There are sequels that are as good, if not better, than their originals: ”The Godfather Part II” and ”Aliens” spring to mind. There are sequels that should never, ever have been made (let’s say ”Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” and leave it at that). And then there is the great bulk of fair-to-middling sequels that can’t hope to rekindle the spark of first love, but at least help you remember when — proficient, inessential movies like ”Ghostbusters 2,” ”Scream 2,” and Rush Hour 2. Since proficient and inessential pretty much describe the first ”Rush Hour,” though, the people responsible for the follow-up are to be congratulated.
Once again, Chris Tucker does his poor man’s Chris Rock shtick. Once again, Jackie Chan busts heads in adorable fashion. Once again, director Brett Ratner films fight scenes as mayhem rather than choreography. You may even notice it this time, since ”Rush Hour 2” largely takes place in Hong Kong, the home of action movies that make this one look like ”Larry King Live.” New wrinkles include gag appearances by the likes of Don Cheadle and Jeremy Piven, and ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”’s Zhang Ziyi, glorious but wasted in an evil-hitlady role. Here’s a tip on how to improve the franchise, guys: Make ”Rush Hour 3” about her.