TV Review - Rush Hour (2016)
The movie of the same name was essentially built around Jackie Chan who was actually born and raised in Hong Kong and who is a highly-skilled, martial artist with great, comedic styling. English is not Chan's first language and that was a source of comedy in the movie because they were playing with that reality. This adaptation wants to copy that comedy, but what writers Bill Lawrence and Blake McCormick don't realize is that some jokes only work coming from certain people, or coming off certain situations. Taking that Jackie Chan joke of a Chinese man who speaks broken English and who is a little behind on American or western culture doesn't work if it's not coming from Chan in the same position.
Jon Foo stars as Detective Jonathan Lee. Foo is the Chan substitute. However, Foo doesn't have the humor or the charm of Chan. Foo's character is essentially a robot who is only there to do hand-to-hand combat. With Asian representation being low and awry, this is really unacceptable. Hawaii Five-0 has better representation of Asian actors because it actually gives them personalities, along with the ability to fight. I would take Daniel Dae Kim over Jon Foo.
In reality, Foo speaks perfect English and knows English very well because he's from the United Kingdom. Yes, he's half-Chinese but he's half-Irish. He doesn't have a Chinese accent in any way, so why give him one? Just as the movie was built around Chan, why not build this series around Foo? Let him speak his proper English in his proper voice! Let him have a personality or a life! Having him be an immigrant in this country was interesting 20 years ago but frustrating today as it perpetuates the idea of Asians as foreigners or outsiders.
Justin Hires co-stars as James Carter. Hires is basically doing a Chris Tucker impression. It's more annoying than anything else. Hires is actually better when he's not trying to be loud and funny. Hires is actually better when he's being dramatic or sincere. In Episode 3, for example, James has a conversation with a boy who is a witness to a crime. The boy is Isaiah, played by Xolo Maridueña, and it's a touching moment, one of two great moments in the first, five episodes.
Like other CBS procedurals, including Limitless and Elementary, this one follows a similar pattern and structure of two detectives investigating and solving crimes. One is reckless and the other is straight-laced. It's probably like Elementary because one of the detectives is Asian. It's like Limitless because one of the detectives is kind of a super hero. Here, that character is both.
Foo's Detective Lee is straight-laced. He's strict about following the rules. He's stoic, stiff and doesn't display a lot of emotions. This could be fine, but often in his fight scenes Detective Lee experiences no fear and even no pain. In one episode, he gets shot and doesn't flinch. This series really goes out of its way to depict Detective Lee as unable to be hurt and having great abilities. The writers reinforce this in Episode 4 when one character calls Detective Lee the "Asian Batman."
Page Kennedy (Blue Mountain State) co-stars as Gerald, a cousin of James Carter who is a criminal but who assists both James Carter and Detective Lee in their cases. The reason the comedy from Hires doesn't work is because Kennedy is such a scene stealer. He's the one who drops the "Asian Batman" line and it works. In fact, Kennedy's chemistry with Foo is a thousand times better than Foo and Hires' chemistry. I'd almost rather Hires be dropped and the show revolving around Detective Lee and Gerald.
There's an interesting fight scene involving Detective Lee being handcuffed to Gerald in Episode 2. All other fight scenes or chase scenes are pretty lame. The problem is that Foo is so good that the writing doesn't provide him or his character a fair or compelling challenge. His adversaries are too easy for him to take down or rather flick away like insects. This could be enough for those who just want mindless action. The choreography of men fighting half-naked in a sauna in Episode 5 for example was luridly fun, but empty dramatically in the long run.
Two Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursdays at 10PM on CBS.