RUSH HOUR: A First Take on the Remake

rush hour

What did you think of CBS’s new drama, RUSH HOUR? I had been anticipating it for some months, ever since I heard it was in the making. But I was also dreading it, because I knew it would have a hard time holding up to the original movies (1998, 2001, 2007) on which it was based. Here’s my first take on the remake.

Let me start out by confessing that I am a huge Jackie Chan fan. No one does martial arts stunts like The Chan. No one does campy humor like The Chan. No one has the agility and smarts and the acrobatic wherewithal of The Chan. So keeping up with him on a television remake sets up some pretty high standards.

And then there’s the comedic chops of Chris Tucker. Speaking of agility! His lightning-fast mind and chutzpah can’t be replicated. Once again, keeping up with him on a television remake sets up some very high standards.

So when I watched last night’s premiere episode of RUSH HOUR, I knew I was going to have trouble watching it.

It didn’t help that the first episode paralleled the first movie (1998), with a bleach-blonde baddie from Hong Kong transporting his gangster business to Los Angeles, fueled by a Western-insider gone rogue who turns against main character Lee at the crucial climax in the drama. And it didn’t help that it also brought in many of the elements of co-main character Carter’s local cousins and his gangster homeys. That made contrasting new actors Jon Foo and Justin Hires with originals Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker even harder.

So let’s be clear. In my mind, it didn’t work. Foo is no Chan. He isn’t as agile as Chan, isn’t as creative or skilled as Chan, doesn’t have the acting talents of Chan. And while Hires is a better match with Tucker, he too is no Tucker. He doesn’t have the chutzpah, the timing, the B.S. factor of a Tucker.

Of course, it’s true that RUSH HOUR the show doesn’t have the budget of a movie production. It’s a single-camera action production on a typical series time restraint, and it likely doesn’t have a field of stunt professionals supporting Foo. Jackie Chan meticulously planned, directed, and executed all of his stunts, used multiple cameras, had the luxury of time and a movie budget, and he had years of experience and the early years of less-than-stellar results to build up to the RUSH HOUR movie successes. So maybe we should cut Foo some slack.

That all said, I’m going to give RUSH HOUR a couple of more views before I decide whether it’s a worthy take-off series. Likely Foo won’t improve all that much. But at least from here on the story lines will diverge and the actors will have the opportunity to show their talents and their skills more. And removed from comparisons with the original movies, maybe we can start appreciating Foo as Lee and Hires as Carter unique to their characters instead of as sloppy remakes. I’m willing to give RUSH HOUR another chance if you are.

RUSH HOUR airs on Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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