There was a little film called “Rush Hour” that came in 1998. It was a buddy cop comedy and action flick starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker that had two unnecessary sequels. It wasn’t something out of the ordinary, just a solid laugh out loud, “punch ’em” movie that was directed by Brett Ratner, whom Hollywood did not forgive for making “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Now, “Rush Hour” is a TV series by CBS and it’s not too good.
The most important thing about buddy movies is the leads. Remember “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “48 Hours” or “Lethal Weapon”? The lead actors were excellent in those films. Now, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker made an odd but cute couple which made the first “Rush Hour” work so well. In comparison, Jon Foo (“Tekken”) and Justin Hires (“21 Jump Street”) lack that spark.
It doesn’t help that the “Rush Hour” TV series feels very ‘90s with all the same clichéd tropes, the same type of racial jokes and similar story set-up. Ratner, being the producer of the TV show, probably is not helpful. Nostalgia can only take a material so far and no further. It should be kept in mind that only a pilot of the series has been released. So the creators, Bill Lawrence and Blake McCormick (“Cougar Town”), might be playing safe by trying to please fans of the original movie but as a TV series, it has to evolve and be its own thing to be successful. The world and racial relations have changed a lot since the 1990s.
The “Rush Hour” TV series deals with Hong Kong detective Lee (Foo), sent to Los Angeles to track and bring down a Chinese crime syndicate. He also thinks they killed his sister, Kim (Jessika Van). He has to team up with the fast-talking detective Carter (Hires), who has been given the job as a punishment by his boss (Wendie Malick) because of Carter’s tendency to continuously break the rules. As it is very clear, the story mirrors that of the original 1998 film very closely. Like in that film, Carter wants the glory for himself and lacks the patience to share an assignment with a partner and trust another person.
Foo is no Jacky Chan! He is not a funny man. He is mostly serious and hypnotically calm. These qualities are not necessarily bad because this is a reboot after all. Foo is a very good martial artist and he shows that in the pilot episode. However, the action seems very straightforward and dry, lacking the humour of the films. Perhaps a wee bit of humour will be injected in the fights when it begins airing.
Anyhow, “Rush Hour” seems derivative. Hopefully, the show’s producers will make it more exciting in the future, like CBS’s “Limitless.” “Limitless” was also based on a successful movie. However, the TV series created an original character and did not just use the film’s lead played by Bradley Cooper though Cooper plays has a small but significant role in the TV show.