Buddy cop movies are one of the few genres that can be made over and over again with the same basic premise and no one ever minds. Rush Hour doesn’t break any new ground, but Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan have an unmatchable chemistry that makes it nearly impossible not to love this movie.
Each lead has a scene in the beginning by himself, showing his life before he meets the other. It’s entertaining, but what it really does is prove how much better they are together.
The story takes off when a Chinese diplomat’s daughter is kidnapped by a crime lord in Los Angeles, he employs Hong Kong’s best detective, Lee (Chan), to help solve the case. The problem is, the FBI doesn’t want Lee involved, so they assign an LA cop, Detective Carter (Tucker), to essentially babysit him. Carter is the laughing stock of his department because he’s always bragging about himself with little evidence to back it up.
Lee and Carter don’t get along at first, which adds to the humor. The two come from opposite worlds, yet they find ways to bond. Whether it’s how neither of them are wanted for this case. Or how each of their fathers died in the line of duty.
Rush Hour has all the makings of a corny ’90s action film. The cliched musical score backs up an even sillier series of events. But the humor is organically hilarious and the story doesn’t become more complex than it needs to be, so we can see past its flaws. Over 20 years later, it holds up better than almost any comedy from that decade.