- English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- English SDH, Spanish
- Commentary by director Brett Ratner
- Additional scenes
- Featurette gallery: A Piece of the Action: Behind the Scenes of Rush Hour
- Brett Ratner's short film: What Ever Happened to Mason Reese?
- Music videos
- Isolated score with commentary by composer Lalo Schifrin
- Theatrical trailer
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Rush Hour (Blu-ray)
New Line / 1998 / 98 Minutes / Rated PG-13
Street Date: February 08, 2011
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Reviewed by Aaron Peck
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
If ever an actor was a one-trick-pony it's Chris Tucker. He never ventured out of his fast-talking, high-pitched, verbal barrages in any of his films. You wonder if there's actually a script written for him or if he's just making it up as he goes along. Tucker's acting career is a strange one. He rose to fame relatively fast, and then made boatloads of money with his 'Rush Hour' trilogy. After the third 'Rush Hour' he disappeared from the acting limelight, and can now be seen sitting courtside at Laker games. It's a tough life.
Now for another one-trick pony, Brett Ratner. His directing filmography reads like a student film class on "how to make brainless movies, and still become relatively famous." In my eyes, 'Rush Hour' is tied with 'Family Man' for Ratner's best flick. I may give the edge to 'Family Man' just because it was a departure from the normal turn-off-your-brain-and-go action films he churns out over and over. So, yeah, when the best films on your resume are 'Rush Hour' and 'Family Man' there's not much to look forward to.
Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) is a Hong Kong detective who's hot on the trail of artifact smugglers. That is until he is eluded by his nemesis, Sang. Still Lee is able to recover the stolen artifacts, and all is well, right? Wrong. In Los Angeles, Chinese Diplomat Consul Han has his daughter kidnapped. The kidnappers are asking for a ransom. Han wants Lee flown in from Hong Kong to help out with the case, but the FBI is throwing in all the clichéd "this is our jurisdiction" bull crap that they can. Seriously, if the FBI is really run like we see it run in movies and TV shows, FBI agents must be the most arrogant, moronic law enforcement officers out there (I'm glad that's not the case). Still the FBI doesn't want Lee coming in and gumming up the works of their finely oiled operation so cue Det. James Carter (Tucker).
Carter is one of those movie cops who does everything a cop isn't supposed to do and gets away with it. He shoots into crowded streets filled with moving cars and people. He blows up explosives without a second thought that there may be innocent bystanders nearby. In short he's a Brett Ratner action hero; more than enough annoying chatter and machismo to go around, but sadly lacking in the brain cell department. Carter is assigned to babysit Lee and keep him out of the way.
We all know what's going to happen now. Carter and Lee, even though they are supposed to not be involved with the investigation, become deeply mixed up in it. They unravel the clues as the FBI sits around arguing about who has jurisdiction over what. Pretty easy to steal a case out from under the FBI when they don't even know what's going on.
'Rush Hour' is dumb fun. As the franchise progressed it became dumber and less fun. With the first movie, however, Tucker's antics haven't yet become quite so grating and Ratner hadn't established himself as a truly hackneyed director (Editor's Note: Watch the documentary Before, During and 'After the Sunset' on the 'After the Sunset' DVD for a jawdropping look at a director's ego gone wild (when Ratner bothers to get off his cell phone that is.)).
With all the time we've spent talking about Tucker and Ratner, we haven't talked at all about Jackie Chan, who makes this movie watchable. At least his one-trick-pony skill – dispatching bad guys with various, amazingly choreographed, acrobatic martial arts moves – is exciting to watch and never gets old.
