Collision Course

tn_collisioncourseAs a Chris Tucker fan in a white-people-heavy part of the country I too often find myself defending the kind-of-funniness of RUSH HOUR. I don’t love the movie or anything (MONEY TALKS is the real classic) but I have to admit that every time I come across it on TV I find myself laughing at the shit Chris Tucker says and saying, “I forgot how funny this was.”

I realize that you all think I’m crazy for that, so I got a new argument in defense of RUSH HOUR, and it’s called COLLISION COURSE (1989). You think RUSH HOUR is such a terrible movie – well, what about the version where instead of Jackie Chan it’s Pat Morita, and instead of Chris Tucker it’s god damn Jay Leno? This is a generic mismatched buddy-cop picture only made novel by the rare hero role for the famous Tonight Show host/usurper. It’s funny – not in the sense that the jokes are funny, but in the sense that it’s sometimes interesting to look back at older movies and remember what was considered cool or funny at that time.

mp_collisioncourseLeno’s character fits his modern persona – working class joe from Detroit, drives vintage Corvette convertible. As a Guy’s Guy of the ’80s he’s single and lives in a smelly apartment littered with fast food garbage (see also Jim Belushi, THE PRINCIPAL). One of his primary traits is that he repeatedly tries to abuse his authority to get women’s phone numbers. I can’t remember why that was cool back then. What’s he gonna do, call and hang up? Or say, “Hi, I’m that police officer who pretended it made sense to take down your phone number – wanna come over?” Actually it does become useful when he hits on a girl at a photo developing kiosk. It doesn’t show him calling her, but she develops photos for them later and lets them go into the back with her, which implies something more than the usual photo developer/client relationship. Also she gives them info about gang territory (she knows because she’s black, is the implication).

Morita is a fuckup sent from Japan to track down a super-engine prototype stolen and headed for GM or somewhere. Chris Sarandon, Tom Noonan and Randall “Tex” Cobb are all involved, and the Japanese thief is murdered along with a friend of Leno’s. He’s in robbery, of course, not homicide, because there’s a strict screenwriting rule that movie cops can only investigate cases against their bosses direct orders. His boss (Ernie Hudson) gives him a good dressing-down over this, but he ignores it. I wonder what kind of robbery caseload backlog he has by the end of this thing?

It’s weird to watch Leno in the serious parts, like talking about his dead partner. Made me wonder if Daniel Roebuck studied this movie for his role as Leno in THE LATE SHIFT. He got it just right – that is what that voice sounds like when it gets sad or pissed. It’s also weird to see him in fight scenes, but it’s not the real shit, it’s the awkward kind where the hero mugs and runs around and gets lucky ducking punches. There’s a bowling alley brawl involving angry autoworkers (one of them is Mike Starr several years before his bar brawl involving racist oil workers in ON DEADLY GROUND).

The goofiest piece of nonsense is when he blows up Tom Noonan in a trainyard (SPOILER) and for some reason there’s a pyramid of watermelons stacked up on the ground. You don’t see that everyday. Later it’s got the old car-chase trick where they go through the alley behind the Empty Box Factory – you know, they knock down a mountain of empty wooden crates, then a forklift drives in carrying a giant stack of empty cardboard boxes.

It’s all what you’d expect, the two having cultural misunderstandings and insensitivity (Leno calls him “Tojo,” expects him to know karate), but then learning to respect each other and imitate each other, repeat each other’s dialogue from earlier scenes. What’s unexpected is that they completely blow the setup for a spectacular climactic car chase. This whole movie they’re talking about “the prototype,” this incredible new engine. And then they find out it’s hidden in an ordinary Toyota that’s ended up at a rental car place. An old lady drives it and almost crashes it because it’s too fast. Then our boys take the wheel… and have a brief, TV style car chase (the one with the empty boxes). I bet the screenwriter had something bigger in mind but they didn’t have the money or the time or something. But that’s a major ball dropped.

In one scene Leno steals a motorcycle – and a helmet too. Morita rides on the back, no helmet. What does this say? Why is Leno’s skull more precious than Morita’s? He’s driving, he ought to offer the helmet to the passenger, since both lives are in his hands. That would be more polite.

