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Linda-Marie Singer is the Movie Maven

The Show Biz Maven

Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge RUSH HOUR
RUSH to see comedian
Chris Tucker
Click to Enlarge Reviewed by Show Biz Maven

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Slayings. Bombings. Explosions. Kidnapping. And that's just the first five minutes of RUSH HOUR, starring Jackie Chan as a Hong Kong detective sent to Los Angeles on special assignment. Predictions? Before the close of the 97-minute action film, the acrobatic performer will have unleashed a series of punches, kicks, jabs and chops that maim, cripple, or ultimately kill his attackers.

Fortunately for the creators of RUSH HOUR, not much in the way of medical equipment was needed, since Chan never requires so much as a Band-Aid. This after being shot at, battered, pummeled in the face and body, and then chased up and down stairs, rooftops and buildings. Surely not even your Show Biz Maven, who is currently enrolled in a Linda Evans fitness class, could wish for a more perfect aerobic exercise.

As part of the comedic workout, Chris Tucker plays an LAPD wise guy "assigned" to keep Chan occupied while FBI clods work on a top priority case. This brings to mind whether Chan had any power in hiring his co-star. If he had, he may not have chosen this particular actor who munches, bites and gobbles up every scene he's in. By outdistancing the star in the role of the goofball, Tucker reminded the Maven of what it's like to be performing with saucer-spinning Chinese acrobats and winding up the saucer.

As police partners, Chan and Tucker are so ill matched that even Neil Simon wouldn't juxtapose the two. But here they are thrown together in solving the case of a little girl, the daughter of the Chinese consul, kidnapped by thieves, murderers, mercenaries, and politicians. The Maven quickly assumed there was a bigger message here, but instead, screenwriters Jim Kouf and Ross La Manna focus on what it's like for a braggart cop to be teamed with a quiet but competent counterpart, who, while he can chop suey his way past enemies who should have eliminated him in his last movie, needs a charisma transplant.

No wonder Tucker doesn't want to be associated with him, even after Chan bedazzles us by dangling from a street sign in the middle of traffic, jumping calmly from a double decker bus into a rolling RV, and then flip flopping nonchalantly into a speeding taxi. You have to wonder - what more must a guy do to get noticed?

The answer is plenty around the egomaniacal American cop. At the precinct, he's regarded with bemusement, while one of his women colleagues, nicely played by Elizabeth Pena, ridicules him. You can almost hear her saying "Icky" every time he's around, so maybe it's a good thing that RUSH HOUR is not a drama, for the angst over her put-downs might lead the hero to a Suicide Prevention clinic run by Dustin Hoffman. Or, if the movie were adapted for Science Fiction, Tucker would be frozen in a test tube only to be rudely awakened by Sigourney Weaver.

In the end, it's the funnyman with his pseudo-squeaky voice, pop eyes, and Ebonic soliloquies that causes audiences to giggle like lunatics being freed from a belated Ingmar Bergman tribute. What's more, Tucker's snappy choreography to the song "War" is the show's best moment, although some purists would say it's the dialogue. You know, the usual verbiage which begins with "s" and ends in "t." For instance, Tucker tells Chan: "You're full of s---." He replies: "You're full of s…" and this repeats itself for those in need of an ear trumpet.

For curiosity seekers who must know what every crew member looks like, your Maven is guessing that Director Brett Ratner is probably a skinny guy who wears a backwards baseball cap and carries a whistle around his neck. With apologies to Bogie and Bacall, it's obvious that when Ratner put his lips together, with one blow Chan scaled skyscrapers, while Tucker prattled to anyone in danger of losing what's left of their minds.

With love & knishes from your Show Biz Maven.



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