motherfucker and does all his own stunts like a badass. And he does some truly spectacular stunts. His fighting style is also unique. Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Chuck Norris… they all just punch and kick the bad guys. Jackie Chan punches and kicks them too, but he’s always trying to escape and avoid fighting. He uses the objects around him for defense and uses them to hurt the bad guys. It’s like parkour as a martial art. He’s not afraid to stand and fight, but he’ll run away if he can. It makes the fights more entertaining, more personal, and more realistic in a lot of ways.

Chris Tucker is talks loud and fast. He is obnoxious and annoying… and somehow endearing. His character is brash, arrogant, and totally full of himself. But he does the right thing when he needs to. Chris Tucker is obviously a Michael Jackson fan and he sneaks a lot of M.J. references into the movie.

The movie is entertaining. There are a lot of plot holes but the producers don’t care and neither should you. Brett Ratner will never win an Oscar but he knows how to make an action flick. The movie is pretty decent, way better than the sequels. The credits are one of the highlights (like most Jackie Chan films) where they show all the bloopers. You see Jackie messing up on stunts and see Chris Tucker messing up his lines. The chemistry they have off-screen carries over into the movie. You should have seen this movie already. A long time ago.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element is a cult sci-fi classic starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, and Chris Tucker. French director Luc Besson started writing the script when he was still in high school, so the film is a bit of a passion project and you can see the love and attention to detail despite all the plot holes and action flick clichés. Seriously, how many times does Bruce Willis have to save the day?

Every 5000 years, the Great Evil comes to destroy life, because that’s what you do when you are evil. There’s only one way to destroy the Great Evil, and that a collection of four magic stones that represent the four elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. When you combine the four elements with the Fifth Element you unleash the Divine Light that defeats the Great Evil. Obviously.

Bruce Willis plays Korben Dallas, a down-on-his-luck cab driver and former soldier who lives in New York City in the year 2263. One day a half naked chick falls into his cab and he decides to help her out for some reason. The half naked chick calls herself Leeloo (played by Milla Jovovich). Not only is she described as a perfect being, she also happens to be the Fifth Element and the only thing that can save our planet. Dallas takes Leeloo to Priest Cornelius (Ian Holm), a guardian of sorts who knows all about the Fifth Element and how to save the world.

A group of evil shape shifting aliens known as the Mangalores are working with a wealthy industrialist named Zorg (Gary Oldman). Zorg is working for the Great Evil and they are after the four stones. Zorg and the Mangalores have a minor disagreement that results in the Mangalores also trying to get the stones for themselves. The stones have been left under the care of a famous blue alien singer named Diva Plavalaguna.

Dallas gets recruited by the military to try to save the world. He and Leeloo win a rigged contest to go to a Diva concert. They get to hang out with Chris Tucker, and they also get attacked by the Mangalores, I can’t decide which is worse. But Dallas ends up with the stones.

The Great Evil unleashes a giant fireball towards Earth and Dallas and the Priest and Leeloo must find out how to use the stones and unleash the power of the Fifth Element. Of course they save the day and disaster is averted. And then Leeloo and Dallas have sex in tube in front of the President and a bunch of scientists. It might be one of the best endings of all time.

Luc Besson created a unique world that is instantly recognizable. Yeah, there are aliens and spaceships and flying cars and unrecognizable technology, but they also showcase how Korben Dallas lives. He lives in a tiny cramped apartment, but the space is utilized brilliantly. His bed slides into the wall. His shower and closet come down from the ceiling. He smokes cigarettes with super long filters. The technology doesn’t seem that far out of reach, it seems obtainable and practical.

The world seems realistic, but some characters are absurdly outlandish. Gary Oldman is a great character actor, but his performance as Zorg is off-putting. He uses a ridiculous accent and you can’t take him seriously. Chris Tucker plays the annoying D.J.  Ruby Rhod. His character is a cartoon. An annoying cartoon that has no place in an action/sci-fi flick. He has little to no effect on the plot; he just serves as comic relief. But you don’t need comic relief in an action/sci-fi flick. There’s also that reoccurring and unfunny bit with Korben’s mom constantly calling and complaining to him. The less said about that the better.

The special effects are decent for the time, but they use body suits for the Mangalores and other alien species and it looks cheesy. Mangalores should be intimidating; instead they look like cheap Halloween costumes.

This isn’t the best sci-fi movie, but you should see it. It’s a little bit different than most blockbusters. It’s not a Hollywood movie. It was made in France with a French crew and French director… so when you see it you can pretend like you’re cultured and are watching a foreign film. They made a sequel to this movie called The Sixth Sense, and that film moved the franchise into the supernatural realm. It’s a very different movie in a lot of ways; it’s hard to say which one is better. But both are required viewing to be a film buff.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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