Most successful bickering-buddy pairings soon come back for more punishment - Riggs and Murtaugh, for example, struggled though four Lethal Weapons until both of `em were gasping: "I'm too old for this shit." Which is why it's so perplexing that we've had to wait three years to see Jackie Chan's chop-socking Inspector Lee and Chris Tucker's gobshite cop James Carter back on the case. Especially as their initial teaming proved such a surprise hit.
Despite the delay, the Tucker/Chan combo has lost none of its spark, even if Rush Hour 2 offers little more than more of the same. Tucker still hasn't grown out of his screechy, fast-talkin', poon-hound persona, but, as in the previous Rush Hour, he at least knows when to reign it in. It's a bit of a shame, though, that both he and the screenwriters have to rely so much on race-based humour. When Lee asks him to blend in in a Chinese gangster bar, Carter quips: ""How can I? I'm two feet taller than everyone else in here!" "When Carter accidentally punches Lee during a fight with some Triads, Carter moans: ""But you all look the same!"" And when Lee loses his temper with Carter at one point, he threatens to "bitch-slap" him "back to Africa". You get the idea...
But then this is supposed to be a culture-clash comedy, and there's no denying that both Tucker and Chan can get away with it, because - - quite frankly - - neither of them are white. And even if this element does grate, Chan's ever-wonderful slapstick kung-fu gymnastics are always on hand to smooth things over.
As in his previous Hollywood outings, the stunts are a little more subdued than in his Hong Kong heyday, but even though he's pushing 50, he's still more fun to watch than the Segals and Van Dammes of this world. If Rush Hour 2 proves anything, it's that Jackie Chan will never be too old for this shit.
Packed with dastardly Triads, smuggling operations and fights down the docks, it's action-movie-by-numbers - but for Jackie Chan's acrobatic antics. Chris Tucker's as borderline irritating as ever, but he and Chan still make a satisfying tag-team.