Directed by Brett Ratner, starring Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Zhang Ziyi, John Lone and Alan King.

'Rush Hour 2', like a reliable car, does exactly what it has to and no more. It is to filmmaking, what Volvo are to car design. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker star in the sequel to the 1998 blockbuster, and hardly depart at all from the winning formula of the first film.

The plot is as derivative as you are ever likely to see, with 'Black Rain' being the obvious inspiration. It begins with a bomb blowing up two American customs officials and encompasses counterfeiting rings, murder, Triads and karaoke etiquette.

Chan plays Chief Inspector Lee of the Hong Kong police, a kung fu kicking cop with a dark secret. Tucker plays Detective Carter, a helium voiced, wise-cracking American. Once again, the two are playing against type.

The action scenes are impressive, even in a post-Crouching Tiger world, with Chan showing he's the daddy of high-octane martial arts films. The chemistry that the two main protagonists have leaps off the screen and they remain the best buddy-buddy pairing since Riggs and Murtagh (prior to the abomination that was 'Lethal Weapon 4').

The supporting cast are adequate, with Zhang Ziyi, of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' fame, again impressing. But there is no doubt that the only thing that matters in this film are Tucker and Chan. The rest of it, including the plot and other characters, is just dressing.

The film does hit a couple of bum notes. Tucker's constant high-pitched racial banter gets wearing after a while, and the sub-plot involving Chan's father appears to have been tacked on in the editing suite.

'Rush Hour 2' completely succeeds in its, admittedly limited, ambitions. If you like your comedy crass, your action full on and your plots wafer thin, then this film is for you. If you don't, then you might well be advised to steer clear of the Chris and Jackie show.

John Raftery