TV Review: ‘Rush Hour’

'Rush Hour' Brings Popular Movies to
Courtesy of CBS

CBS has exhausted so many permutations of the buddy-cop format that the network has inevitably resorted to adapting and recycling. It does a bit of both with “Rush Hour,” a light-hearted series version of the Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan movie trilogy, pairing Justin Hires and Jon Foo as the wisecracking L.A. detective and taciturn Hong Kong cop, thrown together here on an open-ended basis.

Establishing the template naturally requires a bit of fancy footwork, and as an indication of the tone the network is seeking, the task has been entrusted to producers Bill Lawrence — usually associated with sitcoms, like “Scrubs” and “Cougar Town” — and Blake McCormick. In rapid-fire fashion, the pilot, directed by Jon Turteltaub, briskly sets up Hires’ Det. Carter as a cop who breaks rules — to the point of irritating his captain (a slumming Wendie Malick) — and Foo, who started out as a stuntman, as Det. Lee, a near-automaton with mad martial arts skills, who comes to L.A. after a heist/massacre that involved a newbie cop who happens to be his sister.

The “fish out of water” might be TV’s oldest premise, and “Rush Hour” lands in a rather long tradition of movies (a la the Charles Bronson-Toshiro Mifune Western “Red Sun”) and TV (including CBS’ 1998 series “Martial Law”) that involve dropping Asian heroes into Western settings. The formula, however, also perhaps unavoidably traffics in hoary stereotypes, even if Hires, a stand-up comic, dials down the clowning from Tucker’s much-lampooned performance.

As a result, “Rush Hour” is one of those series that might outwardly appear to advance the cause of casting diversity — including Aimee Garcia as Carter’s former partner — yet still seems to have been plucked from TV’s black-and-white era. Sure, the good guys are people of color, but so are the African-American thugs that Lee tosses around a bar and, eventually, a whole warehouse full of Chinese flunkies, to be knocked over like arcade ducks.

Nor is there anything particularly novel about CBS’ approach to launching the show, introducing it during the thick of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, hoping the promos will help attract the men tuning in, who presumably like seeing people get kicked in the face.

The benefit of this strategy is that negative reviews won’t likely represent much of a setback; rather, “Rush Hour” will get by, or not, on the equity built up in the name, its mix of action and comedy, and the chemistry (hardly combustible at first) of its stars. Until then, a show intended to get its kicks will collect its share of lumps.

TV Review: 'Rush Hour'

(Series; CBS, Thurs. March 31, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Doozer in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Bill Lawrence, Blake McCormick, Jeff Ingold, Jon Turteltaub, Arthur Sarkissian, Toby Emmerich, Steve Franks, Brett Ratner; director, Turteltaub; writers, Lawrence, McCormick; camera, David Connell; production designer, Stephen Storer; editor, Roger Bondelli; casting, Jennifer Cooper. 60 MIN.

Cast

Justin Hires, Jon Foo, Wendie Malick, Aimee Garcia, Page KennedyB

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  1. Tony says:

    This is a rather poor review which says nothing about the quality of the actors’ performances, the photography, or the martial arts choreography which has done well in keeping with Jackie Chan’s comedic and acrobatic style. Instead, the review focuses on a trope and the decision to premiere the series at a time when tv viewership in the show’s principal demographic is expectantly high. Rush Hour is a small screen adaptation of a big budget action cop buddy movie with light comedic overtones. The series is thus both a victim and a benefactor of the original film’s success and genre from which it is a product.

    That there is an outward appearance of advancing casting diversity is idiotic. The cast is either diverse or it is not. In “Rush Hour”, the cast is indeed diverse. The first episode does feature a group of African American thugs and Chinese flunkies. The former are typical thugs with whom a major supporting character in the series associates. Casting diversity does not mean that depictions of African American characters as antagonists are forbidden. The latter are an members of the Chinese Triad underworld which have come to LA. They are the principal reason the series’ protagonist comes to LA. Both depictions make sense and are in context with the story and the setting. In the two episodes that have aired since, antagonists have been Caucasian as well.

    Rush Hour is a good, entertaining series which blends modern criminal violent themes with light comedy and martial arts. It is a worthwhile break from the exhausted trend of high-tech forensic crime dramas. There are no cops shining flashlights in hotel rooms during the day here.

  2. JD says:

    The actor in the Jackie Chan role doesn’t even look Asian. Whats up with that?

    • Rho says:

      Lol I was thinking the same thing. I looked him up in IMDB and he’s from England, his accent even sounds off. And the actor who plays Carter is trying way too hard to sounds and act like Chris Tucker’s version. He needs to tone it down.

    • pwizo says:

      His dad is chinese and his mom is irish.

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