Rush Hour

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital Canyon
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Brett Ratner (Director)
Running Time 93:53 minutes Other Extras Biographies - Cast and Crew 
Deleted Scenes 
Featurette - A Piece of The Action: Behind The Scenes of Rush Hour (40:51) 
Menu Audio and Animation 
Music Video - Nothin' But Love (Heavy D) (4:35) 
Music Video - How Deep Is Your Love (Dru Hill) (4:28) 
Short Film - Whatever Happened to Mason Reese (13:11)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (65:25)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Brett Ratner
New Line Cinema
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jackie Chan 
Chris Tucker 
Elizabeth Pena 
Tom Wilkinson 
Tzi Ma 
Chris Penn
Case Brackley
RRP $34.95 Music Lalo Schifrin

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s) 
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s) 
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English 
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes, like to guess which airline they must have used?
Action In or After Credits Yes, in credits of course (this is Jackie Chan after all)

Plot Synopsis

    As I am taken back to those wonderful days of living in Hong Kong, when the only entertainment I could really afford was to indulge in the local cinema, I recall those glorious films by the meister of Hong Kong film - Jackie Chan. It did not matter that I spoke little Chinese and understood even less, for there was no real need when watching his films. All were made on a shoestring budget, the scripts were pretty similar (and of uniformly poor standard to be honest) and the onscreen action always left you satisfied. Nowadays, Jackie Chan has moved from being just a Hong Kong film icon to being a worldwide star and the result is quite simply that the budgets have gotten just a little bigger for the films. The one downside is that the films are occasionally too far under the Hollywood spell and lose a lot of the Jackie Chan magic as a result. Whilst in the States last year, I came across this effort being offered at a suitably discounted price in a local Best Buys and the name of Jackie Chan on the cover was all that was necessary to get me to dig out the old credit card and indulge. The other unfortunate downside of the Hollywood connection is that the films also star other people - and this time it is Chris "The Talentless Motormouth" Tucker. Not even Jackie Chan at his very best can counteract the presence of another blighted entry in the roll of dishonour of African-American actors.

    In broad terms, the plot here starts in Hong Kong just prior to the handover to China. Chief of Police Griffin (Tom Wilkinson) is toasting the departure of Consul Han (Tzi Ma) to take up his post of Consul in the United States - when news arrives that Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) has liberated rare artifacts from China's history stolen by mysterious crime lord Juntao. Cue Consul Han in Los Angeles a short time later, where he is staging an exhibition of many of those rare artifacts. Juntao has taken something of a dislike to losing his artifacts so arranges the kidnapping of the Consul's daughter Soo Yung (Julia Hsu), who shall be returned for the princely ransom of $50,000,000. Naturally the FBI is called in, but Consul Han wants someone he can trust to help regain his daughter - so calls in her godfather who just so happens to be Lee. The FBI is not too impressed, so arranges for secondment from the L.A. Police Department of Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) to handle a dipstick assignment to greet and otherwise waste the time of Lee, so that there is no involvement by him in the case. What follows is the usual smorgasbord of improbable situations into which Lee inserts himself and then extricates himself - whilst heading all the time to the rather inevitable conclusion which highlights a rather nice twist - at least to those who are not so familiar with the workings of politics and corruption in that wonderful place known as Hong Kong.

    Like many a Jackie Chan film before and no doubt like many a Jackie Chan film yet to be made, the plot is hardly likely to be confused with something from the pen of say Shakespeare. Even director Brett Ratner freely admits that significant bits of this film are influenced by whole bundles of films along the lines of 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop. Still, after all these years why would we expect to start having to worry about plot in Jackie Chan films is all I have to ask? All we have to worry about is whether the film delivers the action that we do expect from such films. And broadly speaking this does indeed deliver that, but along the way we do have to put up with something quite insufferable - Chris "The Talentless Motormouth" Tucker. Take him out of the equation and this would have been a great, fun film. Jackie Chan, despite being hampered by the safety concerns of Hollywood, still manages to do what he does better than just about anyone - blend full on martial arts action, stunts and comedy. And whilst he will never win too many Academy Awards, his consistency in performing is quite comforting. And the rest of the cast, bar one, is no less distinguished. Tom Wilkinson produces another of his typically accomplished performances as does Tzi Ma and the talented Elizabeth Pena. The presence of Chris "The Talentless Motormouth" Tucker unfortunately undermines a lot of what there is good about this film and reduces its impact somewhat in my opinion. To give him his due however, director Brett Ratner has done a pretty good job of bringing this film together, although he did have a lot of damn good help on board for this effort.

