A hero is being hung down from a helicopter some 200 feet above. As the sun bets down, he swings about. Suddenly, a top needle of a skyscraper is pressing toward him. He fails to dodge and bumps heavily on the concrete needle.
This stimulating shot impressed in numerous Jackie Chan fans. Now it's the “rush hour” to be repaid for that devotion for him. As an Asia’s favorite action hero, he has finally conquered Hollywood. Rush Hour, Chan’s new made-in-America blockbuster, rocketed to the top of the charts on its opening weekend in the United States, winning an unexpected cross-over audience. In three days, the box-office tally was $33 million — the highest weekend gross ever for New Line Cinema. Now in its sixth week in American theatres, the film, directed by Brett Ratner, has so far taken in more than $117 million.
Chan had already scored when such films as Rumble in the Bronx and First Strike were released in mainstream theatres in the U. S., and not just in Chinatown and specialty video stores. Now Rush Hour has turned Jackie Chan into a household name the way Enter the Dragon made a legend of Bruce Lee.
The bi-racial pairing and good cop/bad cop storyline are predictably formulaic 一 Chan is Chinese and co-star Chris Tucker is black 一 similar to such films as the Lethal Weapon series starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Yet the producers have wisely focused on the strengths of the two stars: Tucker’s hilarious, rapid-fire jive-talk, and Chan’s nimble derring-do in tight spaces and high places.
Long-time Jackie Chan fans may find his antics too familiar and the film’s slick editing relying more on camera tricks than real stunts. After all, Chan is almost 58 years old and Hollywood insurance codes prohibit actors from performing some of the outrageous stunts for which Hong Kong films are famous. Still, Chan has always been considered one of the most popular and respected stars in the Chinese film world. Given the typical typecasting of Asians as hookers or triads, Jackie Chan’s relaunch as an action hero in the West is a resounding triumph.