Rush Hour 2

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I’ve never understood why people cheer when sequels repeat the same jokes and tag lines from their predecessors. It’s nice that we recognize them, but shouldn’t we acknowledge that it’s a prime example of why sequels suck — i.e., they’re usually just a rehash of what we’ve already seen?

The two most famous lines from the 1998 buddy-cop film “Rush Hour” were from Chris Tucker. First, he warned Jackie Chan, “Never touch a black man’s stereo!” Later, he tried to get him to comprehend his fast-talking, whiny voice with: “Do you understand the words that are comin’ outta my mouth?”

In “Rush Hour 2,” Chan says these lines to Tucker! Can you believe it?! It’s the ol’ switcheroo! What will those geniuses in Hollywood come up with next?

This time, Tucker is vacationing with Chan, his LAPD partner, in Hong Kong. They get roped into working a big case involving a Chinese gangster (John Lone), an American casino billionaire (Alan King), a double agent (Roselyn Sanchez) and a kick-butt assassin (Zhang Ziyi, from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).

So Tucker gets to make all the fish-out-of-water jokes, wondering why people are selling live chickens in the street and desperately trying to speak Chinese. Are there the same old jokes where he THINKS he’s saying something innocuous in Chinese, but when Chan tells him what he ACTUALLY said, it turns out it was something crude or nonsensical? Yes. Yes there are jokes like that. Yes indeed.

Jackie Chan’s fighting scenes are as funny and impressive as ever; one wishes there were more of them. The talking parts, which can be amusing if you find Chris Tucker funny, are low-energy, focusing too much on the recycled action-movie plot instead of on verbal interplay between the two leads. And the jokes that ARE here all boil down to this: Black people and Chinese people are different!

The closing credits are accompanied by a very, very funny collection of outtakes. I laughed twice as much during this segment as I did during the rest of the film. My suggestion? Show up 95 minutes into the movie.

C (; PG-13, some profanity, brief partial nudity, a lot of action and martial-arts violence.)

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