One saving grace: there’s a part where Morita runs at a fast-moving car and does a (blue-screened) flying kick through the windshield.

Leno is pretty good, he really stretches pretty far in his performance. For example in the movie he’s a cop, in reality he is not a cop, at least not full time (I don’t know of him doing a STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMAN type deal on the side but I guess I can’t rule it out). In the movie I think he just has one car, in reality he has more than 50. And at the end of the movie, when he’s solved the case that he wasn’t supposed to be on and Morita must go home having failed his mission, Leno’s character sacrifices himself by stealing the prototype from evidence and giving it to Morita to bring home. Obviously the real Leno would be happy with his case being solved and not worry about the other guy’s problem since he didn’t directly cause it and is not technically required to intervene. So it’s an impressive transformation by Leno the actor to put himself into that kind of honorable mindset that is as completely alien to him.

The director is Lewis Teague, same guy that did ALLIGATOR, CUJO and NAVY SEALS. Weirdly it was almost directed by Bob Clark. In an interview with the Onion AV Club Tom Noonan tells the story of how Bob Clark wanted to work with him, said they had this script that was terrible but could be rewritten. Noonan claims he rewrote the script and took the job just to work with Clark, but when he was on set found out Clark had been fired and they’d gone back to the original script. He only stayed on out of a sense of professionalism, but apparently most of his scenes are from his rewrite. So if you ever talk to him ask him about the watermelon pyramid.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 11:01 pm and is filed under Action, Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

42 Responses to “Collision Course”

  1. The only thing I remember about this movie is Pat Morita’s flying kick through the windscreen – which was actually pretty cool.

    I know you get a lot of review requests Vern but I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Hidden, which is one of the best “mismatched cops” movies.

  2. Vern must review A Prophet, its terrific.

  3. hey, i love RUSH HOUR, too. just the first one though. in the first one the chemistry between chan and tucker is perfect. the comedy is funny but the friendship that develops between the two seems genuine. and there are some good funny/sweet low-key character moments (like the scene where they sing “war”). and for me there is enough of the jackie chan action, which i know may be a sacrilegious thing to say for some. but to be completely honest, i’m not a big fan of the typical hong kong style action movies, where it’s just non-stop action, fights, and stunts, barely held together by a super-thin plot and broadly-stroked characters. i can watch movies like DRUNKEN MASTER 2, SUPERCOP, or ONG BAK and sort of detachedly marvel at the action, but without an involving story or characters, they will never be favorite movies of mine. RUSH HOUR for me has the exact right balance of action, humor, story, and character. it’s one of the best examples of the mismatched buddy flick (i also like SHANGHAI NOON but not the sequel). plus… lalo schifrin score! i still remember the main theme.

    the second one was a disappointment. everything felt kind of off. while it did have some good moments (don cheadle speaking chinese!), things just got a little too broad and slapsticky for my tastes (if that’s not a silly thing to complain about in a jackie chan comedy) and the humor started to cross-over to the mean-spirited side that the first one stayed just THIS side of.

    i avoided the third one totally because of the disappointment of the second and the dismal, universal response to it.

    never seen MONEY TALKS but have long been meaning to (partly because of vern’s constant pimping of it). i keep looking for it at my local 50 cent used video store but can only find the dubbed japanese version (all foreign movies are available either dubbed or subtitled on VHS over here). though it would be kind of amusing to see how they dub chris tucker.

    but, man, what happened to tucker? he was so great in FRIDAY, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, RUSH HOUR, and JACKIE BROWN (and presumably MONEY TALKS) but he pretty much never works anymore. since the first RUSH HOUR he’s only made the disappointing or apparently abysmal sequels. i remember reading somewhere that sometime after the first RH, he became uber-christian, like a born-again or something. maybe he smoked too much pot and fried his brain. oh well, he was funny as shit.

  4. The Lalo Schiffrin score is the best thing about Rush Hour. I much prefered the chemistry between Jackie and Owen Wilson
    in Shanghai Noon.

