Brett Ratner (1998, New Line Cinemas)
Starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Tom Wilkinson, and Elizabeth
A police officer and a foreign detective get in the way of the
FBI when they search for the kidnapped daughter of the Chinese diplomat.
September 23rd, 2001 on TV
Absolutely hilarious, from beginning to end, almost non-stop. The action was also pretty cool, and the
choreography was amazing, by both main characters and the bad guys.
Who cares about story when we have such terrific characters, such wonderful chemistry between lead actors. From the moment they meet, when Carter is aggravated by his baby-sitting job to the exasperation showed by Lee when Carter assumes he can't speak English, and all the way through the film, these two characters were made for each other. The actors played so well off each other that you would think they had worked together for years. I couldn't get over it!
As for the story: the Chinese consul in Los Angeles has lost his daughter in a kidnapping. The FBI are working on it, but the
consul wants his own man from Hong Kong to be in on the case. When Lee shows up, they assign an LAPD officer to keep the foreign detective out of the way, but the
guy is too smart for that. The FBI aren't too smart, but they are right to be seriously annoyed at the way Carter and Lee interfere with the investigation, as one thing goes wrong after another. But without them, the young girl would probably have been killed.
Carter and Lee go from an exploding building, chasing the lead culprit, who was in charge of organized crime in Hong Kong -and who got away from Lee at one point not long ago (at the beginning of the film), through another abandoned building. Lee gets exasperated all the while, because Carter seems to be ignoring his instructions. In actual fact, Carter can't understand Lee's English!
Carter uses the contacts he has (his cousin, who knows the streets, and a man he busted for carrying explosives) to locate the restaurant where the kidnappers are headquartered. In the scene with Carter's cousin, after he greets everybody with "hey nigger", Lee tries out the same greeting, with the very predictable, but very very funny, result of a big fight. Lee wins, but is very shaken.
While they are staking out the restaurant, Carter shows Lee how to dance, while listening to "good" music -rap. One of the many funny lines here included "never touch a black man's radio" combined with the look of absolute horror when a Beach Boys song comes on after Lee changes the station! Lee then shows Carter how to grab a gun from an opponent in several different ways, which looks like a dance itself!
The restaurant bust goes awry, with a terrific fight scene, but from which the bad guys escape, before the restaurant explodes. It is here that we learn the head of the kidnappers is actually the British leader of Hong Kong before it was turned over to China. He was the leader of the criminal organization there, and owned millions of dollars in supposedly lost Chinese artifacts, which were seized when Lee and the others of the
consul's agents broke up the crime ring. He wants monetary value of the items (though the amount he asks for seems quite low for that -but maybe he was being realistic).
Carter is likely suspended after this, and Lee is sent home to Hong Kong. But Carter gets him out of the plane before it takes off, and they go to the next drop-off location.
The restaurant was to be the second chance at dropping of the money, the consul's second chance. He gets a third chance while hosting the opening of the exhibit of Chinese artifacts in LA, the artifacts that were
retrieved from the crime organization.
The final battle at the exhibit was absolutely the best of the film. It was well choreographed, and it was intensely funny. To see Lee fighting two men while trying to save the precious artifacts at the same time (especially since one artifact is shot to
pieces after he spent minutes saving it from the thugs) is absolutely hilarious. I don't think I've ever laughed so much during an action movie.
Needless to say, they chase the British guy and his companions, kill them, and rescue the girl. The girl was dressed up in explosives, which Lee ends up wearing -and I really thought it would go off sometime during the firefight. But it was used as a deterrent to the fighting, since everybody knew that if they shot it, the entire building -maybe the whole block- would be destroyed.
The greatness of the movie really lies in some terrific lines combined with some great acting by the lead characters. It is difficult to convey exactly what worked in this film except to say that the two leads had wonderful chemistry on the screen. The fights used typical moves for
Chan (as I understand it -this is my first Jackie Chan movie), where he uses props as well as his hands and feet to fend off attackers. I thought that was really neat. And the comedy was so well written, and so well timed, that it just made the film a joy to watch.