Definitely not as bad as expected, the Rush Hour pilot is entertaining and light-hearted.
Rush Hour (1998) is one of those films you watched when you were younger, thinking it was great, and reminisce about when you are older. An unashamed fan of the Rush Hour franchise would tell you that the cheesy lines and slapstick are hilarious, and they would (theoretically) stand by that opinion to this day. The adaptation of the classic into a TV show would intrigue them, but it would certainly take a lot to impress their superior taste.
After sending younger sister and police officer Kim (Jessika Van) on a security detail that goes awry, Detective Lee (Jon Foo) is sent to the LAPD to work the case. Uncle Sam is not best pleased with having to babysit and so enters James Carter (Justin Hires), the intolerable and loquacious cop who prefers to go it alone. The two are forced together and Carter is given strict instructions to keep Lee out of the way, despite the fact that he may possess information about stolen terracotta statues bound for America, over which the officers stood sentinel. Carter and Lee are soon hot on the trail of the perpetrators who also killed numerous officers, including Lee’s sister. With Carter’s local knowledge and Lee’s smoldering silence, the two soon discover that a much larger game is afoot.
The force behind the film Rush Hour was the unlikely and comedic alliance of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, and by removing the two stars, you remove the concept behind the film and the ensuing TV show. It is their personalities that dictated the story and filled the screen; Tucker’s candor matched Chan’s stunts in kind. Although this is a review of the TV series and not the film franchise, it is the first thing that seems to be missing from the Rush Hour pilot. While the new actors do possess some chemistry, the void to be filled is just too difficult a challenge for the two largely unknown performers. They follow an almost identical plot that is obviously meant to appease the original fans, and simply cash in on the already tried and tested story. Yet they fail to take advantage of the episode to develop their relationship as Carter and Lee v2.0, and inevitably fail to live up to their predecessors. The show irrevocably created its own demise by summoning direct comparisons to the originals, advertising itself by using the superior films.
The characters were likeable and the episode was fairly enjoyable if you’re not looking for anything too serious to watch, especially during the revision period. But if you do watch the pilot and find it in the least bit interesting, the best thing to do is to go back to the original films to watch the masters at work. Then, you will see the TV show as the shadow of its former self.
Rush Hour airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on E4.