  5. I watched the trailer for collision course a hundred times and the centrepiece was always that flying kick (set to the running backdrop of one-trick gag that pat morita doesn’t know karate in this film which of course is the height of comedy since we know he does having seen karate kid). However, it’s one of few such movies i have not seen, and not seen because it seemed clear they showed all they had on offer already. So ta for the vindication. I estimate once per 5 years I was reminded of collision course and spent 10-15 seconds debating whether I should still see it. This review has saved minutes of internal debate from my life that could be better spent writing a comment for this review…. Arg, will have to live 30 years to break even though.

  6. Yeah, it’s not exactly RED HEAT….

    Seriously, though, I have been obsessed with this period of film history lately–about 1987 to 1992. Goodfellas, The Silence Of The Lambs, Tin Men, Monster Squad, The Abyss, The Last Emperor, City Slickers, Born On The Fourth Of July, JFK, Terminator 2, Reservoir Dogs, The Five Heartbeats, Great Balls Of Fire, Graffitti Bridge, Tucker: A Man and His Dream, Die Hard–good or bad (and beleive me, Graffitti Bridge sucks)it’s fascinating to look at this last moment before computers and digital equipment transformed the way movies look and the way they’re made. You get the feeling that traditional filmmaking techniques which went back pretty much to at least the 50s, and probably the 20s in some cases, had been almost perfected by people who’d been working with them their entire careers. (Cutting on film, photochemical color timing, optical effects, physical makeup, stunts, ect.)

    And it’s startling to realize how much of modern cinema began around this time. I think you can safely say, for instance, that there’s pacing and editing before Goodfellas and pacing and editing after Goodfellas. It’s when Tarantino arrived on the scene. I suspect the entire modern shakycam / frantic editing style of so many genre films is largely imitative of JFK and Born On The Fourth Of July. At the very least, much of The Hurt Locker looks like it couldn’t exist without Robert Richardson’s work on the Vietnam scenes in Born….

  7. Talking about 80’s cop comedies and car chases, you should try to track down SHORT TIME, with Dabney Coleman. Apart from being a nice, sympathetic movie, that doesn’t re-invent anything but is entertaining to watch, it also features a brillant, over 6 minutes long car chase!

  8. I have a soft spot for LOOSE CANNONS, directed by Bob Clark and starring Gene Hackman and Dan Aykroyd. Imagine a movie where the big tough guy one-liner is “Humpty Dumpty is back on the wall.” And then Dan Aykroyd shoots a guy.

  9. I have to recuse myself from judgment here; I would just lash out at those who disagree with me, as I maintain that Jackie Chan is the greatest entertainer alive & that Shanghai Knights (Yes, the sequel) is among the top 10 films of the 21st century thus far. Literally every word Owen Wilson says in both Shanghai Noon & Knights is funny.

    Also, I’m not hobbled with the Virginity of Gary, so I don’t need a coherent story and could watch Ong Bak on infinite repeat forever.

    No way Leno is ever as funny as Chris Tucker. [brief violence]. . .”Okay, which one of y’all kicked me?”

  10. Virgin Gary – I gotta agree with the consensus on Rush Hour III. It’s terrible. Sad to see Chris Tucker in a movie where even I don’t think he’s funny most of the time. I do admire though that he hasn’t made 25 crappy movies since Rush Hour like any other actor would’ve done. Instead he’s just enjoyed the money, did charity work, went to Africa with Bono to learn about AIDS, hung out with Michael Jackson. I honestly think part of it is quality control, because he backed out of doing Black Knight and probly other things that went on to become Martin Lawrence movies. He also spent a couple years hanging out with Bill Clinton and developing a dramedy about becoming the first black president. Not only did Obama steal his thunder, but Chris Rock did when he made Head of State.

    I don’t think he’s even done any standup though, has he? Too bad.

  11. I think it’s because his homeboys are still making fun of him for THE FIFTH ELEMENT.

  12. For me Rush Hour is a failure that only gets better as time goes on because each of it’s sequels was about a 100 times worse than the one before it and also Chan’s subsequent films (both English and Chinese) have managed to get roughly a thousand times worse than the one before it.

