How does Rush Hour 2 follow the codes and conventions of Action genre
Rush Hour 2 (2001), directed by Brett Ratner, is an action adventure which follows on from its prequel. Our on screen duos are back in the heat; with international superstar, Jackie Chan and loud mouth comedian, Chris Tucker. The film is of US origin and made around $90 million altogether. The prequel had made a massive impact towards the audience; it developed Jackie Chan’s action and Chris Tucker’s comedy into one. Audience expectations for a sequel would be high and so producers would have to focus on marketing and financing, in order to make this film very profitable.
To only have Tuckers humour without the action wouldn’t fit to what audiences expect; you need the two to connect, as it would have done in the previous film, making it familiar to the audience and thus, getting them involved and enjoying the film even more. The narrative and genre of films are terms which are very important for both, audience and producers. The narrative focuses on film structure, the way it is told and presents our characters on the screen as well as events. Following Todorovs’ narrative pattern helps audiences understand the story (Of course, not all films follow this structure as some even challenge it).
We are able to identify the movements of characters, whether they are in great danger or in a safe environment among other examples. In my chosen ten minute sequence, the narrative takes place in between the equilibrium and the disruption, where we are introduced to villainous triads. The narrative in most films concentrates on the story structure or premise, without the need of wasting time by adding things that are irrelevant. If a character was to meet up with somebody the next day, we would expect to go to that day in order to keep the flow of the story and our interest.
So time and space are organized well in the narrative to help audiences’ understandings. The genre of a film helps the audience depict what they are in store for before watching it. People expect certain elements from their certain choices of genre, and this is where producers can get into the money game. If they were to make a horror movie, the audience would expect to be alarmed; a sub genre of a horror would be a serial killer and the main course, the blood and gory scenes. Today, action and adventure genres have been mostly popular with audiences, especially the young adults, as it is aimed at them mostly.
They know if they are about to watch an action movie, they will expect dangerous stunts, explosions and ‘wow’ at the wonderful world of computer generated imagery. Also required in an action movie is a suitable male lead to play the hero; films such as The Terminator or Die Hard wouldn’t have made it big without the right type of casting. Recently, female leads have come into the world of action such as Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill – showing unique standards of film making for the future, which is working very well and helping distributors increase their profits.
The genre of action and adventure films goes way back in the early 1900s. This film genre began as silent era’s serial films such as The Great Train Robbery and became dominant throughout cinematic history. This film was also regarded as an early Western, so most action films in that period were common to that. Action films had expanded in the 80s and 90s, with the growth of special effects techniques; movies such as Indiana Jones and 007: James Bond would have been a great downfall without this development. Today, action movies use computer generated imagery.
This tool is very expensive, and so the distributor should be sure about the genre of his/her movie and the audience. Spiderman and The Lord of the Rings are fine examples where CGI is used in order to fascinate the audience, especially the younger adults. In fact, they were such a success that distributors were to make sequels. All these elements or techniques which have developed over many years contribute to audiences’ understandings and expectations of a film, who would demand faster plots, greater violence and inspiration, for example.
The narrative and genre features, in Rush Hour 2, create meaning and our response in the ten minute sequence that I have chosen. Following from its original, our hero duo are on vacation in Hong Kong but Carter gets really frustrated by Lee, who continues to do his police work. Already, the narrative information creates a difference between the two characters; this ‘East versus West’ segment is familiar to audiences’ as they both find it difficult to understand each others’ worlds, and this makes it entertaining for throughout the whole of the film.
We know that at the end, no matter what has happened, that they will still have that little feud as it is their way of getting along and also engages the audience. Carter and Lee enter a nightclub, but both characters go in there for different purposes. The audience feels the mood of the location, a very dark and volatile place with grim looking Chinese triads. We know that Lee has gone in to the nightclub to investigate and that Carter is unaware of it, which brings back the humour.
The audience expects Carter to make a fool out of himself and that Lee would always have to sort it out. The dialogue between Lee and Carter is very important as the viewer is aware that Lee is in charge as he is ‘Michael Jackson in Hong Kong’ as was Carter back in the previous film (in the US). The scene is then disrupted with an introduction to an unknown character with a gang of triads, which changes the flow of the narrative and begins the action. We are to feel bewildered about this character, as is Carter; Lee is the only person who seems to know her.
Audiences would expect Jackie Chan to cleverly use his martial arts, a sub genre of an action movie, to defend himself from the bad guys. Producers would feel more comfortable investing in this type of film as they know they will be able to market Jackie Chan, the man who does his own stunts without the need of special effects or CGI. All of Jackie’s films have the same genre, but in each, the action choreography is developed in a unique way, and audiences will feel more excited about that.
What is so special about Rush Hour 2 is that even though it is of US origin, most of the action takes place in Hong Kong, and it also has a major Chinese cast that Asian audiences would appeal to. From this, producers can release trailers or posters advertising the action in Hong Kong, so that viewers are promised that there will be high kicking feat involved. Original generic elements are used so that audiences are familiar to that style of movie; this is the typical detectives chasing the criminals, or the ‘cops and robbers’.
Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop are fine examples from the 80s and you could say Rush Hour 1 and 2 are recent adaptations of these classics. You can feel the sense of danger as Lee climbs up to the top of the scaffolding, with the dark setting and eerie music. Out of nowhere, the same unknown woman character appears and knocks Lee out, causing him to hang for his life. In a parallel scene, Carter chooses to use the stairs, another comical approach which puts us at ease. He joins Lee in hanging from a bamboo stick as he is also attacked by the same woman.
The generic element seems to be challenged as both our male leads have been outwitted by this lethal Chinese woman (Zhang Ziyi). As mentioned before, action films have started to have more strong female characters to widen demographic appeal. Though our characters are in danger, we expect them to survive and catch the bad guys’ right at the end. The scene ends with a big stunt, a vital element required in a movie with Jackie Chan. Both Lee and Carter fall all the way down to the roof of an outside market stool.
Our initial response is that the duos have lost to the bad guys’, but this is just the first taste of the action. Rush Hour 2 literally follows the codes and conventions of action/adventure genre. The whole narrative and genre elements engage the audience and their expectations which make it a ‘safe’ movie, or a ‘safe’ financial bet for producers. The narrative helps us feel involved with Lee and Carter and the action relates very well to its genre. This is a typical buddy movie where the partners have to face a serious challenge, only to overcome it and become the best of friends at the end.
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