Rush Hour 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. With so many supplements on this disc, the picture quality suffered somewhat.
This affected sharpness in a minor way. At no point did the movie appear terribly soft, but the shots often took on a tentative quality due to the compression. Though I didn’t see significant problems, I thought the flick looked just a bit “off”. I saw no signs of moiré effects or jagged edges, but some light edge enhancement seemed to crop up at times. Print flaws appeared to be mostly absent, as I witnessed only a couple of specks. However, I did notice some mild artifacts at times, and those occasionally gave the picture a slightly grainy look.
Colors appeared strong throughout RH2. Considering that Hong Kong and Las Vegas - two of our three locations - offer copious amounts of bright neon, the film popped with vivid and distinctive hues. In addition to all those lights, clothes and other elements added very vibrant and attractive colors, and they always looked clear and bold. Black levels lost a few points, however, as they appeared a bit muddy, and shadows could be moderately murky as well. None of these problems marred the presentation enough to drop it below a “B-“, but I thought it should have looked better.
Also solid were the soundtracks of Rush Hour 2. The DVD provided both Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 mixes. To my ears at least, I thought the two sounded virtually identical. If any differences occurred, I didn’t notice them, as both mixes offered reasonably strong auditory experiences.
However, I should note that the soundfield seemed a bit more restrained than I expected. Though RH2 was an action-comedy, the sound designers appeared to take their cues mostly from the standard “comedy” soundtrack, as much of the movie’s audio remained focused in the front spectrum. From the forward area I heard a nice atmosphere during the entire movie, as the front speakers offered good general ambience. Lots of little elements popped up from the sides, and the score also provided very solid stereo imaging. Sounds blended together neatly and they moved across the spectrum cleanly.
As for the surrounds, they reinforced the music particularly well, as lots of Lalo Schifrin’s score emanated from the rear speakers. Effects information tended to fall into the category of general support for the most part, though some of the louder scenes came to life fairly nicely. Explosions spread most effectively across all five channels, and some other aspects perked up the surround speakers. However, the track stayed moderately oriented toward the front.
Audio quality consistently sounded strong. Dialogue was natural and warm, as I detected no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects came across as accurate and distinct, and they showed good dynamics. Again, explosions worked best of all, as they demonstrated fine depth and impact, but other elements also seemed clean and vivid. The score also provided some solid sound. The music was reproduced with good clarity and fidelity, and it offered positive bass and bright highs. Ultimately, the soundfield seemed a little restrained for this kind of flick, but the audio of Rush Hour 2 still was good enough to merit a “B”.
Rush Hour 2 comes as part of New Line’s “infinifilm” line. The upcoming segment of the review will discuss the basics of the infinifilm format. If you already feel acquainted with it - or just don’t care to read my ramblings about it - skip ahead to the point where you see some underlined text; that will note the start of my discussion of the supplements found on RH2.
According to the insert that comes with the DVD:
An infinifilm DVD is a unique, one-of-a-kind viewer-directed experience. You’re in control of what you watch and when you view it!
Since the infinifilm DVDs disable some normal functions and only intermittently allow others, that statement seems ironic. It also makes little sense; when have I not been able to choose when and what I’d watch on a DVD? As far as I recall, none of my other discs came with a little man who put a gun to my head and forced me to check out certain segments.
Nonetheless, the “infinifilm” does offer a somewhat different form of presentation. From that same booklet blurb, here’s how the studio describes it:
The movie can also be experienced with the infinifilm option enabled, allowing you to access content specifically relating to the scenes via pop-up prompts that appear. Explore. Escape. Interact. Take your movie-watching experience to a whole new level. Go Beyond the Movie and discover the fascinating facts and intriguing stories surrounding your favorite films! Afterwards, you are returned to the movie right where you left off.
Once we get past the marketing hyperbole, what does all of this mean? In essence, the infinifilm feature functions along the same line as other “interactive” features that crop up during a movie. Other discs like the special edition of Dogma, Me, Myself and Irene and Dinosaur use similar functions: when an icon appears onscreen, you press a button and get to watch something that relates to that part of the movie.