    I feel it pretty much fails to capture Chan’s screen charisma and comedy talents and greatly under utilizes his action talents.

    Lalo Schifrin was pretty just asked to regurgitate his Enter The Dragon score, so even that’s unimpressive. For a far better Schifrin Jackie Chan score check out (read: suffer through) Battle Creek Brawl. A terrific score for an awful film.

    It is far more successful as a “wacky” Chris Tucker film though. Unlike Chan, Tucker is used to his fullest. Too bad he spent his screen time making derogatory Asian jokes (to be somewhat fair it wasn’t nearly as bad as all the “chink” jokes in part 2).

    As for their chemistry, I’m one of those assholes who always felt they were acting in two different movies. Chan is in a crappy Police Story Goes To America film and Tucker is in Money Talks: Port of Call L.A. But I will concede I can definitely see how most folk enjoyed their ‘chemistry’. It’s just compared to Chan’s chemistry with his Chinese co-stars, I was pretty unimpressed after everyone was raving about the Chan/Tucker chemistry.

    Don’t get me started on the sequels.

    I felt Shanghai Noon was a superior English-language Chan effort. Then again Chan had far more control over that one (even came up with the idea). Not that I want to hype up Noon as a great Chan film, as it’s not (he reuses old “gags” (especially from the Project A series), all said and done it’s mostly just Rush Hour in the old west and less “chink” jokes thus making me a hypocrite).

    Unfortunatly Shanghai Knights sucked hard and the closest we got to a third Shanghai film was Around the World in 80 Days which was one of the most painful theater-going experiences of my life. I know that one has a good bit of fans with my fellow Hong Kong action film movie lovers, but I haven’t a damn clue where the love for that one comes from.

    Virgin Gary
    I recommend you check out Project A and Project A 2 (the original Hong Kong versions). The first one especially as it’s my favorite Jackie Chan movie and both films actually has a defined plot and consistent characters. So maybe that will be up your alley.
    -Truthfully I just can’t accept a world where anyone would accept Rush Hour as the ultimate Jackie Chan film…
    But yeah check them out if you ever feel like it.

    As for Collision Course… I never heard of it so can’t comment on it.

  13. I have to second that, The Hidden was a great ‘hidden’ (sorry) movie that i only recently watched for the time in years.

    Would be interested in Vern’s opinion of it, how it aged and how (in some small way) has influenced more modern non-shaky cam action films.

  14. I’m sure I mentioned it already on whatever board that was where Joseph Khan (director of Torque) came on and let loose his thoughts on Ratner – but yeah, I totally felt Rush Hour 1 was the more mean-spirited of the two, and RH2 had slightly better action sequences and a better plot. RH3 is absolutely one of the laziest movies I’ve ever seen. You can tell that absolutely nobody involved gives half a shit.

    I loved Shanghai Noon, mainly b/c the Wilson/Chan chemistry is so much better – the part where Wilson dismisses Chan as a “Chinaman” to the hooker is actually a somewhat serious moment and a plot point, whereas in RH1 it would simply be a Tucker punchline. Hated Shanghai Knights in the theatre but eventually grew to like it on DVD. (The DVD btw, comes with “extended” versions of the fights – which run WAY longer and actually come close to Chan’s Hong Kong output, believe it or not).

    In terms of early 90s cop movies – anyone here remember “Downtown” with Anthony Edwards and Forest Whitaker? I think it went straight to dvd but was produced by Gale Ann Hurd and had an Alan Silvestri score and everything! It’s a really minor film but i liked it as a kid, and SPOILER was the first time I’d seen a bad guy thrown into a wood chipper.

  15. Vern,

    Chris Tucker did get his start in stand up and had a couple appearances on Def Comedy Jam. I found one of them on Youtube.


    I imagine with some more digging around you could find more of them.

