Sequels are almost guaranteed to not be as good as the original movie. The characters aren’t as fresh, the gimmicks are stale, and an overall feeling of clunky-ness is present as the creators try too hard to make the movie “bigger” and “better” than the original.
It is rare for a sequel to be worthy of being in the same franchise as the original movie. Some sequels that I believe are worthwhile are Clerks II, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, The Evil Dead 2, and Aliens.
It is even rarer for a sequel to be better than the original film. I can only think of two, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Rush Hour 2. Terminator 2 is technically a sequel but it is really just a better remake of the first movie similar to The Evil Dead 2.
Rush Hour 2 has all of the traits of a cliché bad sequel. It rehashes gags and bits from the first movie, similar lines, similar villain(s), and it takes place in two new locations (Hong Kong and Las Vegas). On paper Rush Hour 2 should be atrocious but in actuality it is what every movie sequel strives to be, a better version of the first movie that makes more money.
The movie picks up right where the first one left off. Lee and Carter are on vacation in Hong Kong but Lee continues to drag Carter into police work instead of vacationing. A serial bomber blows up a floor on the US Embassy in Hong Kong killing a US ambassador and then the detective offices at the Hong Kong police station.
It is believed that Ricky Tan (Lee’s father’s police partner) the leader of the triads was behind the bombings. Tan is killed by Hu LI, the sexy attractive henchman of business mogul Steven Reign (similar role as Ken Leung in the first Rush Hour). To investigate further without the knowledge of the Hong Kong police and FBI, Lee and Carter travel back to LA to investigate Steven Reign who operates out of California.
From there the typical chaos ensues. Lee and Carter, two opposites working together trying to solve a crime they were banned from getting involved in. Well-choreographed fights, funny (borderline racist) remarks, and of course explosions all made appearances.
Rush Hour 2 is better than Rush Hour because it was executed better. It follows almost the same plot structures and one but with better characters (and more attractive) and direction. Examples of the same exact scene done better in Rush Hour 2 are as follows:
Random actor cameo who provides a crucial piece of evidence to further the investigation
- In the first Rush Hour Carter takes a piece of equipment that fell out of the pocket of Sang to Clive (Chris Penn) in jail. Clive explains that the object is a detonator only after interacting with the more convincing Lee.
- In Rush Hour 2 Carter takes Lee to a Chinese restaurant ran by an old friend who operated a card table in the back room (different friend from the first movie who ran a card table in the back of a bar). This friend is played by Don Cheadle who only talks to Carter after learning he and Lee were trained in martial arts by the same family. Cheadle learns that money he received was fake and tells the two where the guy resides who gave it to him.
Lee and Carter being outnumbered in a fight with the triads which Carter started
- In the first Rush Hour Carter makes his way to the upstairs of the Chinese restaurant to meet the kidnappers. The henchmen are ordered to kill Carter when Lee comes in to save the day and kung-foo’s everyone.
- In Rush Hour 2 Lee finally brought Carter to a spa so he could relax and enjoy his vacation. Carter notices Ricky Tan and confronts him by destroying his lap top. Tan leaves and a massive fight breaks out between Tan’s henchman and the two partners. The scene was great as everyone was in bath robes in a calm and tranquil place.
Bomb at the end of the movie in close proximity of the characters
- In the first Rush Hour the Consul’s daughter had a bomb vest attached to her. After removing the vest, Lee and Carter were running through a gun fight trying to not explode or get shot.
- In Rush Hour 2 Hu Li puts a small bomb in the mouth of Lee and tapes his mouth shut. In a massive fight at the casino Lee did everything he could to get the detonator from Hu Li so she would not detonate the bomb. While doing so he is kicking ass and running through a crowded and hectic casino.
Sliding down a massive object to survive at the end of the movie
- In the first Rush Hour Lee climbed the rafters of a convention center to chase down Juntao who was making his escape. After dropping Juntao to his death in a water fountain, Lee needed a way to get down. Carter used a massive banner that hung from the ceiling to let Lee slide down to safety.
- In Rush Hour 2 Lee kicks Ricky Tan out of the window where he falls to his death on top of a car. Then the presumed to be dead Hu Li enters the room with a bomb set to go off in a few seconds. To escape the explosion Lee and Carter use their jackets to slid down long strings of lights connected to the casino to safety.
Rush Hour 2 is pretty much the same movie as the first Rush Hour but with a female villain, takes place in different locations, and the relationship between the Lee and Carter is stronger. The film makers didn’t have to build up the characters as they had already done that in the first movie. They just jumped in to the sequel running adding hot babes to the cast, threw Lee and Carter into familiar but fresh situations which resulted in satisfying action, funny interactions, and an opportunity for a third movie.