Rush Hour isn’t a total cop out.
Though the pilot for CBS’ adaptation of the Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan comedy is little more than a regurgitation of the film that spawned two sequels, there are indications that The Powers That Be (which include Cougar Town vets Bill Lawrence and Blake McCormick) are well aware of what does and does not work about the film 18 years later.
For one, the culture clash that ensues between destined partners Carter (Justin Hires, Key & Peele) and Lee (Jon Foo, Batman Begins) is no longer fueled by xenophobic humor. What’s more, two newfangled female characters seem positioned to help humanize the central duo in ways the original film did not.
The case of the week (this is a procedural, after all) is largely borrowed from the movie, as Lee makes his way to Los Angeles to track down an unnamed blond baddie who’s not only in town to illegally procure invaluable artifacts, but who has also allegedly kidnapped Lee’s sister, Kim (played by Awkward grad Jessika Van).
As it turns out, Kim is working for the bad guys, but before the pilot can acknowledge that, it introduces its lead detectives: Lee, in nearly a shot-for-shot remake of the film’s opening act aboard a loading dock in China, and Carter, whose sting op to incriminate arms dealers is reworked to culminate in an outlandish helicopter chase soundtracked to “Uptown Funk.” When they’re ultimately ordered to stay far away from the case (by Wendie Malick’s Captain Cole), they partake in an investigation of their own that nearly kills them repeatedly.
Carter, who like Tucker’s version of the character is willing to do anything to solve a crime, is effectively more grounded here by his friendship with former partner Didi (Dexter vet Aimee Garcia). In a rare heartfelt moment, Didi tells Lee that Carter was responsible for her demotion to desk duty, which was all part of a ruse to keep her out of harm’s way as a newly single mother.
Though Carter and Lee manage to save the day, Kim remains at-large even after Unnamed Blond Baddie is killed and his cohorts are apprehended, thus setting up a season— or series-long — arc that pits brother against sister. The hour conveniently closes with Lee announcing that he’s staying put in L.A., where he’ll ultimately end up working with Carter on at least one new case every Thursday night at 10/9c.
Now that we’ve made sense of Episode 1, it’s your turn: What did you think of CBS’ Rush Hour adaptation? Grade the series premiere in our poll below, then sound off in the comments.