Rush Hour 2

Rush Hour 2 (2001)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Alan King, Zhang Ziyi
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Numerous Featurettes, Visual Effects Deconstruction, Fact Track, Trailers, Filmographies and so much more

After the success of Brett Ratner’s 1998 action comedy "Rush Hour, " New Line quickly made plans to follow up the meeting of East and West with a sequel. Part of the challenge was of course to bring Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker back together, a challenge that is not exactly trivial given Chan’s hectic schedule and cost the studio quite a bit if money. Eventually they succeeded and after an impressive run at the box office this summer, "Rush Hour 2" is now on DVD as another one of New Line’s acclaimed "infinfilm" releases.

This time around, Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) is visiting Lee (Jackie Chan) in Hong Kong. Friends after their match-up in the original "Rush Hour," Carter is determined to have Lee show him everything Hong Kong has to offer during his vacation, but immediately after Carter’s arrival, Lee receives a call that puts him on a new case – the bombing of the American Embassy in Hong Kong. With Carter in tow, Lee visits a nightclub for an incognito investigation, but before he can even turn around, Carter attracts all the spotlight. Quickly the two are caught in an investigation of the Hong Kong triads and their own internal power struggles and wars.

Before the background of Hong Kong, "Rush Hour 2" almost seamlessly continues the story of Carter and Lee. The film is once again carried by the on-screen chemistry of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, although Tucker’s character has been degraded quite a bit, turning him into a "mouthy" sideshow with little else to contribute in terms of skills. So, all the real work falls effectively onto Jackie Chan, who manages the part with bravado. With all his acrobatics and stunts, Chan once again ignites the screen – albeit considerably restrained due to the heavy security and safety limitations such a Hollywood production imposes on him as opposed to a no-holds-barred Hong Kong movie. On the other hand, this restraint gives the two main characters to focus on their comedic interplay a little more, making "Rush Hour 2" another light-hearted and greatly enjoyable action comedy.

"Rush Hour 2" comes to DVD as part of New Line’s infinifilm line of special editions. The movie is presented in its original 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio from a print that is meticulously clean. No blemishes or mars in the source distract from the movie and the image is absolutely stable and sharp. A little too sharp for my taste, especially since edge-enhancement has been applied quite liberally, resulting in visible ringing artifacts in a good number of shots. I am not sure why New Line – a studio that is otherwise know for its top notch transfers – has decided to apply edge-enhancement to this particular title, but I believe that an untreated presentation of the movie would have looked every bit as good, if not a tad better with more naturally defined lines and edges. That aside however, the transfer is beautiful. Colors are very strong and finely delineated bringing out the beautiful hues and shades of the scenery. The contrast is also very good, making the nighttime scenes in the streets of Hong Kong beautifully neon-flooded, almost impressionistic, imagery. Blacks are very deep, giving the image good visual depth, while highlights are well-balanced. The compression has been done as skillfully as on any New Line release, without introduction of compression artifacts.

The audio on the DVD is equally impressive. Coming as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> EX presentation as well as a <$DTS,DTS> 6.1 track, "Rush Hour 2" boasts an explosive audio track. Making very aggressive use of the surround channels, including the additional rear center channel, the viewer is literally thrown into a maelstrom of sounds and noises from all directions. But the track also makes good use of more subtle ambiances, bringing the bustling streets of Hong Kong and Los Angeles to life in a realistic and engaging manner. The frequency response and dynamic range of the track is impressive indeed, just as you would expect from such a new movie. Dialogues are well reproduced, and are not drowned out for the most part. Occasionally a sound effect may get in the way, but it’s nothing too serious that would distract from the movie experience itself.

The DVD also contains an audio <$commentary,commentary track> by director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson. The commentary is very informative and especially Ratner offers a wealth of information on the production and his cast. Whether he discusses his influences, locations, his ambitions, the experience of shooting in Hong Kong, his technique and certain shots, or some anecdotes and memories he has from the set, Ratner is always entertaining and pleasant to listen to. Nathanson is much more restraint but also offers quite some valuable insight, especially in terms of the character development of the main characters.

Being an infinifilm release from New Line, the DVD is filled with supplements and extras. Like all infinfilms, the movie offers the options to access special features as you watch the movie. A banner at the bottom of the screen appears, displaying options for additional information at any one time. Sadly, as a result of the banner, all <$CC,closed captions> had to be moved to the top of the screen, now covering heads and important parts of the actual image. I guess there’s always a price to pay…

Due to the nature of infinfilm, the DVD is filled with countless little featurettes and footage on a wide variety of subjects. These materials can be viewed either as the infinifilm feature while you are watching the movie, or separately by accessing them individually from the "infinfilm Features" menu. On this disc you will find a beautiful introduction to Hong Kong by Jackie Chan that makes you wish it were longer. But also featurettes about the language barriers encountered during the production, as well as cultural differences are explored in such features. But also some information about Jackie Chan, the Kung Fu choreography in the movie, the costumes, the visual effects and so much more are covered in these extra features – too many to detail here, really. Another cool infinifilm feature is the "Fact Track," a subtitle track that goes along with the movie, pointing out facts and background information as you watch the film.

Apart from the hilarious bloopers that are part of the end credits – an obligatory addition of any Jackie Chan movie – there is another set of outtakes and bloopers to be found on this disc. It contains great moments and is definitely worth checking out. The movie’s theatrical trailers and teasers are also included on the DVD, as well as filmographies of the main cast and crew, nicely rounding out this release. The menus on the disc are well-done and nicely keep within the Asian theme of the film, and especially the Chinese horoscope additions were a truly nice touch.

"Rush Hour2 " may have a few lapses is continuity and logic – I never knew the FBI has complete authority over the Hong Kong police and simply commands the Hong Kong police force – but I found these things less distracting than in some other films. Given its racy nature and its self-irreverence, the movie simply is too much fun to allow the viewer to be distracted by such trivialities. The DVD comes along with all the bells and whistles you could possibly ask for and the only question I have left is "How did they fit all this stuff on a single DVD?"