Arthur J Pais
Tired of those special effects-laden dinosaurs and ape films?
Head then straight to Rush Hour 2 an engaging comedy, and a well-made sequel to the film that made Chris Tucker an international star, and his costar Jackie Chan a big name in America.
The new film also brings together director Brett Ratner, composer Lalo Schifrin and several other talents from the first film.
The plot this time is more complicated than the relatively simple kidnap drama of the original but with plenty of laughter and action, Rush Hour which was made for about $ 70 million, could be one of the biggest hits of the year, and certainly more profitable than the $ 100 million gorillas such as Planet Of The Apes.
If the preview audiences' reaction is any indications, and the enthusiasm with which trade publications have received Rush Hour 2, there certainly will be another sequel.
The squabbling-cop team of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon has had its day since the fourth film in the franchise had a disappointing $ 180 million gross worldwide three years ago.
Now it is Tucker and Chan time.
So expect Rush Hour cops to brace for more adventures.
The sequel picks up where Rush Hour left off, with inspector Lee (Chan) returning home to Hong Kong with the irritable Los Angeles detective Carter (Tucker) who is looking for some fun.
But Lee cannot resist work and offers to help probe a bombing at the US Embassy that has left two undercover agents dead. Carter cannot understand how Lee can be a workaholic but he cannot bring himself to stay away from his pal's new mission.
Audiences are immediately treated to many hair-raising and funny scenes in which the duo is dangling over a Hong Kong street on a bamboo branch, and then get into more messy situations.
The heroes soon move on to Los Angeles and Las Vegas in chase of drug lords and gambling bosses connected with the embassy bombing.
Among the villains they confront is Hu Li, played by Zhang Ziyi, best known for her villainish turn in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She goes for Lee, convinced he is a weakling. But a few minutes into the fight, she is changing her opinion fast.
In Las Vegas, the duo confronts a counterfeiting gang led by Ricky Tan (John Lone, best known for his brooding work in The Last Emperor), an ex-Hong Kong cop who had once known Lee's father. For Lee, the case becomes personal, since he suspects Tan was behind his father's death.
The plot of dirty money being laundered through American casinos does offer a number of pulse quickening situations including Jakie Chan's gravity defying feats and plenty of comedy.
But some of the charming elements in the first Rush Hour are missing here. In that film, we had Lee discover the American style of policing. Now, he is on home turf and it is Tucker's chance to know a bit about Hong Kong. But he does not have as many amusing scenes as Chan had in the first film.
The $ 35 million combined salary the two stars got was the subject of many stories in trade publications that also reported Tucker had received $ 20 million. This sequel saw their fee double from what they were paid for Rush Hour.
If the new film turns out to be more profitable than the first, the duo surely is in for a bigger windfall. And there is every indication that it would be.