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Like Buster Keaton and the other great silent comedians, Jackie Chan has relied upon the universal language of physical comedy to transcend the barriers of the spoken word. That is why the Hong Kong based Chan has become an international superstar, with legions of fans all over the world. However, since Jackie Chan's mastery of the English language isn't as precise as his mastery of martial arts and physical comedy, he has been teamed with comedian Chris Tucker, who jabbers enough for them both in RUSH HOUR ($25). While I personally feel that Chan doesn't need any help in the comedy department, teaming then actually works to the advantage of both performers. With Chris Tucker as a buffer, Jackie Chan gets to do everything he is famous for, without English dialogue getting in the way. On the other hand, Jackie Chan’s presence has the ability to reign in Chris Tucker's comedic excesses; preventing him from taking things too far over the top.

The plot of RUSH HOUR doesn't break any new ground in the "action-comedy" or "buddy movie" genres, but it serves as an entertaining springboard that allows both stars to do what they do best. Jackie Chan portrays Detective Inspector Lee of Hong Kong, who comes to America at the behest of an old friend who just happens to be the Chinese Consul. The Consul requests that Inspector Lee aid the FBI in locating his kidnapped daughter. However, the FBI doesn't want any foreign interference mucking up their investigation, so they enlist the aid of the L.A.P.D. to baby-sit Lee. Of course, the L.A.P.D. doesn't want the job either, but they do have one problematic police detective they would like to keep out of trouble for a few days, so assign him to usher Inspector Lee around Los Angeles. Chris Tucker plays Detective James Carter, a loudmouth cowboy that the police department just can't seem to keep under control.

From the start, it is a culture clash as Lee and Carter discover that they have nothing in common, including the manner in which they conduct themselves as police officers. However, when they both discover that the FBI has put them together to keep them out of trouble, Lee and Carter team up in earnest to find the kidnapped girl. RUSH HOUR contains a number of snappy martial arts sequences that Jackie Chan fans are certain to enjoy, although his own death defying stunt work is more restrained than his Hong Kong movies. You know American insurance companies are not going to cover a film in which the star goes out of his way to try and get killed. Chris Tucker has a number of hilarious moments in which he opens his all too big mouth and winds up putting his foot in it. Tucker also gets laughs for trying to roll with the punches as well as Jackie Chan. The cast of RUSH HOUR also includes Tom Wilkinson, Tzi Ma, Chris Penn, Mark Rolston, Rex Linn, Philip Baker Hall and Elizabeth Peña.

New Line Home Entertainment has made RUSH HOUR available on Blu-ray Disc in 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. RUSH HOUR is now about a dozen years old and the 1080p presentation, while generally solid, doesn’t look like a brand new movie, or a brand new master, for that matter. The levels of image sharpness and detail are fairly strong, plus the picture provides a nice bit of texturing, as well as respectable fine detail in the close-ups. However, longer shots appear less defined than said close-ups, and there are other moments where a bit of softness just seems creep in. Colors have strong saturation and produce attractive flesh tones. Blacks appear accurate, as do the whites. Contrast is smooth, but shadow detail is less than exemplary. The elements from which RUSH HOUR has been mastered are in very good shape. A grain structure is noticeable throughout the presentation, with it becoming slightly more noticeable during darker sequences.

RUSH HOUR is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The soundtrack is definitely more impressive than the visuals. The track delivers just exactly what one should expect from this type of enterprise- it is big, loud and aggressively mixed. All the outlying channels are utilized and engage frequently to ping pong sounds around the listening environment, which enhance the action, car chases and gunfights. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is just great, producing full-bodied musical component, as well as fully convincing sound effects. The bass channel is deep and shakes things up whenever required. Dialogue is well reproduced and maintains complete intelligibility. A Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the disc, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials, many of which have been ported from previous DVD releases. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Brett Ratner. There is also an Isolated Musical Score that also includes commentary by composer Lalo Schifrin. Next up is A Piece Of The Action, a forty-minute behind-the-scenes Featurette. We also have the Ratner directed short film Whatever Happened To Mason Reese, as two Music Videos directed by Ratner: How Deep Is Your Love? featuring Dru Hill and Nuttin' But The Love featuring Heavy D & the Boyz. Deleted Scenes and a Theatrical Trailer close out the supplements.

A dozen years down the road RUSH HOUR remains a hoot. The Blu-ray presentation is a bit uneven, with the audio besting the video. Definitely worth a look for fans.


Rush Hour [Blu-ray] (1998)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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