Hollywood.com: As sequels go, was Rush Hour 2 as good as the original?
Kit Bowen: Not really. I think the surprise chemistry between Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in the first one was something fresh. In this film, it seemed a little stale. The same jokes over and over. And Chan didn’t do as much fighting in the sequel, which was somewhat disappointing. Maybe the guy needs a break.
Noah Davis: As red-blooded Americans, we crave more action in a sequel than in the original. That’s why there were more dinosaurs in The Lost World: Jurassic Park than in the original, and more in Jurassic Park III than The Lost World. And what’s the point of bringing in high-flying newcomer Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) if she isn’t going to fight Chan. Though the movie was OK, it certainly was disappointing when contrasted to the first.
Hollywood.com: Jackie Chan keeps playing the same role over and over again. Is it time for him to move on?
Noah Davis: Chan is starting to slow down. But Jackie Chan slower than usual is still one of the four or five most exciting physical performers the movies have ever seen. There are reasons why he should start to move beyond cop roles, besides the clichés of cop movies and the lousiness of his role here (the sight of Chan as the smiling, slightly bewildered foreigner is getting old). There have to be other sorts of comedy that would be a good fit for somebody as charming as Chan. His best moments in Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 are the modest, unassuming ones. When he steps out of a bus, somersaults gently across the roof of a taxi and slides into the open passenger window, it gives you a little lift. It’s the same feeling I get watching someone like Fred Astaire cock his top hat and you think it’s the most graceful thing you’ve ever seen.
Kit Bowen: I don’t think I necessarily agree with my young and longwinded friend here about comparing Chan to Fred Astaire, but certainly Chan has charm. He just seemed a bit tired in this movie. Maybe he wants to branch out and combine his talents. Hollywood sure thinks he’s hot. His name has been linked to about 100 projects in the last few months.
Hollywood.com: What do think Chan has done for the marital arts formula?
Kit Bowen: He’s certainly brought it front and center in the U.S. theaters. Not since Bruce Lee has martial arts been so popular. But unlike those cheesy, badly dubbed Lee movies, Chan brings that Harrison Ford quality to his action heroes. He gets hurt and makes you laugh. And now there’s newcomer Jet Li. We’ve got to get these two together.
Noah Davis: Given his longevity, it’s easy to forget how utterly revolutionary his work is. Not only because the now-40ish Chan routinely performs film stunts that nobody else would dare to, but because he was the first Asian movie star to elevate kung-fu filmmaking beyond trite chop-socky fare. Chan uses simple ingenuity: ladders, skateboards and other random household objects are his stock in trade. But Chan‘s true gift is his regular-guy personality. Bruce Lee was the inarguable hero in every frame of his tragically brief career, but in Chan‘s best work he’s a great antihero: a wisecracking victim of circumstance who, like Buster Keaton, always stumbles across a new way to get out of each predicament.
Hollywood.com: There’s been a rash of popular martial arts movie hitting the mainstream. But what’s your favorite Jackie Chan film of all time?
Kit Bowen: Chan is what got me watching these movies, since I’ve never been a huge fan of martial arts movies. I didn’t want to, but someone dragged me to see Rush Hour. And I thought the stuff he did in it was amazing. Truly. But my favorite martial arts movie now is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It goes beyond the moves. And it’s the women who get to kick ass.
Noah Davis: Honestly, Kit. Now everyone will know you don’t know the difference between chop suey and chop-socky. Crouching Tiger, with it’s surreal (and aided-by-fishing-line) stunts, can’t hold a candle to Jackie’s work. Jackie has made close to 90 movies, and while I haven’t seen them all, I’ve seen many. I guess I’d say … Cannonball Run. No, not really. His finest work is probably in 1985’s Police Story, and the Shantytown stakeout scene is arguably the greatest fight sequence he’s ever done.
Kit Bowen: OK, well, we’ve lost Noah now.