In the case of the infinifilm titles, this function becomes more extensive. The icon appears more frequently, since it pops up once per infinifilm chapter stop. While the non-infinifilm version offers 16 chapters, the infinifilm edition provides a whopping 39 stops, and different options appear with each one of those.
How useful is all of this? Moderately, I suppose, but it depends on your tolerance for interruptions. All of the materials accessible during the infinifilm edition can also be found in the standard roster of supplements; there doesn’t appear to be anything exclusive to the infinifilm feature. The advantage to accessing these via the infinifilm function stems from the fact that they’ll relate specifically to that section of the movie. It’s a cool way to make the movie more informative and immediate.
However, it could also be a distraction. It’s hard to get involved in a movie when you leave it every couple of minutes to see something else. Ultimately, however, I think the infinifilm concept is a good one. I can’t say that I’d want to use it while I watched a movie, for I think it’d disrupt the film too much. Nonetheless, I always support additional options, and since I’m not forced to use the feature - and since it makes none of the DVD’s extras exclusive to infinifilm, which would really irritate me - I’m more than happy to see this kind of feature.
One oddity: while the DVD offers menus for both the normal “Select a Scene” and the “infinifilm Select a Scene”, the latter features the same 16 chapter stops. While it’s nice that the disc broke down the sections in a more detailed manner, it makes no sense that 23 of the infinifilm chapters fail to appear.
One annoyance: while the infinifilm process is supposed to make DVDs even more interactive and user-friendly than ever, New Line omitted subtitles on Rush Hour 2. Yes, it offered closed-captioning, but all DVDs really should have at least English subtitles available.
Rush Hour 2 introduces a few other stylistic innovations typical for the infinifilm line, all of which are intended to make the DVD experience more comfortable for folks new to the format. Strewn throughout the disc you’ll find little “?” icons. Click on any of these and you’ll learn about the feature at hand. For example, if you enter the “Filmmaker Commentary” area, you’ll discover a little blurb that tells you about audio commentaries. There’s also a main “Need Help?” menu on the front page. Yes, a lot of this information is very basic, and veteran DVD fans won’t need it. However, we were all newbies once, and this kind of gentle introduction will be welcome for those who aren’t so familiar with the format.
The special features split into two different areas: Beyond the Movie and All Access Pass. Under the Beyond the Movie category we found six different short video programs. “Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong Introduction” essentially acted as a promo piece for the city. As we watched shots of Hong Kong - provided by the town’s tourist board - Chan told us how terrific the place is. During the 118-second clip, we learned that we must visit Hong Kong, and when we do, we’ll return repeatedly.
Next we got Culture Clash: West Meets East, a four-minute and 50-second piece that looked at the issues related to filming in Hong Kong. It mixed lots of shots from the set with interview snippets from director Brett Ratner, executive producer Andrew Z. Davis, producer Jay Stern, and actors Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, and Roselyn Sanchez. Overall, the piece included some fluffy comments, as the participants made generic remarks about the challenges and pleasures of working in Hong Kong. I liked the information about complaints from the crew, but most of the rest of the material seemed somewhat bland. On the other hand, the behind the scenes shots were excellent, as we saw lots of raw footage. This made the program entertaining and useful despite the mediocre comments.
Language Barrier ran for four minutes and 17 seconds and greatly resembled the prior piece. It offered more excellent behind the scenes material along with interview bits from Ratner, Sanchez, Chan, Tucker, editor Mark Helfrich, and second unit director/stunt coordinator Conrad Palmisano. Again, the comments remained a bit light, though they added some decent information about the challenges of dealing with language differences and how Ratner dealt with the actors. The footage from the set made it more compelling, and it was a generally interesting piece.
