Newsflash: Rush Hour is a good movie. I think that almost goes without saying. 24(!) years after its theatrical release, the movie remains an absolute delight to watch regardless of whether or not you had grown up with it or not.
Rush Hour (1998) follows an investigation led by Detectives Lee (Jackie Chan) and Carter (Chris Tucker) to find and save the Chinese Consul Han’s daughter, Soo Yung, after she’s been kidnapped by a crime lord. But, if I’m being honest, that’s not really the point of the Brett Ratner directed comedy. I mean, it’s certainly the plot of the movie, but it’s not why people continue to quote it to this day.
At the center of Rush Hour is an undeniable chemistry between its two leads that is an absolute delight to watch. Chan and Tucker don’t so much coexist on screen together as they continually try to one-up each other using their respective strengths as performers. Tucker’s performance is built around an impulsive and often loud personality, while Chan’s provides the aerobic skills and kind-hearted characteristics that he’s known for. What results from this is an extremely balanced buddy cop pairing that stands out due to their contrast, despite how crowded the buddy cop genre is as a whole.
And frankly, that’s why this movie works as well as it does. The plot is mostly serviceable and makes enough sense but it’s really just there to provide our characters with the setpieces that they need to entertain us, and it shows. There’s a sense of familiarity to the film’s many beats, but because they’re often punctuated with fantastic stuntwork from Chan or some genuinely hilarious and well-timed comedy from Tucker, it simply works.
Rush Hour is just a fun movie. And honestly, that’s all it needs to be. It knows what it needs to be, how to be it, and it ended up spawning two successful sequels using the same basic formula as this first film. It also may (?) be getting a fourth installment, assuming it ever gets out of development hell, and even spawned a one-season-long TV adaptation a few years ago but… well, that’s a story for another day.
Feel free to check out our podcast episode on Rush Hour for more of our thoughts on the 1998 action flick!
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