Tuckered out

Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan demonstrate what can happen if your mind’s in the gutter all the time.

Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan demonstrate what can happen if your mind’s in the gutter all the time.

Rated 2.0

What’s more irritating than the very existence of Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2? The answer: Besides evil little elves holding you down and pouring concentrated acid into your ears while farting, absolutely nothing.

Jackie Chan is a likable movie star. He’s the kind of guy who makes a bad movie good just by being there, sporting his warm smile and, of course, nearly beheading himself during some outrageous stunt for our cinematic pleasure.

In Rush Hour 2, there’s more of Tucker’s high-octane, high-pitched, highly abrasive rambling than all his past movies combined, and there’s less of Chan busting himself up. The movie relies heavily on Tucker’s shtick, and while he’s made me laugh in the past (Friday, The Fifth Element), the Rush Hour films represent him at his worst. Not helping matters much is the near supporting role Chan winds up inhabiting in favor of more time for Tucker’s screaming like a banshee. In short, Tucker is far more tolerable, even funny, in short bursts.

Chan and Tucker begin the film driving around in Hong Kong while listening to the Beach Boys, and this, of course, means we must endure Tucker singing “California Girls” in a tone that would make a deaf man say, “Hey, something’s hurting my ears!” The two are subsequently thrown into some hackneyed plot involving counterfeit money, bombs and massage parlors, all of which provide Tucker with opportunities to irritate.

So why don’t I just slap my worst rating on this one? Because this movie does have Chan, and while his stunts and fight scenes are few and far between, they are still some of the greater stunts you will see in a film this year. I loved a sequence where Chan raced up bamboo scaffolding on the side of a building and picked off bad guys, hurling them to the street below. I can’t recall any fight scene this man has been in that didn’t drop my jaw at least once.

The film also features Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as a mysterious villain, and while her material is woefully beneath her, she makes the most of it. There’s a good fight scene between her and Tucker, which features an impressive high kick to Tucker’s puss. Incidentally, I saw Rush Hour 2 the same day I witnessed Ziyi delivering one of the year’s best performances in The Road Home (see film capsule review to your right), where she doesn’t kick anybody.

While enduring the bad parts of Rush Hour 2, I couldn’t help but look forward to Shanghai Noon 2. In Owen Wilson, Chan has the perfect on-screen partner, funny in a laidback sort of way and a nice, calm compliment to the fists of fury mayhem. Tucker is a screen hog, but I would say that because I’m a Chan fan.

As with all Chan films, one of the greater elements (and the best part of Rush Hour 2) is the outtake reel during the credits. It’s during these precious few minutes that we see just how much risk Chan is willing to take for a stunt. Unfortunately, even this part of the movie is marred by numerous scenes of Tucker screwing up his lines, although a moment involving his cell phone, something not scripted, is probably his best in the film.

With the near-$70 million take Rush Hour 2 enjoyed at the box office this past weekend, be assured that Rush Hour 3 is on the way. Let’s hope a vocal coach corners Tucker before that film is produced and teaches him the wonders of not speaking like a man who just got a Doc Marten to the balls.