'Rush Hour' is presented in 1080p, with a VC-1 encode. It would seem that this is the same master as the DVD, as is evidenced by the same over-indulgent edge enhancement that's plagued the DVD release. Edge enhancement gets quite overused here, and becomes an irritant the further you get into the film. Colors are quite good, exhibiting a nice range and contrast, with blacks doing a fine job. However, shadows do have the tendency to crush, which can be seen in the opening scene of the darkened city street. It lacks that high-def pop that keeps Blu-rays interesting and exciting. Detail, on the other hand, can look exquisitely good and lush, and the very next scene will be soft sans fine detail. The transfer is very inconsistent when it comes to presenting fine detail – facial features, textures, and patters. I'm sure fans of the movie would have liked a better looking transfer or a whole new remaster, but it doesn't look like you get it here. This is simply a moderate upgrade from the DVD. It is an upgrade, for sure, but it isn't something that will make your jaw drop to the floor (like that documentary mentioned above).
Even though Warner didn't see fit to remaster the film for this release, at least they saw to it that it got a substantial audio upgrade. Count me in the surprised group when I looked at the specs and saw that this disc offers a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. This is more than an upgrade from the DVD, it's a complete overhaul. The movie sounds spectacular in high-def, lossless sound.
Dialogue, first and foremost, is presented cleanly and clearly through the center channel. Each word is intelligible, and you'll be able to clearly hear the words that are coming out of Chris Tucker's mouth (see what I did there?). With all his high-pitched rambling, it's amazing that this mix is able to capture each and every syllable and produce them with a crisp ring. Directionality works wonders here as the extra two channels offer a more immersive soundfield that allows voices and action to be placed to the sides rather than just moved to the rear. The shoot out at the end has bullet sounds whizzing by every which way as they ping-pong, back and forth across the room. Explosions are hearty and full of earth-shaking LFE that will make your woofer work and you proud. Even the more nuanced sound effects like glass braking, car metal crunching, punches finding their mark, are all reproduced with perfect clarity making this audio mix a big surprise, especially considering its mediocre catalog status. Fans and audiophiles alike are sure to get their money's worth when they hear this soundtrack booming from the opening to the final credits.
You'll see most of the DVD special features ported over for this release, but the biographies are missing.
- Audio Commentaries – Brett Ratner is the lone voice on the first commentary. He's a rather congenial guy and is easy to listen to. He explains the basics of a filmmaker's commentary – casting, shooting locations, how certain shots were filmed, how certain stunts were performed – you know, the usual. There isn't much in the way of really in-depth information here, but Ratner does take you step by step through the movie explaining nearly everything. So fans will want to visit this commentary at some point.
In an unexpected turn, an isolated score is provided with commentary from Composer Lalo Schifrin as he talks about the movie's music and how it blends with what's happening on screen.
- A Piece of the Action: Behind the Scenes of Rush Hour (SD, 41 min.) – Your typical behind-the-scenes featurette, but with more of a natural feel to it rather than the promo fluff we've seen over and over. That makes this feature a bit more bearable.
- 'Whatever Happened to Mason Reese?' (SD, 13 min.) – A short film of Ratner's has been included.
- Deleted Scenes(SD, 3 min.) – A few scenes that were rightly cut from the movie.
- How Deep Is Your Love? (SD, 4 min.) – A music video for the singer Dru Hill. The music video is directed by Ratner. Yay for music videos, right?
- Nuttin' But the Love (SD, 4 min.) – Another music video directed by Ratner, this time featuring Heavy D & the Boyz.
- Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included, but not in high definition.
There are no Blu-ray extras here.
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'Rush Hour' will never be one of my favorite films, but I suppose it's a good movie to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, Chris Tucker really gets on my nerves, as does Ratner's lackadaisical directing. Chan is always a riot to watch, how that guy makes some of those moves I'll never know. Still, you're getting a case of pretty spotty video, coupled with some really nice 7.1 audio. The special features are all from the DVD, so you know what to expect there. I recommend that fans of the movie pick this up unless they suspect a newly remastered disc will come out for this soon on one of its anniversaries. For everyone else, this release is skip-worthy. I would say rent it, but you've most likely seen it so many times before what would be the point in renting it? In short, worth a look if this is one of your faves.
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