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The first instalment in the Rush Hour series (yes, the third film is already in the works) teamed Jackie Chan’s Inspector Lee with Chris Tucker’s James Carter leading to some extremely funny consequences. Not only did it step above the usual buddy-cop action fare, the laughs and martial arts sequences turned the flick into a decent night’s entertainment. In the sequel they’re at it again, this time in a more convoluted but entertaining storyline that tries hard to build on the original film and create a bigger, bolder and funnier action flick.

James Carter is on vacation with Inspector Lee and predictably gets mixed up in some heinous crime from the outset. It seems big time Chinese gangster Ricky Tan is embroiled in a laundering scam with casino boss Steven Reign, so Lee and Tucker decide to intervene. Tan also has something to do with the death of Lee’s father, which fires up the little guy enough to make him kick some serious butt and do what he does best. There are obvious efforts to make the plot seem a little thicker with the introduction of a pint-sized assassin (played wonderfully by Crouching Tiger’s Zhang Ziyi) and a Latino detective who seems to be playing both sides at the same time. So not only have we been graced with a multi-cultural collection of action stars, but also enough ammunition to keep the story racing along with enough variety, fight scenes and humour to maintain the audience’s interest.

The whole American-Chinese thing is exploited to the hilt, as it was in the original, but this time the racially toned jokes have a slightly harder edge. And I’ll be stuffed if self-righteous, politically correct wannabes feel the need to get on their high horse and declare some of the references as racist and blaming the whole thing on Chris Tucker. Sure, fart jokes can be funny but there are some of us out there who would enjoy something with a little more bite and this film at least attempts to provide that. Who gives a stuff if Tucker’s character pokes fun at Jackie Chan’s English or makes reference to the small stature of Asian people? Big deal. Whilst not being at the top of the tree in terms of witty humour these jokes do stick, thanks largely to Tucker’s delivery and Chan’s willingness to have a go and play along.

Can't have a Chinese flick without karaoke!!
Once again the young and enthusiastic Brett Ratner is at the helm after heading up the first film, with the surprisingly brilliant Family Man slotted in between. As evidenced by his numerous appearances in the extras section this guy is extremely energetic and really ready to provide some entertainment without taking everything too seriously. He also seems to enjoy the benefits of the DVD format, which will probably ensure his films will get a decent treatment on our favourite format in the future.

There’s the usual recycled dialogue and familiarity that usually comes with a sequel, but on its own this flick holds up very well. It is actually quite funny even though I thought Chris Tucker had run his race after the original. Chan is his usual creative and talented self when it comes to the martial arts and does extremely well with the dialogue, to give Tucker a hand at providing the laughs. Add the beautiful Roselyn Sanchez and Zhang Ziyi into the mix and you’ve got enough talent to end up with a great night’s entertainment. Don’t expect an epic and you won’t come out disappointed.

Presented in 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced, the transfer really does come up a treat. Full credit to Roadshow who have exploited the careful cinematography by providing a particularly sharp and vibrant transfer. The awesome colours in particular stand out, with the lights of Las Vegas never looking so good. Blacks are extremely deep even though the use of bright colours is given a much higher priority. Overall a great visual transfer that is a treat to look at and does nothing to harm the enjoyment of a great film.

The disc comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 soundtrack, which shows that Region 4 is finally being recognised as a viable market. And the tracks don’t let us down. There is a noticeable difference between the two, with the DTS track providing much more punch and bass to the mix. Ambient sounds are terrific and full use has been made of the speakers, especially in the fight scenes and in the casino. Music plays a fairly big part with the inevitable oriental touch to the tunes. And believe me, when mixed together with the rest of the effects it makes for a great sounding disc.

The only times dialogue clarity becomes a problem is when Jackie Chan momentarily loses his grasp of English, so there’s no real worries on that front. Also included is a 2.0 soundtrack for those less fortunate.

The Jackie Chan fan club
First up we have a series of featurettes that go through the various processes of production. All of them seem to end quite abruptly which tends to suggest they were part of a much bigger single package, but the average attention span might not have coped with so much material at once so breaking them up is a decent alternative. If only they all didn’t have a credit reel at the end. Ho hum.

Most of the segments are pretty self-explanatory. Included is Making Magic Out of Mire with Director Brett Ratner, which is a standard sort of documentary, Evolution Of A Scene, which looks at three scenes in great detail, Culture Clash, dealing with the different cultures that were part of the film, and a host of other little vignettes that deal with costume, choreography and promotions. There is also a visual effects deconstruction which is humorously stated on the back cover as being multi-angel. Maybe Jackie Chan wrote the slick for New Line, who knows? The best thing about these featurettes is that they contain real behind the scenes footage rather than the familiar electronic press-kit style. We can watch Chan and Ziyi conversing on how to play the penultimate scene and Ratner trying to get Tucker to call someone a bitch. Good stuff.

The director’s commentary with Brett Ratner and Writer Jeff Nathanson is great to listen to, with Ratner really showing his enthusiasm for the film and movies in general. Some good information is imparted with only a few lapses into the obvious. Well worth a listen.

There is also a deleted scenes package, which includes a host of little cuts, some quite short, that were left out of the film for various reasons. Thankfully Ratner talks about why they were cut from the flick, which helps to put them all into context. The best part about this package is a series of outtakes that are different to the ones tacked on at the end of the film in usual Jackie Chan style. So we are treated to another batch on the DVD. Yippee!!

For some reason Brett Ratner decided to include a student film entitled Lady Luck which is a low-grade assassin film that is accompanied by an explanation from the man himself. This is a nice touch.

Probably the only downside to the extras is the audio quality of some of the featurettes, especially in one particular interview with Jackie Chan. This may have been as a result of a poor recording but after listening to glorious sound during the film this came as a bit of a shock. No big deal though.

Also rounding out the disc is the theatrical trailer and cast & crew biographies as well as an easter egg containing the Lord Of The Rings trailers in Dolby Digital 5.1. Sweet! Look in the easter egg section for more details.

Advanced Tai-Chi
This film almost surpasses the original. With a great cast, some elaborate action scenes and genuine humour with some much-needed bite, Rush Hour 2 doesn’t disappoint. Third instalments generally suck but I’m looking forward to the second sequel after this one, as Brett Ratner is bound to come up with some more creative ways to keep Inspector Lee and James Carter on their toes. A great video and audio mix coupled with a high-quality extras package makes this disc a clear winner and a definite worthy addition to your collection.