    Whilst there always has to be something of merit in a Jackie Chan film in my view, this has to be admitted to be showing the worst of influences from Hollywood that may not bode too well for the future. Nonetheless, if you can put up with Chris "The Talentless Motormouth" Tucker - which obviously I cannot - then you will probably enjoy this far more than I did. It really is something of a flawed effort in my view that could have been so much more.

Transfer Quality

Technical Note - Identifying The Remastered DVD

    There are two versions of this DVD available. The first pressing exhibited a severe audio sync problem in Chapter 8. This was withdrawn and remastered, however, the remastered version introduced a fault into the Dru Hill Music Video which causes it to lock up.

    The only way to reliably tell which version of this DVD you have is to play the Dru Hill music video. It if plays correctly, you have the original master. If it crashes, you have the remaster. The packaging is identical between releases, and we were unable to make out the disc markings on either of our versions of this DVD.


    In general, Roadshow Home Entertainment have been significantly improving over recent times with their video transfers, and in general this is a damn good one - albeit with some caveats.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is extremely clear and extremely sharp throughout, with barely any evidence of dropping from such lofty standards. Shadow detail is generally very good, although there were a few instances (notably in some of the more confined spaces in the film) where I would have expected it to be just a little better. There is no low level noise apparent at all in the transfer.

    The colours were beautifully vibrant throughout, very nicely saturated without any tendency towards oversaturation. Just check out the scenes showing the outside of the consul's home - I have rarely seen grass lawn so vibrantly green. The colours are remarkably consistent throughout. Overall, this is a gorgeous looking transfer.

    There are no readily apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Regrettably, there are some noticeable film-to-video artefacts present - some quite noticeable aliasing throughout thanks to the usual culprits, which does detract somewhat from the video transfer. As we should expect from such a recent film, there are no significant film artefacts at all in the transfer. About the only flaw that I noticed in the transfer, aside from the aliasing, was a rather noticeable reflection type effect at the top of the picture at 23:19; this is presumably an inherent film problem however, as it is also present in the Region 1 version of the film.

    This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 65:25. Whilst the layer change is quite good and is not that noticeable and not too disruptive to the film, it could have been handled a lot better as there was a scene change about five seconds later that would have hidden the change much better.


    Whilst they have made significant improvements in the video transfers recently, the same is unfortunately not the case with their audio transfers.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded sound. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Audio Commentary soundtracks.

    You have Jackie Chan and Chris "The Talentless Motormouth" Tucker in a movie together and you want clear and easily understood dialogue? Whatever the stimulant you use, can I have some too?

    Okay, I use a Pioneer player which is supposedly more sensitive to audio sync problems than others. The fact that in general I have had little problem at all with audio sync, other than with two notable and well documented Roadshow Home Entertainment efforts, probably does not mean too much to most. Well, it does to me and I have to say that you can add a third notable example to the list of problematic Roadshow Home Entertainment titles - and this is it. I am not especially sensitive to audio sync problems but this soundtrack, and most especially during Chapter 8, is very problematic. Most of the problem during the film could be overlooked - but Chapter 8 is so bad as to be almost laughable. Indeed, Chapter 8 is possibly the worst example of audio sync problems that I have encountered - certainly Rounders is far more consistently out of sync, but at no time was that film as out of sync as Chapter 8 is here, as far as I recall anyway. I find it somewhat alarming and mildly amusing (in a perverse sort of way) that Roadshow Home Entertainment discs seem to be the only discs that exhibit any sort of audio sync problems on my player. It would seem that there must be something that is occurring in the mastering somewhere that is creating this problem, as I have no audio sync problems with the Region 1 version of the film. I wish that Roadshow Home Entertainment and Pioneer could get together to determine what the problem is in mastering so that it can be eliminated.

    However, as a result of the wide spread nature of the audio sync problem noted, which was not confined to just Pioneer players, Roadshow Home Entertainment withdrew the original version of the DVD and undertook a remastering. The remastering has pretty well fixed up all of the audio sync problems noted above. The remastered Chapter 8, the worst affected chapter, is pretty much free of any problems, and I would have to suggest that whilst there are just the merest hints that the sync may be going astray, it would only be the most exceptionally sync sensitive who will have any problem with the remastered DVD.

    The musical score by Lalo Schifrin is very nicely done, with some nice infusion of Chinese sounding music into the overall score. The lack of the the isolated score in the Region 4 version is all the more noticed because of the quality of the score.

    This is a nicely detailed soundtrack, without being an overtly aggressive soundtrack, which makes something of a difference for an action based film. After recently bemoaning the lack of use of the rear channels for ambience in a recent review, this effort makes quite good use of the rear channels in that manner. The overall soundscape is quite natural and quite believable, into which you are nicely inserted. There is some serious workout for the subwoofer in only a couple of sequences, as Brett Ratner does not indulge in Jan De Bont-style over-the-top extremes. Overall, a very nice soundtrack that provides plenty of space to the sound without indulging in artificial theatrics.