During Attaining International Stardom, we found a seven-minute program that essentially told us how great Jackie Chan is. It mixed shots from the set and interviews with Ratner, producer Arthur Sarkissian, Chan, executive producer Davis, Stern, Tucker, and actor Zhang Ziyi. We also saw clips from both Rush Hour movies. While the behind the scenes material was decent, it wasn’t as good as seen during the prior pieces. The comments were exceedingly superficial, as they told us little more than how amazing Chan is and how much fun the set was.
Kung Fu Choreography presented a bit more depth. The piece ran nine minutes and 28 seconds as it mixed the standard behind the scenes footage and interviews with Ratner, Helfrich, Chan, Sanchez, Stern, and Palmisano. Much of the focus still stuck with how terrific Chan is and how great a piece of work the movie was, but we found some decent notes about the creation of the fight scenes, and the behind the scenes shots added a nice layer of depth to the package.
A very different piece, Lady Luck showed a short student film Ratner shot while at New York University film school. The two-minute and 35-second piece provided a black and white silent mini-thriller, and Ratner added commentary on top of this. The movie seemed mildly interesting but not great, while Ratner contributed some good remarks about his early work. It merits interest as a curiosity.
The Beyond the Movie area finished with a Fact Track. This text commentary used the subtitle area as it provided small factoids that appeared throughout the movie. While it offered some information about the movie and the participants, it usually gave us comments that fell into background territory. For example, we learned about the Triads, and also got facts about Hong Kong, Las Vegas, and a bunch of other small aspects of the film such as Michael Jackson’s career. A few mistakes occur along the way; the track can’t decide if Tucker stands 6-1 or 5-11. However, for the most part this seemed like an interesting and useful little addition that fleshed out some parts of the movie’s background.
Next we moved to the All Access Pass domain, which started with an audio commentary from director Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson. Both men were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. Overall, I found this to be a very interesting and useful little track.
Not surprisingly, Ratner dominated the piece, and he provided a lot of solid information. He’s matured a lot since his commentary for the first Rush Hour movie, and he seemed less concerned with second-guessing the audience; in that track, he often appeared strongly influenced by his perceptions of the fans’ desires. He showed much less of that tendency here, as he indicated more what he thought was best. Ratner also avoided the pseudo-intellectual trappings that mildly marred his commentary for The Family Man; not once did he use the word “organic” during RH2, which felt like a minor miracle after the Family Man piece.
Nathanson added a fair amount of nice data as well, though he mainly pointed out the ways the film varied from his original script. The two maintained a reasonably honest and frank attitude throughout the commentary. Though the track definitely featured a fair amount of praise, it didn’t get buried in those elements, and they included moderate amounts of criticism. I also liked the fact that Ratner happily acknowledged all of his influences. As I noted in the body of my movie review, RH2 stole from many flicks, and Ratner openly relates all of these. He may not be a great filmmaker, but at least he’s honest, and I rather enjoyed this audio commentary.
After that we returned to additional video pieces. Making Magic Out of Mire lasted eight minutes and 53 seconds as it looked at Ratner’s directorial style. We found additional fine behind the scenes footage as well as interviews with Ratner, Stern, Tucker, Helfrich, Sanchez, Palmisano, and composer Lalo Schifrin. Although the comments largely told us how wonderful Ratner is, the material from the set added some very good stuff. Most compelling was the clip in which Ratner badgered Tucker to refer to Ziyi’s character as a bitch, but the rest of the images were also very interesting.
Evolution of a Scene splits into three different segments: “Chicken Chop” (5:01), “The Bomb” (9:20), and “Slide For Life” (5:47). These were some of the best aspects of the DVD, as they provided closer looks at the creation of these scenes. While a fair amount of narration discussed the snippets, the behind the scenes shots were the focus, and they provided excellent material. We saw the location scout for “Chicken”, storyboards for “Slide”, outtakes and working through the content for “Bomb” as well as a lot of other interesting shots. Overall, I really enjoyed the “Evolution” segments and thought they were very valuable.