    Little known Chris Tucker fact he is largely responsible for the success of Bret Ratner. Ratner got his start directing Hip-Hop videos and met Chris Tucker while shooting a Heavy D video (I think it was for that I got nothing but love 4 U song). Chris talked to Ratner about directing a film for him at some point which ended up being Money Talks. Of course they went on to do all the Rush Hour films together as well. Chris Tucker is to Bret Ratner as De Niro is Scorsese.

  16. I actually enjoy both Rush Hours and both Shanghai’s. They’re plastic Hollywood pap, but they’re well made, fun, easy to watch plastic Hollywood pap. Good fights, good jokes, solid chemistry between Chan and his co-stars and Knights has the Mayor from The Wire before he got pissy with John Cena and acted like a dick.

    Mean-spirited? I don’t know about that. Rush Hour is more clueless then stupid, like it doesn’t realize that there is in fact a real world with real people who are going to watch it and have a reaction.

  17. Charles

    Many hate Chris Tucker for silly reasons (not here on vern’s site but elsewhere).

    But please don’t give them (and us) a new reason to hate him by informing us that he is the reason Brett Ratner has a career.

  18. Brendan

    I’d say any film that uses racist stereotypes and racial slurs for comic relief would constitute as “mean spirited”

  19. I’m with Coco. Why doesn’t he have a mismatched cop buddy action movie?

  20. Jareth Cutestory

    March 19th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    geoffreyjar: Did you ever see that Jackie Chan movie where he was partnered with Danny Aiello? I forget the name; it was a good ten years before RUMBLE IN THE BRONX. I saw it recently and was just stupified by how every single cop buddy cliche is trotted out; there isn’t a single moment in the film where you’re not aware of how hackneyed the whole thing is. You’d just have to tweak the direction slightly for it to be an outright parody. This one gets a special place in the long list of Jackie Chan movies that completely fail to grasp what makes him unique.

    I can understand a film being made to capitalize on the 48 HOURS template in the 1980s, like the film mentioned above, but I find it difficult to justify that sort of behaviour in the 1990s and after, like the RUSH HOUR films. They really should know better.

  21. Jareth

    The movie is called The Protector

    I was going to mention it above but chose Battle Creek Brawl instead for it’s awesome score.

    Yes compared to Protector, Rush Hour is a wonderful buddy cop and is very sensitive to Asians and treats them and their culture with the utmost respect.

    The reason it didn’t capitilize on Jackie is because:
    -Battle Creek Brawl was made a ‘Jackie film’ ‘Merican-style and bombed hard so it was decided to go a ‘new direction’ with him
    -The director was one of those classic self-important directors that told Jackie straight up that he had no interest in making a ‘Jackie Chan film’ and didn’t much care for Hong Kong cinema in general
    -Jackie’s US manager told him he was going to make him the next Clint Eastwood

    The Asian version of the movie is slightly different because Chan re-edited it and shot some new footage (such as action scenes). It’s better but as they say: “You can’t polish a turd”

  22. Here is the Heavy D video I mentioned in my earlier post. It is for Nuttin’ But Love and prominently features Chris Tucker in it and is directed by Ratner.


    geoffreyjar, Ratner is not a very popular film director but I believe he did make a number of classic Hip-Hop videos. I will have to look up exatly which ones he did but I know he did at least one Red & Meth video.

  23. The man who is actually to blame for Ratner’s career is Russell Simmons. Without him giving a cocky kid named Brett an internship, he never would have been on the set of that heavy D video in the first place.

    Actually, fuck it, I’m not jumping on this pigpile. I got nothing against Ratner. I’ve seen three of his movies, and they were okay. Maybe I just haven’t seen the really terrible ones.

  24. I am having trouble finding a list of all the videos Ranter directed, but I did remember a truly great one he did. He directed Triumph by the Wu-Tang Clan which is not only an awesome video but it helped to give the Wu mainstream exposure. Ranter may not be a popular (or for that matter particularly talented) director but they guy helped both the careers of Chris Tucker and The Wu so he is OK in my book. Maybe he should just return to making videos and leave the movies alone.

  25. Charlie – oh yeah, I know his standup. What I meant was I don’t think he’s been doing standup in place of all the movies he has not done after Rush Hour. Maybe he did at some point, because I remember he was planning a concert movie type deal.

    Believe it or not there’s a Brett Ratner collection on DVD. The only video I remember by him besides “Triumph” was the Mariah Carey video where she’s in a movie theater and a doppelganger of herself keeps throwing popcorn at her and they get in a fight. But I heard the DVD has a pretty good short documentary about Mickey Rourke.

  26. Mr. Majestyk, I am with you. I don’t think that Ratner is that talented as a director, but I can’t understand people’s outright hatred toward him. I think the worst movie of his I have seen is Rush Hour 3, but I enjoyed the first 2 Rush Hour films & Money Talks. I don’t think X-3 is as bad as people make it out to be, and Red Dragon was forgettable but far from terrible.

  27. Because I’m a tool and because I wanted to be “funny” and throw in the anti-Ratner comment. But as I stated in some other talkback here (god knows which one) I feel there are far worse directors out there. Ratner is just an old school jober director who you call to get the movie done.

    For the hell of it and even though no one cares, here’s my thoughts on his films:

    Money Talks – did rewatch it not to long ago on vern’s recommendation and yes it was funny and got the job done for what it set out to do

    Rush Hour 1 – pretty much already stated earlier on this talkback

    Family Man – typical ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’-ish tearjerker. I’m a sucker for Frank Capra-lite/imitation films. Not the best of that particular sub-genre but yet again gets it’s job done.

    Rush Hour 2 – see RH1

    Red Dragon – This is always a tricky one because it seems to almost always go into a Manhunter vs Red Dragon debate. For the record I enjoy Manhunter more but I do not think Dragon is a waste and ‘useless’. There are some additional scenes in this one that I think are greatly beneficial and other additions that I think hurt it. I’d probably have a higher opinion of this one if it didn’t have the overblown climax at Norton’s beach house.

    After The Sunset – generic heist movie

    X-Men’s Last Stand – Another one that degenerates into a debate and crying about the movie we didn’t get. I don’t think it’s the disaster nerds make it out to be but I also do not think it’s too good either. It has some really good ideas and scenes but I do not think it comes together as a whole.

    Rush Hour 3 – only film of his I think is ‘terrible’

    Have not seen any of his TV work. So yeah most of his movies for me just fall on the mediocre side of things.

  28. I know I already posted this in the Armored talk back and it is much more relevant there, but has any one checked out this trailer for Predators.


    It looks pretty good, and seems to be in the tone of the first film which makes me optimistic that it could be a fun movie. I am interested to hear you guys thoughts.

  29. I’ll admit, I had some real animosity toward Ratner when X-Men 3 came out, but like many others I have reassessed the film and decided that while it’s easily the worst of the series, it’s got a lot going for it, and its problems (except maybe for the clumsily staged wirework) aren’t really his fault. It’s kind of an Alien 3 thing, where if you can forgive how shoddily it treats the characters from earlier films you’ll have a better chance of liking it on its own terms.

  30. Mouth – while i take exception with much of what you say, i do love that “okay, which one of y’all kicked me?” gag in RH. and i remember that when the movie was out, there was a commercial for the soundtrack that ran on TV that just showed that kick to the face on a repeated loop like ten times or more. i dunno why but it really made me laugh, i got such a big “kick” out of it (groan, sorry).

    geoffreyjar – i wouldn’t say that RUSH HOUR was the greatest jackie chan movie. i can recognize how he was much more fully utilized in his earlier hong kong pictures. i have seen and enjoyed many of them, but on a lesser level than movies where i am sucked into the story. i really liked DRUNKEN MASTER 2 and SUPERCOP/POLICE STORY 3 (or whatever, the one where michelle yeoh jumps a motorcycle onto a moving train/truck???) but with both movies (and many others of the genre) i find myself getting exhausted about three quarters of the way through with all the relentless and often mindless action, and when movies like that do focus on story in some scenes it is often of the cheesy melodramatic type which does little for me. but there are proper hong kong action movies that i feel ride the balance well, for example just off the top of my head GREEN SNAKE by tsui hark (a really cool movie if you haven’t seen it) and HEROIC TRIO. huh, weird how both movies i just randomly plucked out of my head are characterized by a focus on female characters… dunno if that means anything. but anyway, i haven’t seen the project a movies so i will try to check em out.

    charles – i think vern meant chris tucker hasn’t done any stand-up LATELY, since he’s become a huge movie star and subsequently more or less retired and has a lot of time on his hands. i’m sure vern knows he got his start in stand-up.

    yes, owen wilson is a big part of the success of SHANGHAI NOON. it seems like he wrote/improvised all of his dialogue (though it often seems like that with him in all his movies – but i am sure it is true with this movie, for example the line where he is trying to cockblock jackie and he says something like “you have to understand, john wayne over here comes from a very male-dominated society…” or something). few scenes can put a smile on my face as much as the one where the two of them play the chinese drinking game in the bath.

    fuck, it is starting to get light out, i’m off to bed!

  31. Even though you can usually count on me to jump in and attack X3, I don’t actually have any animosity towards Ratner. He’s a gun-for-hire and his films are always at least technically well-done and worth a watch (except RH3, which is just fucking inexcusable). I don’t hate Ratner, I just think if he were to apply some of that skill to a story that had weight and soul, he could be making great films, instead of mild diversions.

  32. Red Dragon is a truly fascinating example of how two directors, given the same basic story, some almost identical scenes, and even the same cinematographer (!!!) can still do things TOTALLY differantly. My favorite example: Dolarhyde (Tom Noonan, Ralph Fiennes) seeing the guy (Frank Whaley in Red Dragon, some forgotten bit player in Manhunter) walking Reba (Joan Allen, girl from Chasing The Waves) home, hallucinating that they’re lovers, and killing Whaley / actor x outside Reba’s house.

    The way Mann does it, it’s one of the great scenes of 80s cinema. Ratner’s version is just, crude and obvious and graceless. They’re both competent directors who can get across what’s going on in a scene and communicate it’s various levels of meaning (which is not a given–I’d argue that it’s something Micheal Bay often cannot accomplish, visually or narratively) but Mann’s version has STYLE! Mann’s is the work of an artist, whereas Ratner’s is that of a tradesman, at best. I can just imagine the DP setting up Ratner’s version and rolling his eyes going, “I-a remember how Micheal a-do thissa, eet wassa bella, but this ees fungol…”

    Oh, and Mann’s film was originally going to be called Red Dragon, but they changed it because they were scared people would think it was a kung-fu movie.

  33. Quick shot: the overblown climax of RED DRAGON is a faithful adapt of the book’s climax.

    Which means that I’m in the uncomfortable position of congratulating Hollywood for *toning down* a piece of literature and making a better story out of it. By the intervention of Michael MIAMI VICE Mann no less!

    Maybe he had some THIEF sensibilities left in him, who knows.

  34. Geoffreyjar – I pretty much agree with your assesment on Ratner’s films, except I might be the only one on the planet who REALLY likes After the Sunset. It’s Ratner’s “Jackie Brown” if you will – content to be a minor character piece full of quiet moments with more mature characters that the simple “heist” film I was expecting. I think in promo pieces I heard Ratner describe it as a “love story” between Woody Harrelson and Pierce Brosnan, and I think going into it knowing that really put me in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. (Even though it’s probably like saying there’s love between Wile E. Coyote and The Roadrunner. Or Principal Rooney and Ferris Bueller)

    Anyways, personally my dislike of Ratner didn’t come from his (pretty decent) movies, but from various stories about him being a douche written everywhere. I think there was an article in Premiere magazine (if you remember that) that painted him as a completely deluded, arrogant ass. Did you ever see the Special Features on The Flight of the Phoenix DVD, where John Moore is running around kicking trashcans or some shit and yelling at people and basically acting like he’s making Schindler’s List? It’s the same thing. Oh, and I think he was quoted as saying about The Family Man “I want this movie to show everyone that even if you’re ONLY making $50,000 a year, then that’s OK”, not thinking the average salary in America was like $22K at the time (probably still is).

    Oh, plus I think it’s weird that his name is above the credits in huge font all the time like he’s an actual box office draw, and that he had all these student films and special features about him on the Rush Hour 2 DVD. Seriously, who gives a rat’s ass? I’m not dying to see student films or director profiles from the guy who made All About the Benjamins or Next Day Air or whatever.

  35. C’mon guys – Red Dragon’s climax was “overblown” and Manhunter’s wasn’t? I just trashed Ratner like 2 min. ago, but I have to give credit where it’s due – The “In a Gadda da Vida” sequence, while “cool” is the very definition of overblown.

  36. Chris Tucker has done stand up in the last few years, I’m not exactly sure when. Jamie Foxx was talking about it on his Foxxhole radio show. I wish I had it recorded because what he said was pretty funny and realistic. To make a long story short, he basically said that he was at this club when Chris was trying to get back into stand-up. He was telling jokes that only rich people could relate to. Jamie said he went through the same thing and he basically took Chris to the side after the show and explained that what he was doing wasn’t going to work. Getting off topic a little, but Jamie Foxx true calling is radio. His riffs on the Foxxhole are better then his actual stand up and any comedy I’ve ever seen him in. They are actually Dave Chappelle level good.

  37. Anyone else remember the Jimmy Fallon bit where he super-imposed Conan’s head onto Noonan’s during the final car chase, so Morita is super fly-kicking Conan’s ass, instead of the Tooth Fairy’s.

  38. I agree that the “Rush Hour” sequels are terrible, and at the risk of annoying people I have to say Tucker is a big part of that. For “Rush Hour 3” Tucker was given a large fortune and was appearing on screen for the first time in over half a decade; he obviously decided to make up for lost time and the extortionate fee with volume, in all senses of the word. He’s so overbearing in that film; loud, obnoxious and he doesn’t stop for five seconds and when you think he’s finally stopped he breaks into a rendition of fucking “Kung-Fu Fighting”. And it’s not so much that his humour is xenophobic or racist or whatever, so much as it is mean spirited and at the expense of everyone on the planet who isn’t Tucker/Carter. Granted, this could have all been down to the script and the direction, but for the most part it feels like they just said to Tucker “do whatever the hell you want” and he did. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “Tucker hater” or whatever you kids call it these days; I agree “Money Talks” is actually pretty cool and I even liked the clip of his early stand up I saw and I’m not a stand up guy, and yeah it’s good that he didn’t cash in on his fame by making _loads_ of crap but I do honestly think a lot of the blame for the lousiness of the “Rush” sequels can be laid at his feet.

    Also the “Rush Hour” films get increasingly leary in an adolescent manor, which is kind of creepy

  39. RUSH HOUR 3, nobody involved really honestly wanted or was inspired to be there except for the ridiculous paychecks they were given.

    Shit even Jeff Nathanielson (whatever his name is) the scriptwriter got like I believe over 2 million bucks to “write” RH3, like how Kurtzman and his buddy “wrote” TRANSFORMERS 2.

  40. As far as modern-day Jackie Chan movies go, nothing beats Robin B. Hood

  41. CC: Also, the mainstreaming of anime. When THE MATRIX came out I thought “Oh, so in other words live-action anime physics.” The Wachowskis are from the older half of my generation and so chances are they were influenced by 1970s–1980s anime. That must be why they made SPEED RACER. Anime began to have a North American following in the 1980s but didn’t become ubiquitous until the mid-1990s.

    Mr. Majestyk: I have a soft spot for LOOSE CANNONS too! When I re-watched it more recently I found the manic parts of Dan Aykroyd’s performance more annoying than before, but I still liked the idea of the gifted but fragile criminologist. Also, Gene Hackman’s character is a cat person. And the closing theme song is composed by Aykroyd’s brother and sung by Katey Sagal!

    neal2zod: I remember DOWNTOWN. The first time I saw it was in the summer of 1993 when Fox was showing movies every Sunday night, starting with DIE HARD and playing WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S to promote the upcoming sequel. The promos made it look cooler than it was, but I’m still glad I saw it.

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