    Another area where we are seeing vast improvement from Roadshow Home Entertainment - this almost equals the Region 1 release in both quantity and quality. As usual for a Roadshow Home Entertainment release, we start with the obligatory Dolby Digital trailer - after a few straight releases through my player with the Train trailer, we here return to the aggressive Canyon trailer.


    Loaded with audio and animation enhancements, as well as 16x9 enhancement, this is curiously an underwhelming effort that I find far less satisfying than the Region 1 effort (which was far better themed to the film really). Still, personal taste aside, this is of high quality - except for the slight delay you need to suffer before being able to make a selection in the main menu.

Theatrical Trailer

    Decent enough quality on offer here but it would have been nice to see it 16x9 enhanced, as the quality would be improved markedly I suspect. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - A Piece of The Action: Behind The Scenes of Rush Hour (40:51)

    Maybe I am being a little pedantic, but to me a featurette implies a coherently constructed feature about the subject matter. This is a 40 minute collection of interview snippets and behind the scenes footage that is anything but a coherently constructed feature. Still, it is quite informative, certainly entertaining and is a well worthwhile inclusion in the package. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and has Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Deleted Scenes - (6) (3:03)

    And the reason why they are deleted is quite obvious - they don't add an awful lot to the film at all. Still, it is nice to see their inclusion in the package even though they do not set the world on fire. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, are not 16x9 enhanced and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound that may well be mono only.

Director's Commentary - Brett Ratner (Director)

    This commentary features Brett Ratner speaking over the film's Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. Okay, I am not a fan of these things and this is not the best I have heard anyway, but I really did find this a bit of a chore to listen to. Brett may be a very enthusiastic guy about film, but his delivery is a little too monotone for my liking, although he at least knows when to shut up! When he does speak, he fills out a lot of the background information to the film quite nicely. Overall, well worth a listen but not something that I will return to a second time.

Biographies - Cast and Crew

    These are presented in a slightly different style that I have not seen before, and frankly hope I never see again. Rather than your typical pages of text, these are scrolling animations. Which is wonderful except for a couple of points - one, I found them a little difficult to read and, two, I can read the things a lot quicker than they scroll and use of the forward button is not an aid to speeding up the scroll. A very nice idea in theory, but the execution needs to be improved a little in my view.

Short Film - Whatever Happened to Mason Reese? (13:11)

    Of no connection to the feature at all apart from being a student work by Brett Ratner. Not of the best quality either, but what do we expect from student efforts? Well after El Mariachi, an awful lot I suppose. This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. I did not find this especially interesting the first time around on the Region 1 release and a repeated viewing has not changed my view any. It does include an introduction from Brett Ratner which includes a nice story about how he got money from Steven Spielberg for the film.

Music Video - Nothin' But Love (Heavy D) (4:35)

    A mildly tolerable music video for a mildly tolerable song - in other words I hate the music and I hate the video. Not my cup of tea at all but fans of the genre will no doubt love it. This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Music Video - How Deep Is Your Love (Dru Hill) (4:28)

    Ditto, except this is not quite as bad musically. However, whilst the remastering has improved the audio sync in the feature, it has resulted, for some inexplicable reason, in the creation of another problem. In this instance, the remastered version now displays the rather nasty glitch of not being able to play this music video: the DVD player locks up and refuses to play when this selection is accessed from the menu. Village Roadshow acknowledge the problem but the likelihood of a further remaster is not very high.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:     A direct comparison between the two versions shows that the Region 4 version is slightly sharper, more vibrant and slightly more saturated colour-wise. In other words, just what we would expect from the better resolution of the PAL system. However, given the audio sync problems and the lack of the isolated music score with commentary (I could not give a rodents rear end about DVD-ROM content and wish that it was an abomination not inflicted upon DVD-Video), I reluctantly say that Region 1 is the region of choice after the initial pressing - and that the remastering has not changed this opinion any, since it has data corruption problems.


    An unfortunately flawed effort that really fails to set the world on fire. Not even Jackie Chan can save this effort, despite his best efforts.

    Aside from some minor quibbles, an excellent video transfer.

    If audio sync is not a problem for you, a great audio transfer on the original release, but much improved by the lack of audio sync on the remastered version.

    A very nice collection of extras overall, but the remastered version is marred by the data corruption problem.

Ratings (out of 5)

Audio (original)
Extras (original)

© Ian Morris
14th February 2000
revised 18th April 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL