June 13, 2024

New US martial arts cop comedy “Rush Hour”disappoints

If you plan to while away the hours on a rainy weekend with binge-watching, the new CBS buddy cop show “Rush Hour” is not the show to do it with. It is unfortunately nothing short of a flat copy of the excellent 1998 big screen martial arts action comedy “Rush Hour” and the leads are bland replacements of the hilarious Chris Tucker and the charismatic Jackie Chan starring in the original movie.


Nobody can blame CBS for trying though – which TV exec wouldn’t want to give birth to the next “Starsky and Hutch”, “Cagney and Lacey” or in the case of British buddy cop shows, “The Professionals”. Although it makes one wonder why the producers of “Rush Hour” didn’t try a little harder. Given the success of the big screen original and the enduring allure of buddy cop shows, a well-crafted TV adaptation would have surely won the hearts and minds of a sizable TV audience.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The reasons for this failure are many …. definitely more than great martial arts scenes in the TV adaptation. Former stuntman and long-time martial arts performer John Foo as Yan Detective Lee simply doesn’t get enough chances to reek havoc and when he does it’s all about the kicking and hitting with him – no sign of the elegant slapstick and physical comedy of Jackie Chan’s martial artistry. Unfortunately, Foo’s acting skills are also nothing to boast about. His partner Detective Carter, played by stand-up comedian Justin Hines, occasionally borders on being funny but again these moments are too far and between. And what’s more: Hines and Foo are routinely upstaged by Page Kennedy playing Carter’s cousin who is a small-time crook and Wendie Malick as Carter’s exasperated boss, Captain Cole. Given that we’re talking ‘cross cultural’ comedy here – Lee comes from Hong Kong, Carter from LA – there is plenty of room for comedic misunderstandings and mishaps but they all go to waste in this small screen cop show.

Almost everything in the TV sitcom is borrowed from its big screen sister – except for the charisma of the leads, the sharp one-liners and Chris Tucker’s magnificent Corvette (which has been replaced by a slightly lame Chevy Super Sport).

The basic setup of the plot also stems from the original movie: Hong Kong cop Yan Lee is sent to LA to track down some stolen statues, partnered with brash and fast-taking LAPD detective James Carter and remains in the US to help fighting a Chinese crime syndicate. The combo robotic, emotionless doing-everything-by-the-book-Asian-male versus rule-bending African-American chatterbox carries plenty of scope (as seen in the big screen version) but the execution is schematic, unconvincing and unfunny.

It doesn’t come as a surprise then that CBS has already pulled the plug on “Rush Hour” and decided not to renew the show for a second season.

by Frank H Diebel

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