This remake of the Robert Mitchum classic was an unashamed bid for box-office success by director Martin Scorsese. The film buffs denounced it, but, although it must be said it won’t go down as one of his best, even average Scorsese is light years ahead of most Hollywood fodder. Robert De Niro takes the Mitchum role here, playing a vicious ex-convict who torments his former attorney Nick Nolte, believing Nolte betrayed him during his trial for a brutal sex crime. De Niro is way over the top as the Bible-babbling psychopath and fails to live up to Mitchum’s cool evil. However, where Scorsese scores is in his portrayal of Nolte and his family (Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis): whereas in the original they were the embodiment of apple-pie American values, here they are falling apart at the seams. And, while the sickening violence will upset some, far more disturbing is the relationship between De Niro and the fascinated adolescent Lewis. Scorsese brings a dazzling array of cinematic techniques to the party and only loses his way in a crowd-pleasing but ludicrous finale. The original stars – Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam and Mitchum himself – pop up in cameo roles, and there is also strong support from Joe Don Baker.
In this comedy, Matthew Broderick – worshipped by students, scourge of teachers – decides to play truant and whisks reluctant chum Alan Ruck and girlfriend Mia Sara off to the big city for an adventure; meanwhile, uptight dean of students Jeffrey Jones is determined to catch him in the act. This remains the most fully rounded of writer/director John Hughes’s teen comedies, although once again it’s marred slightly by Hughes’s familiar undercurrent of sentimentality. Broderick is remarkably likeable as the arrogant, spoilt brat, Ruck is excellent as his melancholy friend and Jones almost steals the show as he suffers the humiliations that would later be heaped upon the burglars in the Hughes-scripted blockbuster Home Alone. The film also provides early outings for Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing) and Charlie Sheen.
Jackie Chan’s English is only marginally better than some people’s Cantonese. But it took Hollywood several mediocre kung-phooey films to realise – first with Rush Hour and later with Shanghai Noon – that Chan’s best served by partnering his flashing fists with a sidekick’s equally quick-fire quips. No surprises then that Rush Hour 2 sees the pint-sized action star reteamed with motormouth Chris Tucker. It’s the same hit formula, only this time the two chalk-and-cheese cops find themselves in Hong Kong battling a murderous Triad gang, but with the added spice that chief villain John Lone was involved in the death of Chan’s dad. There’s also the opportunity to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Zhang Ziyi make her American debut as Lone’s beautiful but deadly henchwoman, Hu Li. Chan’s trademark stunts and Tucker’s slick one-liners guarantee that if you enjoyed the first film, you’ll like this one too. And make sure you stick around for Chan’s trademark end-credit out-takes, which provide some of the funniest moments.