Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.
Release Date: August 3rd, 2001 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Brett Ratner Actors: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi, Roselyn Sanchez, Harris Yulin, Kenneth Tsang, Lisa LoCicero, Maggie Q
hanging the setting and missions doesn’t affect the entertainment value of the hip comedy team of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in this follow-up to 1998’s popular martial arts thrill-ride. The mismatched pair retains their amusing onscreen chemistry, while the action and stunts get crazier and more elaborate (a common goal for sequels), once again utilizing visuals to eclipse the storyline itself. The plot still suffers from obvious unoriginality, but in this second outing the villains and supporting characters have also been downgraded to an even more trivial state.
Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) is on vacation in China with Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan), who secretly decides to start investigating a case that may have ties to his father’s death several years back. When Carter and Lee are inadvertently embroiled in an American Embassy bombing case, their investigation leads them back to Los Angeles and then to Nevada to track down those behind the conspiracy. Along the way, they’re caught up in a deadly game of deception with the Secret Service and targeted for hostility by Triad crime lord Ricky Tan (John Lone).
Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan still make a pleasingly cinematic team; Chan’s calmer, cooler demeanor perfectly contrasts Tucker’s hysterics and nonstop yapping. Maintaining equal parts comedy and action, as well as the same fish-out-of-water formula that worked for the first film, the major cultural flip is now in Tucker’s role as the foreigner. New quirks include his appreciation for the Beach boys, while Chan now conversely favors rap – with Tucker’s fast-paced dialogue still gushing forth like a burst dam, all sorts of random subject matter are discussed. Additionally, recurring jokes about the language barrier and racial quips return through laugh-out-loud scenes in a karaoke bar, a massage parlor, and some hilarious voyeurism (involving Roselyn Sanchez as a sexy undercover agent). While nothing is terribly new, the action-comedy blend never gets unwatchable, despite the fact that there isn’t really enough fresh material to warrant a feature-length production.
Don Cheadle and Jeremy Piven make exceptional cameo appearances, while the majority of bit part characters are quite good. It’s a shame the same cannot be said about the major supporting cast. Roselyn Sanchez offers little more than eye-candy as the “playing them for fools” temptress whose subplot seems ill-contrived and ultimately unnecessary. A strong supporting female character would have been a wise addition, but Isabella’s character fails to provide such a presence. Zhang Ziyi as the evil female Triad assassin fills a role invented simply for its “cool” factor, but unfortunately, her over-the-top creation works for only a few scenes of intense action. Likewise, chief antagonist Ricky Tan feels overly generic and stereotypical, paralleling the basicness of the villain in the original film. Adding to the repetition is their nearly identical objectives and their strangely comparable demises.
Though fun, lighthearted, and action-packed, this sequel appears largely interchangeable with its predecessor. Due to their similarities and familiarities, it isn’t necessary to see the original beforehand, nor would it be confusing to watch them out of order. And as always, the blooper reel that runs through the end credits is so hilarious that it nearly justifies watching the whole movie in the first place.
– The Massie Twins