We admit, we were fairly apprehensive about checking out the new “Rush Hour” adaptation over at CBS. We’re in an era now where remakes are rampant, and few of them are rarely any good. Also, this show is in a different era now than the movie was, and it’s a time when things are a little more politically correct. There are some jokes in those movies that simply wouldn’t fly now, and it was to be seen if this show would provide laughs or cringe-worthy moments.
In the end, we decided to balk at some of the negative reviews from other critics, largely because “Rush Hour” is never going to be the next “Breaking Bad.” It’s a cheesy cop show / fish-out-of-water story about a foul-mouthed L.A. cop and a Hong Kong investigator who end up working together despite their clear cultural differences. It’s meant to be fun popcorn entertainment, and as that, the premiere delivers.
Let’s start with the biggest thing the new series has going for it: The casting. Jon Foo and Justin Hires are inspired choices for Lee and Carter, and seem like they are really enjoying themselves in the pilot rather than worrying about being Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker 2.0. It’s also nice to see Aimee Garcia back on TV after her run on “Dexter” as Angel Batista’s little sister. There’s good chemistry here with all of them, and as the show goes on, this will probably expand.
The words “as the show goes on” are probably key here, since the pilot feels almost like a CBS executive told them they had to pseudo-remake the first “Rush Hour” movie with a few plot differences to get the show made. This, at least to us, probably would’ve worked better either as an extension of “Rush Hour 3,” or even like “Limitless,” a show where the movie characters were a part of the universe. Couldn’t they have gotten Chan or Tucker for a cameo at some point? Having it replicate the movie puts added pressure on Foo and Hires, and it forced the pilot into by-the-numbers territory where you knew certain elements would be rushed to ensure that Lee would remain in Los Angeles after being transferred there.
The action sequences were very fun in the pilot, and there were a few great laugh-out-loud moments. Lee’s deadpan responses are great, and while we’d love a little more screwball humor in the fights, it’s nice that Carter can carry himself a little better than the movie version could.
Insofar as the “out of touch for 2016” humor, we really think some critics made a mountain out of a molehill here. Sure, there were a few cracks about Lee’s grasp of the English language, and these sort of jokes are pretty bottom of the barrel. Yet, we’ve heard far more off-color things on other network shows and it’s all firmly tongue-in-cheek. Moving forward, we think that the best move for the show would be to focus mostly on what makes Lee and Carter different as people as opposed to just their backgrounds, but we feel with the people involved like we’ll get there.
So while not perfect and a little generic by some pilot standards, we do think “Rush Hour” is worth checking out again. It’s fun-to-watch, disposable TV at a time in which everyone thinks that hour-long shows have to be taken seriously. Trust us: They don’t.
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