Another short video program, Fashion of Rush Hour 2 ran three minutes and 50 seconds as it gave us a brief look at the outfits worn in the film. This piece combined some images of the clothes and accessories along with a particular focus on the flamboyant character played by one of the movie’s cameo actors. We saw fun outtakes from his work as well as the period in which he “got into character”. The segment was short but pretty entertaining.
A Visual Effects Deconstruction begins with a 28-second “Introduction By Visual Effects Supervisor Kevin Lingenfelser” that sets up the embassy explosion scene, the sequence about which we’ll soon learn more. From there, you can examine that 12-second segment via four different angles: “Backplate”, “Miniature - with Window Treatment”, “Miniature - Fixed Perspective”, and “Final”. If you let the program run, it’ll display each in succession, or you can flip between them with the “angle” button on your remote. While I barely saw a difference between angles two and three, this was still a good little look at some effects work.
Deleted Scenes/Outtakes adds nine of the former plus five minutes and five seconds of the latter. The deleted scenes run between 20 seconds and 87 seconds for a total of seven and a half minutes of unused segments. If you choose the helpful “Play All” option, the “Outtakes” will appear after the final deleted scene.
None of the nine deleted scenes seemed terrific, but a few were fairly interesting. The second one showed Phillip Baker Hall as he reprised his role from the first film, which made this the most compelling of the bunch. I thought the ninth clip - in which Tucker interacted with Alan King - came across as another Beverly Hills Cop - outtake, while the fourth one provided Tucker’s take on a Jamaican accent. Don’t look for Chris to win Oscars for roles in different nationalities, for his Jamaican lilt sounded more British to me.
As for the “Outtakes”, they were fairly fun, but I could see why they didn’t make the end credits. Many of them echoed the same kinds of goof-ups seen during that reel, so while they’re entertaining, they’re somewhat redundant.
All of the “Deleted Scenes” can be viewed with or without commentary from Ratner. As always, he provided useful notes about the clips. He succinctly told us why he excised the segments, and he even related his displeasure with some of them.
Lastly, the Theatrical Trailers area adds two teasers plus the standard theatrical trailer. All three offer Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Cast and Crew includes entries for director Ratner as well as actors Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Roselyn Sanchez, Harris Yulin, Alan King and Zhang Ziyi. Unlike the fairly detailed biographies found on the DVD for the first Rush Hour, these offer little more than filmographies. However, they do add information on the Chinese year in which each person was born, so we find some notes on the “significance” of birth in the Year of the Rabbit, the Year of the Horse, and so on. This doesn’t substitute for real biographical data, but it’s a fun touch nonetheless.
Note that none of the extras provide subtitles, but except for “Lady Luck”, they do have English closed-captioning. In addition, all of them are enhanced for 16X9 televisions, which means that the 1.33:1 “Lady Luck” is actually windowboxed.
In addition to all of this, Rush Hour 2 adds some DVD-ROM materials. “Script to Screen” lets you read the original script while you watch the movie; the video runs in a small screen on the left as the text displays on the right half of the screen. We get a link to the movie’s “Original Website”. Unfortunately, unlike many other New Line DVDs, this really is nothing more than a link; some of their other releases included all of the site’s information on the disc itself. This becomes more frustrating because the RH2 site loaded very slowly; I wanted to check it out but I gave up after a while because I wasn’t prepared to spend the rest of the week with it.
Crowds ate up Rush Hour 2 and made it one of the year’s biggest hits. Frankly, I don’t get it, as I thought the movie was mildly entertaining but it offered little more than some tired culture clash gags and a few good stunts. As for the DVD, picture seemed erratic, but the sound was quite good, and the disc packed a slew of extras. Some of these seemed fairly superficial, but cumulatively they presented a very solid look at the movie and appeared fun and entertaining.
My lack of enthusiasm about Rush Hour 2 as a film means I can’t offer much of a recommendation for it, but fans of the flick should definitely be very pleased with the DVD. Others might want to rent it if they think the stars or subject interest them.